Today Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of Wendi Schneider.
Would you please tell a little us about yourself?
I’m still drawn to the scent of oils and turpentine. The aroma evokes glimpses of my mother and grandmother at their easel at my childhood home in Memphis, coffee-with-chicory nights in the Newcomb studios in New Orleans, the inherited easel by the window overlooking 35th St. in New York, and finally to its current home in Denver.
I tend to see the world in vignettes, and am calmed by the visual balance of a good composition. I struggle to balance my need for solitude with time for interaction, and my anxieties with confidence. After years of creating images for book covers, Victoria Magazine and others, designing for print and web, art directing, and various artistic endeavors, I’m compelled to share an impression of the serenity I find in the fluidity of a graceful, organic line and the stillness of a suspended moment. My current work employs only tools of that earlier process – luscious, soft brushes, nestled near my mother’s paint-splattered easel.
How did you get started in photography?
I came to photography as a painter in the early ‘80s to capture moments of my models. Captivated by the freedom of the photographic process and the alchemy of the emerging darkroom print, but missing the sensuality of oils, I began layering paint on the prints to create a more personal interpretation and a heightened reality.
Would you share with us one image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?
Oh, there are so many! Robert Demachy’s Struggle, both for its beauty and it’s perceived message.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
A long, yet abbreviated list: the Pictorialists – Steichen, Demachy, Eugene, de Meyer, Kuhn, Kasebier, Puyo, Brigman, Coburn, Haviland – Moon, Metzner, Turbeville, Outerbridge, Sudek, Salgado, and so many others. I’m drawn to the simplicity of old Japanese prints and paintings, the gilded work of Klimt and the religious painters of centuries past, Manet, Monet, Heade, Turner, Sargent, Whistler, Courbet . . . the list goes on. I believe everything we see is imprinted on our psyche, perhaps to emerge in a personal incarnation in the future.
What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?
“Mille Fleur” the solo exhibit of my hand-painted photographs of flowers for the grand opening of the large Royal St. location of A Gallery For Fine Photography in New Orleans in 1991.
Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.
In the “States of Grace” series, I seek serenity in ephemeral, organic forms, illuminating glimpses of beauty to silence chaos. I capture the fleeting movement of light on form that is often overlooked, preserving that mystical moment that stills time. Photographing intuitively – what I feel, as much as what I see – and informed by a background in oil painting and art history, I portray a personal interpretation, often layering the images with color and texture, to balance the real and the imagined. The images are printed digitally with archival pigment ink on vellum. White gold, silver, or 24k gold leaf is then applied on verso, creating a luminous surface and suffusing the treasured subjects with the spirituality and sanctity of the precious metals. Within the limited edition, the prints may differ in color or texture, and, as the effect of gilding inherently varies, each of the limited edition prints is unique.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
Snowy Owl Hover. I journeyed to Canada in January of 2016, to photograph owls with a small group of wildlife photographers. Photographing with others was new for me. Amidst heavy cameras, huge lenses and tripods, was my seemingly little hand-held camera. The experience reinforced my belief that though the tools enable the capture, it’s the soul of the artist that makes the image.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
When I’m capturing or creating an image, I’m entirely focused on the detail and wonder of the subject and process, so all else fades away. The creative flow quiets the noise in my head. The current project finds me often in nature, so that in itself is incredibly healing for me emotionally and spiritually. If I can create work, I feel fortunate. If I can make work that I feel good about, I feel fulfilled. If I can create work that touches others in some way, I feel successful.
Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?
Repetitive motions, coupled with injuries, have left me with tendinitis in my arms and ribs. While I still sometimes shoot with a Nikon D7200, I also rely on an iPhone 7+, and before that an iPhone 6 with Moment lenses. Other favorites include a Lensbaby Composer Pro, a 300mm F4 with a 1.4 extender, a 50mm 1.4, a 105mm 2.8, and a 70-300mm 4.5 – 5.6. I use an old Mac Pro with a 30” NEC color-calibrated monitor and an iPad Pro. After the early years on tripods, I’m addicted to the freedom of handheld, and am experimenting with a Sony 6500 for a lighter setup.
What is on the horizon?
I am working on a private book commission of flowers in a rooftop garden, and preparing a selection of gilded vellums from “States of Grace” for an upcoming solo exhibit. I hope to curate and share other artists’ work, and, not surprisingly, the sirens are taunting me with the irresistible allure of the easel.
To learn more about the work of Wendi Schneider please visit her site at Wendi Schneider.