Capturing the subject

I write this as we are about to see the first ever close up photographs of that distant tiny outermost planet of our solar system, Pluto. Excitement can’t describe what both scientists and lay people alike feel at being able to view something so far away, so undocumented, so unknown, until the eye of that robotic camera was turned upon it.

We live in a visual world. Today it’s all about the image whether on a tablet, an iPhone, or a photograph. Media bombards us and saturates us with images, shaping how we view our world. We all have become photographers, easily snapping thousands of everyday images thanks to the high quality lenses that come with our smart phones and tablets. The technology has revolutionized taking pictures just like, but going beyond, what the box camera/Brownie did for a previous generation.

So how does a photographer manage to “capture” a subject in a new and fresh way?

Many books have been written on the topic of what makes a great photograph and techniques to use to achieve that goal. However, the best photographs, the ones that draw the viewer in and evoke an emotional response, always begin with the person behind the lens. It’s not the camera, or the technology, or all the digital darkroom techniques, but the soul of the creator melding with the subject matter that produces the most spectacular results.


As we can see in our current exhibit’s artist Sharon Curia’s photographs, she doesn’t do any Photoshop manipulation. Just uses her camera and lenses and her eye for good composition to produce outstanding photographs. Her subjects vibrate with color and texture. Some photographs, like her lion, look as if she posed the subject! Others, like her bridge over a stream, have an outstanding depth of field and color combinations. She is expert at capturing the heart of her subject matter.

Here are quotes from three other photographers on their approach to subject matter:

“As an artist I try to communicate, with camera that which I can only hint at with words: my love for the visual experience. I endeavor to capture moments from my own experience that have been more substance than shadow; instants timeless and random, where routine existence seems to give way to a heightened sensibility.” – George Garbeck (

“In a world saturated with visual images, I make certain that my photographs and montages are unique, original and have genuine interest to me. As I look to my environment, I carefully choose subject matter that begs to be photographed, whether serious, mundane, romantic or whimsical. I have become increasingly aware of my surroundings, looking to discover images from everyday and unexpected sources.” Charlann Meluso (

“Today, digital photographers have so many options for capturing and manipulating their images…The final image should not be judged by how closely it echoes reality but how well it communicates the message.” – Caryn Seifer (

(The above quotes are excerpted from the artists’ statements presented with their works in Gallery U Boutique’s July Photographia exhibit in Westfield NJ.

Photographs preserve memories. They evoke emotions. They reveal the soul of the picture taker and the object captured. They are ubiquitous in our lives and yet singular and precious. So go pick up your camera, tablet, or smart phone and shoot away. You might never exhibit them, or even post them to social media. But you will have captured a bit of life, unique to you as a human being living upon the third planet of this solar system.

Meet the Artists – Heidi Sussman

Time has always been my obsession. I think about its infinite passage, how seconds grow into minutes, that become days, that add up to years that flas by in an instant. Albert Einstein said “time is an illusion”, leaving me to ponder whether or not it’s real or does it only exist in my imagination. Is it possible to determine that invisible line that exists in the nano-second between the past and the present? The essence of time is a concept I have addressed sins I first picked up a camera, often reworking images I’ve taken in the past while utilizing new processing techniques.

Taking photographs becomes my only way to capture a moment in time, where the present instantly becomes the past. Memory and mood allows the viewer to peek into a world where it’s impossible to determine if my work was created today or years ago. There is an ambiguity that leaves traces of reality or illusion, and in the pieces I have included in this show I try to evoke feelings of memory.

I use various papers and toning processes and the observer is never sure if the subjects exist in the past or present. In addition to my photography, I create photo-based mixed media pieces, combining various traditional and digital art media with my images. I print my images on an inkjet printer on natural fine art papers instead of traditional inkjet paper, and digitally tone them. Some are hand colored with art media like pastel and pencil, others are painted in the computer using digital brushes and paint. Additional media may be added including wax to create photo encaustics for a softer, more ethereal effect.

Ironically, I use current technological devices like my iPhone to create images reminiscent of vintage photos to look like they were created a hundred years ago. I like to have the viewer wonder where technology begins or ends.

Heidi -Sussman-Dream Wagon

Heidi -Sussman-Dream Wagon