I consider myself to be a "photo-artist" -- someone who sees her subject with an artist's eye before capturing it photographically.
I was introduced to photography by an art instructor and painter over thirty years ago. She first taught me the conceptual elements of design -- line, shape, value, color, space, texture and composition -- before allowing me to capture my first image. At the time, I was frustrated and quite anxious to start taking photographs. In retrospect, I realize she was teaching me the basics of art so I would have a solid foundation on which to base my craft. I have spent years mastering these concepts, and I apply them to each and every photograph.
Although I did take a few semesters of photography during my college years, I am mostly self-taught. I began capturing images with black and white film and developing it in my home darkroom. I later began shooting color slides, and with much resistance, in 2006 I make the leap to digital photography. Now I only shoot digitally, applying the basic photo techniques used in traditional photography. I utilize the digital darkroom for importing, cropping, enlarging, dodging, burning, etc. I do not apply the more commonly utilized techniques of today's digital photographers such as over-saturation of color, HDR (High Dynamic Range), extensive cloning, etc. I like the natural shadows and highlights of mother nature and don't wish to eliminate them through software programs which tend to give a surreal appearance to the image. I refer to myself as "old school" or "an antique". I am in no way criticizing the new photo manipulation techniques adopted by many of the photographers today. The digital art they create is often quite beautiful. I just prefer the more natural look. I want my images to convey the scene as I saw it, through my camera with my own two eyes. I hope you enjoy it too.
I took a photography course in school because my classes were advanced and I needed a break from the heavy curriculum. Little did I realize how this simple decision would someday change my life.
Growing up focused on academics, photography was never a career option for me. I pursued a profession in business and eventually landed in pharmacy. The long hours were exhausting. Tired and stressed, my husband and I took a spontaneous vacation and found ourselves standing at the base of a North Carolina waterfall with camera in hand. Although the scenery was incredible, the achiever in me had us running waterfall to waterfall, trying to photograph as many waterfalls as possible. In fact, we hiked to over 50 in 10 short days. I was focused on the goal I had set, paying no attention to the concept of vacation. (Type A) Days later in a moment of clarity, everything changed! While sitting at the base of some unknown waterfall deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my mind and body let go ... and I simply breathed! The stress and cares of responsibility vanished. It was just me and the monotonous sound of falling water! I sensed the breeze as water crashed over the rocks into the pool at my feet and sending a welcomed mist across my face. I noticed the rainbow forming as beams of light parted the forest trees and enveloped the lagoon. How could I have not seen such poetry in motion before now? Every once in a while you experience one of those clarifying moments that changes everything. I saw the world for the first time -- really saw it. I contemplated how I had worked my way through life and lost sight of what really mattered -- living! It took time in nature to open my eyes and rejuvenate my spirit. The photographs I took during this trip are not very good, but I keep them as reminder of how far I've come. Now my photographs are a reflection of freedom. Through my photography I hope to not just share pretty imagery, but communicate a sense of peace and understanding. The viewer may never physically stand in the spot I stood, but just maybe the serenity of the scene will transcend the printed canvas and enable the viewer to take a moment and simply ... exhale. I now spend my days chasing waterfalls -- both physically and metaphorically!
Marshall Gordon of Bold Life Magazine has described her images as "a wide variety of beautifully composed, hauntingly original nature scenes saturated with deep, textured colors...exposures so painterly, that many of her clients insist that's exactly what they are."
Susan Stanton has spent nearly two decades traveling and photographing the beauty and rustic charm that is known as the Southern Appalachians. She shoots her subjects in carefully selected lighting conditions to emphasize their natural textures and colors.
Susan's work has appeared on the covers of Blue Ridge Country Magazine, Carolina Arts Magazine, WNC Relocation Guide, Land of Waterfalls Telephone Directory, The Laurel of Asheville and Laurel of Highlands magazines. Her images have also been featured in Nature's Best Photography Magazine, Our State Magazine, Bold Life Magazine, Rapid River Magazine and the Asheville Citizen Times to name but a few.
Venues where Susan's work has been on display include the Biltmore Estate, National Parks Conservation Association, Asheville Area Arts Council, Henderson County Arts Council, Black Mountain Center for the Arts, Haywood County Arts Council, Transylvania County Arts Council, Pack Place, and the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest. Her work has also been in featured in countless private venues and galleries across the tri-state region.
Susan Stanton is the founder of the Southern Appalachian Photographers Guild (SAPG), a member of the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC), the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), and is a lifetime member of the Golden Key Honor Society. She supports local groups associated with protecting our natural world such as Friends of the Smokies, Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, etc. As a seasoned professional photographer, she has been a teacher, speaker, mentor and judge. Her work can be found in private collections world-wide..