Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph Blog What Draws me to Photography? – Dr. Ellen's Blog

What Draws me to Photography?

Posted on February 5, 2012 By

Photography is a creative endeavor for me.

I have explored the creative arts over the years – rhythm tap when I was young, then later classical piano, flute, watercolor and oil painting, note card making, the saxophone — these things have gone with me through life and all hold a special place in my heart.

But those things didn’t allow me to be as creative as I felt I could be. And then I discovered photography. Suddenly I found that I could weave together universal dualities with more ordinary visions of our world in a way that would peek my own curiosity. I love puzzles and I love to puzzle, and to be able to engage in such delightful ways of thinking as a photographer made it all that much more worthwhile for me.

Dualism among other things is about self-consciousness, and about the relationship between mind and body. This is weighty stuff that makes me want to wander far and wide to find yet more examples of this dichotomous interface.

deck_lines*Deck lines found at Historic Jamestown

Thus, I no longer go out looking just for pretty pictures: my search is for patterns that repeat, for flowing movement, for undercurrents that subtly define my subject. I look, as well, for shadows and reflections, contrasts, and interesting juxtapositions. Even in faces I look a defining angle, the personality revealed, or that glimmer of life looking back at me through my viewfinder.

Photography is really just another way of being in the world. [And my piano is way too big for my Domke.]

Photography is also a marvelous mid-life accessory.

Like a kid on a field trip, I slip a camera into my backpack and off I go, looking under rocks and crossing creeks to find another window into the physical world. Nothing much separates the ten year old in me from my sixty-some self at those times; except that as a ten year old I watched a butterfly with glee and captured tadpoles just to watch them grow in little glass jars on my back stoop, all with nothing so much as a few marbles in my hand. As a sixty-some self I also watch the butterfly with glee and I capture tadpoles just to be able to witness the miracle of life emerge, but I do these things with a camera in tow.

Photography keeps me reaching.

I have had the fortune to travel the world from Paris to Provence, from Switzerland and the UK to Singapore, from one corner of the Australian continent to the other, through most all of South Africa and Namibia, Suriname, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, Costa Rica – as well as the throughout the United States which I call home. Yet it always comes down to this simple fact: that the world at large is a wondrous place, and it is constantly underfoot. We don’t really have to go far afield to find magical things to photograph. Those things are everywhere if only we take the time to look.

A frog in the Australian outback is no more interesting than the frog I used to stick in my pocket from the creek and carry home for a while, long enough to teach me that frogs are really amazing things. It is just as fun for me to sit in a garden all day photographing spring flowers under a diffusion tent as it is for me to hang half-way out of a helicopter photographing the marvels of Australia’s Bungle Bungles.

It’s just when I travel I also get to meet new friends.

I told everyone, for example, that I was headed to Provence “to do photography” but, really, if the truth be known, I went there to meet Jean Percet the painter and Mark Dumas the Provencal poet, and his interesting friends Denis and Solange Brihat; and my neighbor in the tiny village of St. Saturnin d’Apt whose dog greeted me every morning in search of a sausage treat.

I also went there to meet Ursula and Hans-Peter from Switzerland who were lying in that luxurious poppy field just waiting for a photograph to happen.

If I get any good photographs of that wonderful Luberon region of Provence then it will be because of the feelings that stirred in me as I interacted with the people who made that place come alive for me.

You can judge for yourself: you can find my Provencal image collections here.


Remember that the next time you click the shutter button.

If it were just about the graceful Irises that line my back fence I wouldn’t ever have to go anywhere again. I would be content to just sit here in my very own beautiful garden.

Flowers aren’t the thing, though, are they?

I am reminded of my eldest brother, Philip, who had more friends in life than most people have flowers in their garden. The only real difference between us is that my garden hugs the planet and I probably have a few more interesting memories in my pockets.

Some years ago I traded a computer for Philip’s dusty 16mm f2.8 manual Nikkor lens. Little did I know what interesting things were ahead for me as I tinkered with that magical lens. Every time I reach for it I feel just a little closer to my ever-watchful brother who died in his sleep as my plane was racing across the Atlantic to Paris and then on to Sydney, Australia.

Click….Click….Count those lovely little moments…life is full of  them!