It has been really interesting to learn something about our guest photographers who have been highlighted on our banner. However we also wanted to ask our blog contributors the same questions. So today we will get to learn a little more about Sharleen from Sharleen Stuart Photography
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a wife, a mom to 2 grown children and 2 furry kids, a employee, and a wanna be retiree. I was born and raised in South Africa. We have always been an “outdoors” family doing a lot of tent camping, and RV camping . In 1987(before children), Richard and I tent camped Europe for 4 weeks and then stayed in the United Kingdom for 2 weeks. That was one of the best experiences we had. We were able to visit so many different places, and meet so many different people and learn about cultures across Europe. Moving through the United Kingdom we traveled using B&B’s and staying with friends and family. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s we traveled in and around South Africa, staying in the Transkei, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.
In 2001 we moved to the United States. Change such as emigration is huge in one’s life. You give up so much, so that you can give so much more. We left behind all our family so that our kids could have an opportunity to have a better future. But it is not easy. That said, the USA has become my home. I am very settled here and love where this journey has taken us. Staying in the tip of Florida means that it is costly to fly out, and time consuming to leave Florida. We spend a lot of time in Florida between St Augustine and the Florida Keys. We have had the opportunity to visit South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Nashville via road trips, and to Seattle, Denver , San Francisco and Las Vegas via flight. Most of those destinations have been to meet up with family. Leaving the USA we have relaxed on the beautiful beaches of Jamaica. What I love about going to new places is meeting the people. Learning more about who they are and what they do in their home country.
Hobbies aside from my family and photography ~ reading, writing, genealogy, some design work, nature, the beach, walking through the wetlands, kayaking. I do not like bugs that eat me though.
Are you a hobbyist or a pro?
I am a hobbyist, although I have taken a few paying clients. Working full time and taking clients is not an easy combination. People will quickly identify me as a nature photographer, and I do a lot of that. Florida has given me nature in my back garden, beautiful sunsets, stunning beaches, and the opportunity to photograph what captures my attention. Travel provides other opportunities for me to photograph cities and scenery.
I am currently looking into how to set up a “shop” on my webpage to sell fine art.
2014: I love the outdoors, especially sunrises and sunsets. I love critters and we have so many in our back garden. Incredible birds, Alligators, Raccoon, an opossum sleeping under the deck, squirrels that come for their nuts only to find them stolen by the Blue Jays, Wood Ducks that come for their food, Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Ibis, Green Herons and many more. The story about these little chicks takes place in the wetlands though. I happened to spot a nest with 3 eggs in them belong to a Red Wing Blackbird family. So, since I worked 2 days full time in the office and 2 days part time from home, I decided to keep an eye on this family. Every two days I went to the nest and sat down on the board walk and took photos of the different stages of growth. I really felt invested in them, and then on day 8 I went to the nest and it was broken and the chicks were gone. I was devastated. I still firmly believe they were too young to fly and to be honest that is the last time I have invested a large part of me in nature. It was too hard!
What will we find in your camera bag?
Way too much stuff. I am a Canon Girl. When I decided to buy my first DSLR Camera I was at a loss as to what to get and so I got the Rebel T3i. I loved that camera but I wanted to go full frame. In 2015, I took a deep breath and purchased the Canon 6D. For that camera, I have the 70-300mm f/4 -5.6 IS USM, the 35-125mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, the macro 100mm 1:2.8L IS USM, the 50mm F1.8 ll, a Yongnuo Speedlight, YN565EX 11, the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the sweet 35 optic and the soft focus optic. The twist optic is on order. I also have a Canon waterproof Photoshot D20.
Added to that you will find a rain jacket (since I go out into the wetlands), a rain cover for my camera, extra lens covers and backs (in case I drop the covers through the walkway slats), extra batteries, my manuals, and when I travel my charger. In addition to that I carry eye glasses, tinted glasses, a contact lens case, a spare set of contact lens, my wallet, a brush, some mint chewing gum and a bottle of water. And yes it does make for a heavy bag but I am glad to have my stuff with me. When I know I only need a specific lens I will drop down to a smaller bag.
2015: In February of 2015, my daughter had a serious accident which resulted in her have to have some major dental surgery over the next 6 months. February was her first surgery and so I headed up to where she was living 4.5 hours away from where I live. One morning while she was sleeping, so I went and sat outside on her front steps to watch the world and drink my coffee and take a few photo’s. Across the road was a barber shop and every morning the barber would come outside and put 3 piles of biscuits out for the stray cats. This guy lazily stretched backwards and then forwards before meandering over to get his biscuits. Over the next 6 months Amy made friends with and began feeding what she called “baby boy”. In June before she moved overseas, she asked us to adopt this little man. Simba as he is now known has lived with us for over a year. At the time that I took this image, I had no idea that he would become part of our lives.
