Life Is a Photo Op | Deb Schwedhelm

Deb Schwedhelm |

Where are you from?
I’m originally from Detroit, MI, but when I was 23, I joined the Air Force [as a Registered Nurse] and have been moving every few years ever since (DC, MS, AZ, FL, WA, CA).

Where do you currently live?
We currently live in Tampa, FL. We’ll be here for another 1-1/2 years [or so] and then we’ll move on, to my husband’s next Navy assignment.

How long have you been shooting?
I bought my first DSLR in January 2006. I began teaching myself photography and have never looked back.

Are you self-taught or schooled in photography?

Do you photograph for a living or is this a hobby?
Well, I guess you could say that I photograph for a living, although we don’t depend on my photography income to necessarily live.

What is in your camera bag?
I’m kind of an equipment junkie, which isn’t exactly a good thing. But what’s in my main bag is:
Nikon D3S
Nikon D700 [backup]
Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G
Nikkor 35mm f/2D
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
Lensbaby composer
Polaroid SX-70

Do you shoot digital or film or both?
I have a few film cameras; however, I can’t say that I really shoot them, with the exception of my SX-70. I mostly shoot digital.

Why do you love Digital?
I love digital for a couple reasons: I love the instant gratification and I love the flexibility it allows. However, I must share how very important it is, just as with film, that you nail the exposure in-camera.

How did this project come about?
My 366 project all started with a gift I got for Christmas – A Photo A Day album. I had attempted a photo a day a couple times in previous years, but it always felt so forced. It felt wrong from the start. My heart wasn’t in it. This year was different, something magical happened and the photo taking seems such a natural part of my every day.

What is it about this project that speaks personally about you?
For the longest time, I wasn’t photographing my kids unless I was doing so, as part of a formal-type of shoot. I was frustrated and kept telling myself that I needed to get back to photographing the everyday of my kids – not just the pretty portraits. I was so frustrated with myself and sad for my kids. I didn’t want them to grow up, not having their real life documented.

I had tried a number of things to get myself shooting my kids’ everyday lives [e.g. purchasing a point & shoot, taking phone pictures, starting a 365 project], but nothing ever seemed to pan out. In the past, I felt the pressure and frustration of having to take a daily photograph, but for some reason, this year is different. And I’m having so much fun with it. I also feel like it’s pushing me as a photographer – I’m encouraged to see differently and challenge myself.

Because this project is about documenting a bit of the everyday moments of my kids and family, every part of this project speaks personally about me.

What would you want this project to say to the viewer?
That’s a hard question to answer because I am doing this for me; not for the viewer. I don’t ever want to have the pressure of what the viewer might be feeling or thinking about my images. I am happy with whatever the viewer chooses to feel, when looking at my 366 images.

Are you currently shooting or planning to shoot another personal project?
I always seem to have a number of ongoing personal projects. Some involve my children; some involve other children. The great thing about projects is that they allow me to fully shoot the way I want to shoot. I have no one to impress or answer to but me.

If so, what is the goal you are trying to achieve from that project?
I think my goal with every personal project is to push myself and create a collection of images that embraces who I am as a person and photographer.

How do you keep challenging yourself photographically?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot every day if you can. Take risks; don’t settle on comfortable. Don’t be discouraged by misses and failures; learn from them and be encouraged. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Learn from those willing to share. And be willing to share with others because through the process, growth can and most likely happen for you too.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

sharon February 9, 2012 at 8:41 am

Love the photos as usual! What draws me to your work is how you combine the artistic impact of the images with the everydayness of most of the subject matter.

Carolyn February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

So look forward to your posts. Love your photos but rarely comment. Agree with Sharon, love the realness of life, but you make the most mundane activities look so artistic. I’m sure your beautiful family makes it much easier for you.

karen linnell February 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

thank you for the inspiration deb. i am trying to do the same with my children but i already feel behind and it is only february. i am going to keep pushing myself. thanks for the boost!

blog mode femme February 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm

j’adore ce blog!

Amy Nieto February 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

I am so moved by this imagery. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful, beautiful.

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