I’m excited to share this months Photographer of the Month: Candace Dyar! She’s been of a big inspiration to me since I discovered her work a couple years ago. She has a calm yet dramatic style to here images that I enjoy and I love the fact that most of her photography is from less photographed locations.
I hope you enjoy this interview and make sure that you visit her website and social media! You can find the links at the bottom of the interview.
1. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about who you are and how you got started with photography?
Thank you for asking me. I’m just your average PNW nature photographer taking pretty photos from my journeys. I got started about 9 years ago after picking up an SLR while working in retail as a Territory Manager, and it sort of went from there.
I would photograph scenes from along my hikes and so forth, and began sharing it all with a supportive artistic community via social media. It ultimately has been extremely therapeutic for me and I can’t see myself existing without it now.
2. I feel that your images are both dreamy and atmospheric, often with dramatic light – how would you describe your photographic style?
I think that it’s always evolving and changing. If I stay doing one thing for too long, I get bored as many people tend to do. I’m definitely not a person of routine and enjoy change-ups in both my workflow and style. Meaning that I might gravitate towards one style and then move towards another…it’s always flowing. I think that is the nature of being an artist though, right? But if someone tells me they think I have dreamy and atmospheric images, I’ll definitely take that as a compliment, so thank you for that.
It’s more about being true to yourself and how you’re feeling at the time. It might not be an easy thing to unravel, but it’s yours to explore as you’re there alone in the creation process. I definitely like to experiment.
3. I’ve read that Hudson River School painters such as Albert Bierstadt have been some of your sources of inspiration. How have these painters influenced you as an artist?
I think the fascination originated back in college when I was studying Art History. I remember my favorite college professor putting up “Among the Sierra Nevada, California” and “The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak” by Bierstadt on the screen and I was instantly blown away. The dramatic light, reflection on Native American culture and history, and how he was somehow able to convey such an emotional moment in a painting was something I immediately gravitated towards. It honestly moved me to tears. I was transported there to these incredibly pristine and gorgeous, untainted places he had painted, and had a desire to experience something profound like that myself.
The dramatic light seen in the paintings from the Hudson River School has definitely inspired me to the point where I think it can be seen in a lot of my landscape images with mountains. It’s just something I think I naturally gravitate towards, and I do tend to enhance the drama a bit in post processing to reflect that.
4. Are there any specific things you look for in an image? Could you take us through some of the processes before pressing the shutter?
I look for some sort of connection emotionally and to hopefully tell a story. Yes, of course composition and processing are important but ultimately it needs to move the viewer in some way.
For me, at this point I think I can generally tell if someone is putting an image out there for “likes” and popularity, or if it’s actually because they have an inherent connection with nature and a need there to evolve as a human. I try my best now to go beyond the obvious, but I’m still guilty of shooting what has already been seen. If it’s been repeatedly seen and done though, then there’s really not much of any point for me to throw another 100th version of my own out there to the world, so I do try to avoid that if at all possible. For me, it should really be about how I’m connecting with the land and expressing something personal with the viewer.
5. How important is post-processing for your photography?
That’s a difficult question to answer for me, mainly because I want what I show to others to be an authentic representation of what I actually experienced at the time I took the image. I want others to get a glimpse of what I was thinking and feeling, and to understand why they should care about these wild areas.
More than anything, I’m trying to convey an emotional experience. If I can’t translate that through my post- processing and art, then I see no point in actually doing this at all. Subtle, yet effective is the ultimate goal for me.
6. You’ve mentioned that besides photographing and leading workshops, you have a full-time job and you’re a mother of a teenage girl. How do you find time to work on your photographic portfolio?
It’s tough, that’s for sure. Trying to find that balance can make anyone feel like they’re losing their mind sometimes, especially if you have a creative backbone and have to perform at a tedious day job.
I always keep in my mind that it’s something I’m striving more towards day to day, making this passion more of a full-time thing if possible but for now, leading workshops part-time seems to work best for me and my schedule. And even that is a lot to juggle. But doing this part-time also allows me some freedom to not fall into the trap of showing people what they might want to see, versus what I want to express personally. I do think that is something a lot of people who do this for a living struggle with internally because you want to remain true to yourself.
Having stated all of that, it’s extremely difficult trying to follow your heart, yet also remain logical sometimes, especially financially when there’s a child in the picture that you are providing for. The fact that very few people are able to make a full-time living out of Nature/Landscape Photography successfully is always there in my mind. My primary focus is my daughter right now and making sure that she is able to become a successful adult, with a more than adequate amount of love and support. She’s my heart and what keeps me going every day.
7. You’ve been quite active in advocating topics such as nature preservation. What role do you think landscape photographers have when it comes to advocating and protecting nature?
I think that we’re in a unique position to do something powerful, come together and collaborate in order to inform the public about nature preservation, monument protections, etc through the promotion of our imagery and self-expression.
I do really hope that more landscape and nature photographers will begin to speak out and be advocates for protecting our wild lands, monuments and National Parks. There’s really no reason to be doing this thing called landscape photography to begin with if these places don’t exist any longer, and given the current state of affairs in the White House, there’s a real possibility for a lot of protections to be reversed (as we’re already seeing).
8. Following up on the previous question, in what way do you think photography is impacting the landscapes? Both negatively and positively.
I think that “Leave No Trace” and ”Leave it Better than You Found It” need to have much greater significance and meaning to people nowadays. I really believe that we are so disconnected at this point in general over the past few generations from Mother Nature that we are in a crisis of sorts.
Additionally, we’re seeing this whole new generation of Instagram photographers, many of whom are only doing this for publicity and “likes”, and could care less about nature and the impact we are having. A lack of compassion and empathy I think is central to the crisis we are all facing.
On the other side of the coin, I think that nature and landscape photography can be used positively to promote conservation and create awareness that these lands are invaluable and should be defended.
That people need to stand up for them and make their voices heard when there are intentions to exploit them for monetary gains. I think in general there is a lack of awareness in the public about just exactly what is going on right now with Escalante and the oil pipelines that are being given the okay to pursue, regardless of the percentage of people who would rather not have them there. If we make enough noise, we’re able to make a difference and push back against policies that are far from being popular with the public, but the awareness needs to be there first. That’s where us landscape and nature photographers can really make an impact and try to defend Mother Earth.
9. What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started with landscape photography?
Spend an equal amount of time exploring on your own (as you do with others), and learn to embrace your differences and anything that might make you stand out. I think that having that alone time and solitude in nature is essential for artistic growth, and for your own emotional and developmental well being. Don’t be so quick to follow what others might be gravitating towards, rather learn from it and embrace that spark you might have that sets you apart.
10. What’s one piece of equipment that you always carry in your backpack?
An emergency GPS enabled rescue/locator beacon. It’s incredibly handy if I know what I’ll be hiking or backpacking in an area alone with no reception, as you never know what might happen along the way.
11. Anything else you want to add?
I’ve been working on a new website that I hope to have finished here within the next couple of weeks. It’s been a tedious and lengthy process, but there will be a lot of new work included from various travels over the past several years, so I’m looking forward to finally putting that out there.