Interview – Susan Chapman

FA photo


It was actually my jewelry making that led me to photography.  I wanted the best macro point and click on the market to take photos of the gemstones that I use in my pieces.  So, I got a Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH SD1000 and I took it everywhere with me.  What I re-discovered was the love for photography that I had given up so many years ago.  The Canon opened up a world for me that film never could.  One day I ran across a photography group at my local Starbucks and they gave me the best advice at that point in time: if I ever wanted to take my photography to the next level I had to get a DSLR.  I had no idea what that meant, but did some research, and sadly discovered that the prices for those cameras were well beyond my reach.  But it didn’t stop me from continuing to take photos.  When the County Fair was accepting entry applications, I entered for the first time.  To my absolute joy I won 1st place in my photography division, 1st & 2nd place in Jewelry and 3rd place in Costumes.  Coincidentally, it was at this time that I was able to purchase my first DSLR – a Nikon D5200, and because of the wins, I felt no guilt in the money I had spent on the camera a couple of days earlier! That was June/July of 2015.  I am now learning post processing, what all the buttons on the camera do and coming to terms with the fact that a kit lens is frustratingly limiting.

Creating in photography is an evolving process for me.  Originally I took pictures of things that interested me and discovered through people’s comments that others liked the photos too.  It wasn’t until I was putting my entry together for the County Fair that I actually started to think in terms of composition.  That has since evolved into, what story do I want the photograph to tell? Some need help, others don’t.  Some actually have a story; some are for pure visual enjoyment.  I don’t always go out looking for a story, but later when I am viewing the photos on the computer I realize some have something to say and they just need me to help them say it.

These particular shots were taken on a day when I went to Davenport Landing Beach.  After I got there I noticed the dog, she was friendly, but a bit aloof.  After settling in, I walked over to another part of the beach, a rockier part and whether the dog was following me or if it was just coincidental, I have no idea.  But then she went off and set herself up to wait for the waves.  Except I had no idea, so I stopped and watched for a moment from the distance a bit bemused.  When the wave hit she jumped and did a complete somersault.  After I got done laughing I couldn’t get close enough to her quick enough silently hoping she would do it again so I could capture it.  She was beyond amazing to watch and the only reason I didn’t fill up my memory card of photos of her was because my battery died!

I love photography, but I also write poetry, short-shorts, suspense fiction and am working on my first book.  As I mentioned earlier I do make jewelry and the jewelry pieces also have stories in them.  Sometimes it’s nothing more than what I envision the piece to look like, other times I am deliberately making a statement.  In addition, I sew/make costumes for the local community theater.

Creating was not really encouraged growing up.  I was in Drama, Drama Club, Choir, Speech, Speech Club, German, German Club, a Secret Sister, participated in the Academic Decathlon , and had a piece of poetry published in the school’s poetry book.  Yet, these activities were not encouraged (but not discouraged) at home.  So when I left high school, I didn’t really pursue anything creative, feeling that I didn’t have anything to offer.  Even though one of the first professions I wanted to pursue in college was as a Fashion Designer (emphasis on Sportswear) I gave it up for that same reason.   So, I did a little dabbling here, some sewing there, worked in a fabric store and became the Department Head for their Craft Department but it still didn’t turn the light bulb on.  I even went so far as to take an enormous amount of creative writing classes to the point where I graduated with honors with an AA in Language and Literature.  But it wasn’t until I wanted to find a piece of jewelry to match a particular outfit and I couldn’t, so I decided to make it myself that the flood gates opened.  I realize that was a very long answer, but I want people to know that creativity will always find a way, you just need to listen.  Me, I had to be hit over the head, a lot, until I heard what my heart was trying to tell me.

Creating makes me feel joy, whether it is with the camera, or on stage creating my character.  Once I listened to my heart and learned to make room in my very practical head, it was like fitting that last piece in the puzzle.  My life can be frustrating, depressing and a host of other not happy things, but when I let my creative side out, for that brief moment in time I am transported to a happier, more joyful place.

One thing that making jewelry has taught me.  Sometimes I would want a piece to look a certain way and it simply wouldn’t happen.  I would end up not liking the piece, to the point where I would wonder if I should even offer it for sale.  But I would and it would sell.  Just because I didn’t like it didn’t mean someone else would feel that way.  Sometimes, as the creator, we are too close to our work.  Just remember, there is something out there for everyone.  Believe in yourself and your work and let it go.

Writer of Light Photography


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4 thoughts on “Interview – Susan Chapman

  1. Pingback: issue 3 artists – fēlan

  2. Pingback: Interview – Susan Chapman | KnowledgeKnut

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