Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sublime Planet! Meet Ann Howley, the illustrator

As some of you may already know, I've got a new book scheduled for release on Earth Day (April 22nd).  There are a few aspects of this book that particularly excite me.  One is that it's another poetry collaboration with talented poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  Another is that it's a full-length poetry collection which is all environmentally themed, and we're partnering with a sustainability charity, using the profits to support a wonderful cause (more on that soon!).  I'm also very excited about the amazing photographer we've partnered with: Ann Howley.  Ann's work is so exquisite, inspired by her travels, her love of the natural world, and by what is clearly a very well-honed eye for the visual.  Ann's work appears on the cover and inside the book and I've invited her to drop by the blog for a little chat.  

Your images are so evocative - what inspires you?

I think I’m inspired by the moment.  Since each moment is different and I am different in each moment, I am attracted to different things all the time. That makes it fun to look back at images from previous photo outings to relive what I was seeing at the time.

There's obviously a relationship between the looking, and the moment when you decide that what you're seeing has to be captured on camera - frozen in time or turned from perception into art.  Talk to me about that and how you know when to take a photo.  

My full dive into photography came just as digital cameras were coming popular.  At the time, I was learning photography basics as well as dark room printing. The shift to digital allowed me to pursue photography in a big way because of the cost reduction.  It used to cost me over $1,000 to get film processed after a trip. With digital, after the large cost investment in cameras, the cost is minimal. I don’t have fear of “wasting pixels.”

All that is to say that I don’t really think about when is the “right” moment any more. If I see something that intrigues me, I shoot. Sometimes it’s one shot and sometimes that starts me digging further into what I am seeing.

In 2009, you went on a pilgrimage.  Tell me about the impact of that on your work.

Yes, I walked 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. I think the pilgrimage expanded my ability to see, but also allowed me to not rely so much on my camera.  About a third of the way into my pilgrimage, I damaged the borrowed camera I had brought (because my camera with accessories weighed seven pounds and was not conducive to backpacking!).  While the camera sounded like it was capturing images, I had no way to be sure.  I had to decide if the trip was about “the journey” or “capturing the journey”.  I decided on the former and didn’t stop to get the camera repaired.  With that, I packed the camera and only took it out for shots I really wanted.  On shots I considered “must haves,” I set the camera on automatic, thinking it might compensate for the damage. Ironically, the camera was set up for very small files, so the images I wanted most, I didn’t get.

I will be going on my second pilgrimage this May to Portugal and Spain. It will be interesting to see how my answer to the question changes.

Much of your work is nature oriented.  Has this always been the case for you? Why - what draws you to your subjects?

I think of my work as originally travel oriented, but I guess my travel choices are often nature oriented. I wanted to go to Africa ever since seeing the movie “Born Free” as a child.  Once I visited Kenya and Tanzania in 1995, everything connected. What I love about shooting nature and wildlife is the peace of being in a beautiful setting, far away from everyday life. I love the quiet. I could sit watching a sunset or waiting for the perfect pose of a lion, bird or even butterfly for as long as the opportunity presents itself. It’s a meditation.

1 comment:

  1. Magdalena, I'm so glad you thought of this interview. We were so lucky to know of Ann's work and I owe very talented writer Emily Heebner a big thanks for introducing me to her work by given me her beautiful cards with her landscrape and animal images on them. It's wonderful how networking is really just a way to extend caring for others.

    I think we make a great poetry-book producing team! (-:


    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Excited about how much the new edition of the Frugal Book Promoter (expanded! updated!) can help writers with the tried and true and the new media, too. Now a USA Book News award-winner in its own right ( it the original edition was also a Reader Views winner and an Irwin Award winner.