Joye Ardyn Durham is the owner of the Gingko Tree Gallery in Black Mountain, North Carolina and is the lead photographer for Plough to Pantry quarterly magazine in nearby Asheville. Joye is widely known as a nature-art photographer as well as for specializing in dog and people portraits. Her work can be found at www.artistwithcamera.com and www.ploughtopantry.com.
What sparked your interest in photography initially?
I grew up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky in the United States. The nature that surrounded me became an inspiration as well as the influence of my Dad. My Dad would take photographs for postcards in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia which allowed me to shoot my first post card at the age of nine. I remember being excited about my first post card (with my name printed on the back) and taking it to school to show my friends. I continue to be inspired every day by those around me, the nature around me, and some wonderful photographers I have learned about online. Inspiration also comes from using different equipment such as Lensbaby lenses. I've had the privilege of being a tester of some of their lenses and it always makes me feel more creative whenever I pull a Lensbaby out of my bag.
What made you realize that you wanted to pursue photography as more than just a hobby?
In every job I've had since high school, photography has been part of it. It may not have been in the job description but I always found a way to incorporate photography into the mix. I finally realized that photography was so much a part of who I am and I needed to give it the attention it deserved.
Tell us about your experience transitioning from amateur to professional photographer - what were the biggest hurdles and misconceptions?
I began my photographic journey at a very young age therefore I think it evolved because I have consistently taken photographs for over 50 years. When I opened my gallery in 1994 here in Black Mountain, North Carolina, I was able to really concentrate on my craft. More recently, I think the internet really has catapulted the awareness of talented photographers which has become a great tool in sharing images. I think the biggest hurdle was having to learn some marketing and I am still learning!! That has been the most difficult part. I LOVE taking pictures and creating unforgettable images but having to do the detail of getting that image out there was and still is a challenging part of the business.
In your growth as a photographer, what has been the hardest thing (concept, piece of equipment, mindset, etc.) to learn that also provided the greatest reward once you learned it?
Oh wow what a great question and the answer is undoubtedly, the switch from film to digital. I am not a computer geek nor am I very technical, so the thought of using a memory card to record my images was not something I could wrap my head around. I was VERY intimidated by a computer as well as Photoshop. Whenever I had to edit a photo, I would have one of my employees sit at the computer as I stood over his shoulder saying could you darken there and lighten thereridiculous. Im sure he was happy when I finally took the plunge and got a Mac computer and started doing my own editing. I stepped into the digital age while kicking and screaming, like a child not wanting to go to school for the first time, but after a while it became second nature to me and the rewards have been endless. I am so glad that "first day of school ended up being full of recess!
What advice do you wish you had when you first started out? What advice would you give someone just starting their photographic journey today?
Learn MARKETING! It is wonderful to be able to create images but there are many photographers out there and having some marketing skills can create success over others in the same field. Another thing Id say is to continue to learn and try new things. No matter how much you know you can never know it all and there is always a new technique or skill to help keep that photo spark alive.
Share a moment when you broke the rules of photography and created something spectacular
I love abstract and intentional blur photography. I think thats why Lensbaby and I play well together. For years my friends have teased me about shooting photography that doesnt fit within the focus guidelines of normal photography. But for me focus is way over rated. We were always taught to keep the camera still and use a tripod. Well, I do use a tripod for most images but not all the time. Each Autumn I have what I call drive by shootings where I roll down the window in the car, choose a slower shutter speed and shoot away. The colors of the trees are blurred and you never know what you are going to get until you get home and process. Its so much fun and you can really create some fantastic images.
How were you introduced to Lensbaby? How have you used Lensbaby to help shape who you are as a photographer today?
I have been involved with Lensbaby for several years. I remember spending hours online at the Lensbaby website before Facebook was so popularyes there was a time before Facebookwhen I would go into the forum and lose myself in all the creativity by fellow Lensbaby photographers. The forum was all about Lensbaby and the images there were incredible. I ended up getting my first Lensbaby in 2008 and I have been hooked ever since. I would post some of my dog photos on the forum which led to Lensbaby contacting me about my photography. Creativity is at the heart of every Lensbabythats what makes each one special. My favorites are the Fisheye and the Velvet 56. One thing I love about those two lenses is the fact you can focus in close and can come away with awesome shots. I am working with "Plough to Pantry magazine as lead photographer here in Asheville, NC and I am using Lensbaby on a lot of the food shots and close up images. The softness of the Velvet is unmatched and Im looking forward to a Velvet 92 and/or a Velvet 18. I dont know if they are in the works or not but a girl can dream, right? Right Keri? Thank you.