That beautiful, distinguished sunset you see above was captured by Trish van den Berg, the subject of Photo Potpourri's inaugural "Photographer in the Spotlight" interivew.
In the two years that I've maintained a photo gallery at photo.net, I've come to appreciate the work of fellow photo.net photographers, including Trish. As her bio at photo.net states, Trish was born and raised in Holland, has lived in the United States and Spain, and for almost 20 years now has resided in the Bahamas. Her portfolios and galleries at three sites – photo.net, Fotki.com and DeviantArt – support her self-description as a nature photographer. Her specialties are sunsets, skyscapes and the animal-reptile-insect kingdom – and all the images you see in her collection (and in this post) were taken in the
Trish, how (and when) did you get into photography? Was it an interest that developed over time, or did you throw yourself into it right away?
I have always enjoyed photography, even as a child. When my two children were born, I made each of them their own albums to take with them once they moved out of the house. I have made at least 50 albums over the years. Then, in 1996, somebody told me about photo sharing on line, and I took notice and great interest in that. I love to share my work and see the reactions of people worldwide, and I enjoy their work and learning from it, while at the same time, I grow and get better. I am not very protective of my work as so many artists are. I love to share and see it on sites. I think we need to share with everybody on this planet. I saw a photograph of my wonderful dad on a Web site about old people in the world. A picture that I took of him was next to a picture of Mother Theresa, and my dad was so taken by it. I was so happy to see that as well. As long as people do not abuse it, I think it is wonderful that it is being shared...
What gives you the most pleasure, satisfaction or fulfillment in your work?
The most pleasure I get out of my work is when I have done a piece, and I put it on my wall – in the the garage, living room or anyplace. It does not matter where it ends up. It is such a satisfaction to see it, and I get so much confidence from that. When it is on the wall, I know I have done a good piece. Plus the thousands of comments and questions I get from random people from all over the world on the Web sites – it is so fulfilling! Plus, I am not a churchgoer, but being so close to nature I so feel the spirituality of our amazing beings … human beings and creatures …
At your DeviantArt site, you identify yourself as a nature photographer. For sure, the vast majority of your photographs are taken outdoors -- landscapes, sunsets, sky/sea vistas and members of the animal, bird and reptile kingdoms. How did you pick those as your focus of interest?
I photograph as I walk … as I stroll through the nature trails I photograph it when the sun hits that spot so incredibly that I feel it is a cry for attention from nature. "Look, here I am. Take it before the sun moves away from me!" I don't particularly look for things to photograph; I just walk and see and click. I sit with my animals for hours, and they crawl over me, and I am in heaven … and I feel so one with nature.
Do you have interest in and/or indulge in other forms of photography -- such things as portraiture, street photography, architecture -- and simply elect not to include those in your online portfolios?
I do, yes I do. I have really a bit of everything in my photos that I store. I feel I am only beginning. I have done fashion work as well. I just did a shoot for a French artist, photographing her jewelry that she makes, and it is on her Web site.
Do you have a favorite lens? How have you adjusted to the Canon 5D, and what are the pros and cons of it vs. the 30D?
My all-time fave lens is the macro lens. Never knew this lens before, and it is a must to own if you enjoy macro work, and it is a lens with lots of possibilities. Also the wide-angle lens is a nice extra to have. You can make so many fun shots with it. I still prefer the 30D over the 5D. My macro lens and my wide angle will not fit on the 5D. The 30D is a very, very easy camera to use. I would recommend the 30D over the 5D. That's just my personal preference. I am still getting to know the 5D, as a matter of fact.
Which of your images tend to fetch the most comments or interest? And how popular, would you say, are the series of "framing" – or integrating – the setting sun around either a natural element (such as a rock formation or plant, tree or bush) or a human subject (hand formations and such)?
If you go to my DA (DeviantArt) site, you can view the most popular photos in my gallery and the amount of hits they get. All my animal shots are the most popular. The cute shots of baby rabbits and chickens are very, very popular. Yes, framing of the sun … playing with the sun … making the photo special is the key. Everybody can take a photo, but it needs that extra something that makes you want to go back and look at it again. The light is the most important subject on a photo. It can make or break even the most beautiful subject … or the most boring subject. The background is also very important, making sure that your eye doesn't go to a bright spot. I look at a photo, and I can tell right away if something bothers me. It jumps out at me, so to get the photo right, it has to be perfect. My eye goes directly to the part that bothers me. I want my photo to have a bit of art in it. That's the secret: It becomes art, rather then just a photo. That's always my goal.
Have you ever had any of your work published, or displayed in a public gallery or exhibit? Have you made your work available for sale at arts and/or crafts fairs? If so, how was the experience? If not, is that something you would like to do some time?
I am about to have my first official exhibit in April/June this year. I am so excited, and we just went over the 40 shots that will be exhibited. I do sell a print once in a while on DA, and it is a great feeling to know that my work is in some living room or garage or kid's room. I have made a wonderful children's book that I have given away to my friends and family over Christmas, and it is so, so popular that I am thinking of publishing it in a serious matter.
Are there any subjects or types of photography you haven't tackled yet that either intrigues you immensely or you would like to undertake sometime?
Yes, I am very interested in the human body. That's something I would love to photograph and get into. I think with time, I will look into that further. Plus, I want to go to
Explore more of Trish van den Berg's work: