How do you do “That”. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1995 on slide film, and scanned to a digital file.

I’ve been a photographer for years, and started with film.  I wanted to be like Art Wolfe.  I had seen his photos in National Geographic, and wanted to work for them.  I decided to become one of the best photographers in the world, and that would be my life.  I would travel the world, take photographs, and people would pay me a lot of money.  I was 13 years old at the time.

Through the years, I have been blessed with the teachings of many different photographers.  I attended a workshop taught by Frans Lanting in the 1990s, and he told us that nobody in the room would make it as a professional nature photographer, except for the 1 or 2 that did not listen to him.  I love a challenge!

Bryan F Peterson’s workshops brought in the idea that creativity and light were the foundation for all successful photographs.  I’ve taken several workshops from him through the years, and have “wow-ed” him with a few photographs.  This photo of the Painted Desert was the first “wow”, and it was at a workshop.  It was followed by silence, in a room full of 50+ people.  It is one of my fondest memories about photography.

The other factor that brought me to this point in my career was being recognized as a talented photographer by a local photographer.  He taught introduction photography classes, and asked me to assist him.  This was in 1995, and lasted for two years.  He also encouraged me and others to show our work, by organizing a gallery in LaConner, WA.  I was covering a shift at the gallery one weekend, and had the opportunity to listen to a gentleman critique all my work to a friend without even acknowledging my presence in the gallery.  Listening to others can give insight, and knowledge about the artist’s audience.


Copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1997 on slide film, and scanned to a digital file.

So now when I do a show or talk, people ask me “how do you do that?”  I could be anything, such as how did you get the background to go dark.  How did you get the picture so colorful?  What kind of camera do you use?

Well, a good photograph doesn’t have much to do with owning an expensive camera.  It does have a lot to do with knowing how to use the equipment that you own or can afford to own (Point and Shoot or DSLR).  It comes down to understanding light, exposure, composition, and how to manipulate the camera to get the artist vision.  It takes practice, using all this knowledge to hone a photographer’s skills.

I teach student’s these skills through several venues.  On the weekends, I teach through Nature’s Photo Adventures.  The 2 hour workshop is called a Photo Walk.  This format allows students to learn these skills, practice the skills, and ask questions regarding application of the skills.  Many of the Photo Walks happen at the zoo, where there are an abundance of photo opportunities.  For the more advanced students, I offer a 1 day workshop (4 hours) of classroom time, and opportunity to practice skills.  The format of the classes focus on skills, and students being successful with their photographs.

For those who prefer a classroom setting, I teach a series of Digital photography classes through the City of Edmonds.  There are 4 individual classes that are 2 hours of instruction.  Each one builds off of the knowledge learned in the previous class.  Students can sign-up for these individually.  The first class starts with basic camera operation.  Class two focuses on exposure and light.  Class three works on composition, and the application of exposure/light.  Class four finishes with the digital darkroom, and what software programs work best for their costs.

I teach longer workshops through the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island.  In 2013, I will be teaching a one-day (6 hour) workshop called “From Camera Knowledge to the Digital Darkroom Intensive.”  This will be one day focused on basic camera operation, exposure, composition, light, practice shooting, and finishes with the Digital Darkroom.  This will be on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

The second workshop I will be teaching here is “An Island Photographic Adventure – Birds, Wildlife & the Environment.”  It will be a 2 day workshop with classroom time, and shooting on location.  The shoot locations will be on Whidbey and Fidelgo Islands.  The workshop will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 27-28, 2013.

My other teaching venue is the Sitka Center for Arts & Ecology on the Oregon coast.  I will be teaching “Of the Land, Sea & Air – An Oregon Coast Photo Adventure.”  It will be in June, though I do not have the final date yet.

So, when asking a photographer, “how did you do that,” consider taking a photography workshop. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1992 (I think) on print file, and scanned to a digital file.

4 responses to “How do you do “That”. . .”

  1. Valerie Henschel Avatar

    Was the gallery photographer in La Conner Lee Mann? Miss him.

    1. karenulvestad Avatar

      No, it was Brasy’s Photographic Gallery. It closed in 1997 or 1998. I don’t remember exactly. I also had some work at the Class Act Gallery, and that was a good experience. It is sad that he is gone. He was a good photographer. Thanks for asking, and have a great day. . .Karen

  2. Phyllis Fitzsimons Avatar

    Very well stated and great direction for any “want to be”, including me!
    Thank you Karen!!

    1. karenulvestad Avatar

      Thank you Phyllis. . .

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