A Pleasant Surprise
Photo Communiqué featured artist with Liz Outhwaite and her 52 Postcards Project
I was 8 years old when I received a letter in the mail from my Aunt Minnie. It was on pretty stationary, 2 pages long and had a unique stamp on the envelope. She told me how she was and asked about my life. I still have it and it makes me smile when I come across it. I feel the tactile nature of the paper, I see the personality in her handwriting from the pen and I feel good … just the reaction she dearly intended.
For a little over a decade we are living in a world of email and social media, a convenience beyond compare in busy lives. Keys tapping away, pressing the send or post button has given Mr. Postman much less to deliver. It most exist for flyers, junk mail, magazines and bills. If you were born after 1980 you grew up to find social media and eventually devices to connect you. It has become a lost art to send something in the mail for that one person you want to reach out to. A piece of paper with your signature as a token of taking the time to show you care, sealed with a kiss.
Liz Outhwaite is keeping the tradition alive and well. As a photographer she seeks beautiful images and creates postcards. She prints them, hand addresses with a note and a stamp and sends through the postal mail. Here is Liz’s story. I hope she inspires you to surprise someone you love or admire in sharing your gift in a more personal way. -Lori Patrick
Let’s start with your name and where you reside or work
Liz Outhwaite. I live on the south coast of England, in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex
Your line of work pertaining to the photographic community
I’m currently not working, having just been made redundant after 27 years with the same nature conservation charity (not-for-profit organisation)! I’m spending some time to think about my future career options and photography may be something I pursue. At the moment I’m enjoying being able to devote time to my passion, plus getting my much neglected website updated!
Tell us about your project of what inspired Lori to reach out for a feature with you
This year, 2014, I decided I wanted to liberate images from my hard drive and share them in a tangible way, rather than just post them on the web. Having completed a 365 photo a day project in 2008, I wanted something that involved a regular commitment, but was not as demanding as a photo a day. I had been inspired by some photo friends who were printing 6×4 postcards and sharing them with fellow photographers. From this, my project 52 postcards was born. The aim is simple, to create, print and send (via the post/mail) a postcard a week for a year. For me, it’s important that the image is newly created and not taken from my hard drive archives. This means I have to remain creative and continue to develop my craft and style.
After the image has been received by the recipient, I do post it online (via my blog, Flickr, Facebook etc). I want the recipient to be the first person to see the card after me rather than post it immediately. Another important element of the project is to share the work of those I’ve sent the postcards to and I link to their work in my blog posts. I’m now in week 24 of the project and I’m really delighted with the feedback I’ve had.
I’m nearly half way through the project and still really enjoying it. It’s brought me into contact with many new and talented photographers and artists. I’ve also developed my photography, post-processing and printing skills.
What type of photography do you enjoy for fun or personal fulfillment?
What do you specialize in for business?
I was asked to describe my photography just the other day and I found it really difficult! I like capturing details in the landscape (both rural and urban) rather than large sweeping landscapes. This genre is sometimes called intimate landscape. I tend to react to what’s around me and will take my camera for a walk with an open mind and generally with no set agenda for what I’m going to take. Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with different techniques, in particular tilting and panning to create blurred, impressionistic images. I’ve also tried dusted down my old film camera and hope to make at least one image from film for this project. Technical issues have so far thwarted me (ie the film being eaten by the camera!). People do feature in some of my images, but generally not.
As far as any business goes, I’m still working on this! I’ve recently taken a couple of workshops on dog photography, which were totally outside my comfort zone and experience, but which I thoroughly enjoyed. So who knows. . .
Any favorite equipment choices for your work?
I have two favorite lenses, my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 105mm f/2.8, that work well on my Nikon D800. Following carrying a pack of very heavy camera equipment around Bhutan a couple of years ago, I’ve recently bought an Olympus OMD-E-M5. I found that I wasn’t/couldn’t always have a camera with me, but the Olympus means that I can.
What editing programs are your go to?
Who do you follow as an inspiration or education source?
Education – CreativeLIVE. I’ve been with them from almost the beginning and have more courses than I’d care to admit to! I’ve learnt so much, from photography skills, to post-processing and business. I can safely say that my photography wouldn’t have developed as it has without the amazing team at CreativeLIVE. Now that I’m having to reassess my career, these courses are even more important to me. I’ve even bought courses outside my genre and interests, such as Sue Bryce and Lara Jade’s recent Experimental Portraits. Although I don’t intend going down the portrait route, you can always find inspiration from other genres.
Inspiration: I’m going to start with Brooke Shaden. I love her approach to both photography and life and making your dreams come true.
I could spend hours (and do) looking through photo books. Here is a selection of my favourites:
- Steve McCurry – http://stevemccurry.com
- Michael Kenna – www.michaelkenna.net
- Martin Parr – http://www.martinparr.com
- Pentti Sammallahti – here far away –http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/penttisammallahti
- Henri Cartier-Bresson – http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VFor m&ERID=24KL53ZMYN
- Robert Weingarten – 6:30 am – http://robertweingarten.com/am_series.html
- David Hockney – http://www.hockneypictures.com
- Colin Miller – a member of my camera club (Brighton and Hove) who enjoysbreaking the rules! – http://colinmillerphotography.co.uk
- Ibarionex Perello hosts the best photography podcast, The Candid Frame –http://ibarionex.net/thecandidframe/
Where can we find more of your work or follow you Liz?
Blog: In the Making http://chalkhillscollective.wordpress.com/blog/
Liz will be sending me a postcard soon from the UK. When received I will share it here as an update.Thank you Liz for teaching us the art of old fashion communiqué within this interview. 52 Postcards.