Brenda Schaffer

Lest you stand beside me,
how will I share the sun warming my face or the cool of evening nipping at the back of my neck?
How you felt soft moss between your toes, or inhale the crisp salty air, or feel the blistering, parching heat?

When I pick up my camera I seldom set out with a mission to capture one particular thing. Rather, I allow myself to be drawn along by the unexpected delights of color, light and texture. I’m often stopped in my tracks by a play of light, a combination of colors, maybe a group of shapes—something that strikes me as remarkable.

Once I am drawn in by an image I wish to capture, I am leisurely in my approach; like having a conversation with an old friend. I consider the “personality” of the scene and what is the essence of the remarkability that caught my eye. While I shoot many frames, often the first image I capture is the one I ultimately use. In my art, this stage of the process is play; it is fun. I have shot photography for about 40 years and know my tools well enough that using them barely distracts me from the moment. The poet and storyteller in me is delighted that I will have a new storytelling image to share.

Often weeks will pass—sometimes years—before I begin the artistry on the images. At my cluttered computer desk, I begin the process of translating the poetry of the scene into visual elements. I frequent multi-layer the image treatments. At times I will incorporate monochrome layers to emphasize a particular texture and blur or smear layers to draw attention to the forms and colors. Other times I will use layers to specifically direct attention to the details. I alter toning and shading to convey warmth, dampness, solitude, and other senses. The process of weaving the poem into the image takes a number of hours, often spread over several days. Once I am satisfied with my work, I print the end product on aluminum sheets, metallic archival paper, or note cards. I savor how the silver sheen of the metal allows the light to project through the image in a way that further enriches the sense of depth and play of light in the image.  And the cards? I enjoy the ease of sharing these bits of art with a hello to a friend.

Come with me.
I have a story to tell, a song to share, a poem to whisper.
And if you hear the poem whispered in my work,
I will be truly content.

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