Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of Anne Berry. Her images help teach us empathy for other beings.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I have lived in Georgia all of my life, except for four years of college in Virginia. Georgia still has some beautiful land that’s unspoiled by development. I was raised on these beaches and mountains. My appreciation and love for disappearing natural areas, combined with the influence of Southern culture and literature, with its sense of loss, contributes to the nostalgic quality in my work.
How did you get started in photography?
I studied photography at Sweet Briar College and Atlanta College of Art. I studied and taught other art mediums and also British literature. About ten years ago I started to focus entirely on photography.
Which photographers and other artists work do you admire?
There are too many contemporary photographers that I love to even begin to list them. I am inspired by the work of Kandinsky, Chagall, and Franz Marc. I am using a different medium, but I believe in the visions of these artists.
And what about their work inspires you?
They see and paint “not only what is purely material but also something less solid” [Kandinsky]. They all capture the essence of the animal, and I admire the way their works evoke and portray emotions and dreams.
Would you tell us about an image that has stayed with you over time?
An image that comes to mind is “Flood Dream”, by Arthur Tress, from the Dream Collector series. The caption next to the image in Tress’ book of the series describes it perfectly: “resignation and peace in the midst of disaster.” The composition of the image is powerful, and the photograph has a great balance of mystery and narrative. The story is evident, but much is left to the interpretation and imagination of the viewer.
Why did you chose to do portraits of animals?
I have always had a connection to animals. I rode and trained horses until I married. It took up a lot of time and was one reason that I did not focus entirely on art during college. With photography I am able to combine my passion for art and my love of animals.
Are there any stories you would like to share?
I have had some interesting encounters with animals and have been extremely close to them, both in the wild and in zoos. In the Delhi zoo the Hippopotamus exhibit has a rock barrier about 3 feet high. I happened to arrive at feeding time. One of the hippos was leaning over the barrier the way a horse would lean over a fence, and I fed him some grass from the caretaker’s wheelbarrow.
If no one saw your work, would you still create it?
I have always created art, and I would do it even if no one saw it, but I love to live with art in my home and to share it. I am happy that photography allows me to reach out to a greater community and to support causes that are important to me.
Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day of photography is for you.
My usual process is digital, but my way of looking and shooting are from film. I use an analog Zeiss lens with a tilt adapter. I don’t look at my images until I get home. I spend the same amount of time on each image and do the same things I would do with film in the darkroom. One perfect day would be visiting my friend on Cumberland Island, finding a herd of feral horses, walking on the beach, drinking a glass of wine.
What challenges do you face as a photographer?
Marketing. I love to write, and I don’t mind doing tasks on the computer, but I run out of time. What I find most difficult is initiating contact with people who I don’t know well.
With the rapid changes in how people make and view a photograph how do you view this time in the history of photography?
It might be somehow parallel to how pictorial photographers felt. They were trying to create something unique and precious, not just a record of a detail or a moment. Technology has made it easier to create a photograph, even a very large one. A harder task is to make the work interesting and meaningful, and to reveal the artist’s hand and vision in the work.
How do you over come a creative block?
Being around other people who create and talk about art fills me with ideas and a desire to create. When I taught art, my elementary school students inspired me. Now I have a supportive group of colleagues who have become close friends. We re-charge each other’s batteries.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
Flannery O’Conner states that art is “something in which the whole personality takes part – the conscious as well as the unconscious mind.” It is a way of looking at the world, and it helps me find both meaning and gratitude.
Is there another type of photography or subject matter you would like to tackle?
I am studying and printing in the Photogravure process, and I love the results. I’m also experimenting with Wet Plate Collodion.
Thank you Anne for sharing your work, to learn more about Anne’s work please visit her site. Anne Berry
To learn more about Arthur Tress please visit his site. Arthur Tress