Who inspires you?
I feel like I have a number of people who have inspired me along the way. My two photography teachers in high school are probably my first source of inspiration and through Facebook I have been able to reconnect with them again, Vera Castleman, and Donald McKenzie. My first camera was a kodak instamatic. In high school I joined the photography class, where the camera was better and where we developed our own images. While others may have been smoking stuff, I think I got “high” on developers fumes.
My daughter inspires me. I love to see the images she takes. She is creative and will take at angles I do not even think of. Right now she is living in Macedonia working for the Peace Corp and I have fallen in love with Macedonia just looking at her images.
I have not studied great photographers. If I see something I like I tuck it away in the back of my mind. What I do like is photographers who are willing to come alongside you and encourage you. Who help to build you up, and help you grow. Who will share their knowledge when you are struggling. I personally think they are truly great photographers.
Photography is so subjective that if you are trying – keep at it. Learn from others. I do it all the time.
2015: This is a favorite of mine. Experimental photography is all that I can call it. I happened to find this large Vulture feather on the ground one day after I had spent some time at the local shopping center dumpster photographing the vultures feeding on the remains of who knows what in the dumpster bin. Later that week, I pulled out a mirror and placed the feather on it, and then took the image looking towards the wall behind it. What I love about this image is that, for me, it has the feel of being taken on the beach
What inspired you to pick up your camera initially.
Would it sound really bad if I said it was a way to get out of sports lol. It was!! I opted for art classes after school, speech and drama, photography classes. Unfortunately I had to play field hockey. But I played right back, and most of the time up against the goal posts talking to the goalie. Clearly, as you may gather, I am not a sports fanatic.
I got back into photography because of my mother. I decided to invest in a more expensive camera with some of the money she left me after she died. It is because of her that I can do this today. I want to honor her memory with the gift she has given me.
2016: When I was still shooting with the Rebel T31, I discovered reverse ring photography and so started my love with Macro. One day I was browsing through one of my photography groups and I found someone that was selling her macro lens. It was not cheap and I thought hard about whether I could afford it. In the end I decided to go for it and put it on my card and pay it off. It was one of the best moves I made. I love this lens. Added to that I love taking portraits with it as well. This particular photo was taken on the side of our house where we have a variegated leaf plant growing. The water drops on the leaves always look amazing.
Photoshop or Lightroom? and why that choice?
Photoshop is what I use, although I hear really good things about editing in Lightroom. When I decided to get my camera, I also decided to get CS6. My intention was to learn In-Design and Illustrator. At the time I was working on a lot of editorial items and In-Design would have helped once I learned it. Today my occupation has shifted so much that I rarely have the use for either programs. However, one day I will spend some time learning them. Who knows, perhaps one day I will consider purchasing Lightroom.
2016: This photograph was taken at the South Florida Renaissance Fair. If you learn one more thing about me, I have a huge interest in genealogy and period history. The Renaissance Fair feeds that for me. It is such fun to go out and see everyone dressed in costume and having a good time. I asked this guy if I could take his photo, and he pulled this pose. It was so intense that he reminded me of stories like Game of Thrones, and Vikings. I loved everything about this guy.
If you had to choose one area of specialization what would that be and why?
If all things were equal and there were no hardships involved, I would choose travel photography (preferably international travel) and black and white street photography.
Travel photography broadens your horizons, allows you to meet new people, shows you different lifestyles. It allows you to do documentary photography. It enables you to engage for a period of time in someone else’s life. Many times it will humble you, when you realize just how fortunate you are with the life you live.
I recently discovered that I love street photography, and cities just seem so much more defined in black and white. Every time I edited an image of Seattle I found myself being drawn to the black and white version.
2016: Seattle and street photography quickly caught my attention. I love the incredible buildings and what I could capture looking up or looking down. This building is the Seattle Columbia Building which goes up 72 floors. On floor 52 is Starbucks. So we headed up to floor 52 to see what we could see. Back down on the ground, I wanted to try and get a good view of where we had been. This is the result of that. There was something about the Seattle images that kept pulling me to black and white, and I have really developed a love for black and white photography.
To follow Sharleen, you can click on these links.
Website & Blog Facebook Google Instagram Flickr
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