Today we feature Cynthia Gladis.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I am a passionate New Jersey, U.S. based photographer whose work is informed by a long career in graphic design and an appreciation of fine art. My subjects are varied but most of my work has a common thread – an often humorous, sometimes ironic, view of my surroundings. I came to photography rather late in life and have only been seriously shooting for the last 10 years. I always loved “snapshooting” but decided to teach myself proper photography and once I started there was no turning back – I had found my bliss.
I shoot primarily with digital mirrorless.cameras and my iPhone, have dabbled in film, and have amassed a large collection of gear, including vintage film cameras and lenses, as I love to experiment with both equipment and technique. I have several ongoing series, but most of my work is less project-based and more exploration, to see what sparks my interest.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
I’ve led a creative life ever since I was a child, and I believe that my creativity comes primarily from within. When I started my photography journey, I was determined not to pay attention to what the photography greats did before me, as I wanted to develop my style on my own, without being influenced by anyone else. I’ve been told “that’s not how it’s done” – if I’d studied photography “properly” I would have been immersed in the work of others. However, now that I have my own style, I love looking at the work of others and seeing if the comparisons people sometimes make between my work and someone else’s have merit.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has inspired you.
There is not one particular photographic image that’s inspired me, but I’ve always appreciated the paintings of J. M. W. Turner – I love his use of light, and the dreamy quality of his paintings reminds me of ICM (Intentional Camera Movement), which is something I practice on occasion. When I first started shooting I wanted, and expected, everything to be tack sharp, but I’ve gotten past that and can now appreciate a good, artistic blur.
Is there an image that you wish you would have taken and can you still see it?
There is not one single image that I regret not taking, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve had a few
“missed opportunities” that I knew were opportunities as soon as I missed them, but they
passed quickly because I moved on and found new opportunities – there are always new
Please click on images to see a different view.
How do you work through times when nothing seems to work?
I’ve compiled a very well-organized Lightroom catalog, and if I’m having a fallow photo period I mine my catalog for gems that I might have missed, or that I can re-process with my ever-evolving processing skills. If the weather cooperates I go for a walk with one of my cameras, because there is always something that catches my eye and that is often enough to reignite my passion. But even if the walk results in just one decent image I’m pleased. Rarely when I set out with my camera do I come back “empty carded.”
What part of image-making do you find the most rewarding?
The part of image-making that’s most rewarding to me is what I call “the hunt.” When I am
walking around with my camera, exploring and looking for image material, I am calm, at peace, and in my zone. No matter what else is going on in my life, my photo walks make me happy, particularly when I’m listening to music and taking the time to compose and shoot very deliberately. There’s nothing else like it, for me.
What tools have you found essential in the making of your work?
My cameras are essential to my work, whether using my medium format Fuji GFX50R or my
iPhone 13 ProMax, which I’ve found is great for night shooting, a new passion of mine. I have found that each piece of gear I’ve collected has its own purpose,
depending on the look I’m going for. I’m a huge fan of Lightroom, both for organizing my work and for processing and, of course, there’s Photoshop. I enjoy working on what I’ve found during my hunts almost as much as the hunts themselves.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
Now that I’m paying more attention to the work of others, I see a lot of alternative processes that appeal to me and I’d love to try them at some point – cyanotype is one, and encaustic is another. I’d also like to do some conceptual projects, but I always find myself
pulled back by the simple act of walking around and exploring with a camera.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
Life in our world can be difficult and challenging, and there are plenty of photographers who document those difficulties and challenges. I am not one of them. I like to “spread joy” with my photography and let people get a glimpse into my head and the often quirky way I observe my surroundings. If you called me a cock-eyed optimist I would not be offended. I have a sense of humor that runs the gamut from silly to sophisticated, but my humor and optimism are what keep the wolves at bay. I aim to share positivity through my images.
What’s on the Horizon?
I see more photography on my horizon, and that pleases me to no end. Most of my
contemporaries are retiring or retired, but I still work as a self-employed graphic designer
because I enjoy the work. And I also enjoy my photography. I consider myself lucky to have a creative pursuit to look forward to for the rest of my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have some wonderful people take an interest in my work over the last couple of years, so it’s being seen more widely. My photography will be my legacy, so I am enjoying this time of my life more than I ever expected I would. And I thank you for the opportunity to do this interview – I enjoyed thinking about and answering your great questions!
Thank you Gladis, to learn more about the work of Cynthia Gladis please click on her name.