Nathan: If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?
Sherry: I believe in telling stories through the photos I create, even the simplest of stories, in surreal or dreamy ways.
Nathan: Why do you prefer black and white photography?
Sherry: I think that when you eliminate color, you stimulate creativity, step away from realism and convey the mood of the photo better then you could with color. Also, I like to use a variety of tones to convey my emotions in my photographs.
Nathan: Describe your connection(s) to the subject matter(s) you photograph? For example, if you are drawn to landscapes, what about the landscape, or nature, draws you to photograph it?
Sherry: Most of my photography is of nature and animals. I think I have an unquiet soul, which is why in the scenes I photograph or create, I mostly look for peace and quiet, away from the crowds and the bustle of cities. I prefer open and minimal spaces for my work. I love clouds and always use them in my images, and of course, animals as well. It is unfortunate that so many of the wild animals I photograph live in captivity in sanctuaries or zoos; that is something that saddens me. That being said, I always have my camera with me and photograph whatever I find interesting to perhaps use at some point.
Nathan: Photography is many things … but one of its most important facets is the connection between what a photographer sees and how he or she chooses to capture it. This relationship typically changes over time— so much so, in fact, that many photographers feel it changes how they see. What are your thoughts about this?
Sherry: I agree! With the passage of time and with more experience, photography has changed the way I see, but I believe this fact is relevant to all the arts, whether music, painting, cinema, etc. I believe that all the other arts have also changed the way I see things or have changed the way I treat my subject-matters.
Nathan: Do you (a) previsualize what your photograph is going to look like, (b) discover what you wish to create as you create, or (c) engage a little of both?
Sherry: All of the above. Sometimes I pre-visualize what the photograph is going to look like but get new ideas as the work progresses. In cases like these, the end result follows the same concept but is completely different from what I had initially pre-visualized. Sometimes, the idea comes to me as I’m photographing, and I know what that frame is ultimately going to look like. And sometimes, as I’m looking through my photos, I find something interesting and start work. In general, I keep an open mind when working and try not to box myself in.
Nathan: When you process your photos, do you listen to music? If yes, what music do you prefer to listen to and do you think that music influences how you process your images?
Sherry: I do. I don’t work without music. I like a variety of genres but when working, I mostly listen to soundtracks of films, including animations, and of my favorite video games, even. And sometimes when a work is almost complete and I don’t need to be so focused, I listen to audiobooks.
There is no doubt that the music I listen to influences the mood of the images I create. I think that as in films, every photograph has its own soundtrack and even though that soundtrack cannot be heard, it can be seen, and it adds highs and lows and suspense to the image.
Nathan: Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Sherry: First, it’s Jerry Uelsmann. During my first year at university, I was given an assignment to write an essay about Jerry Uelsmann. From the very first time I saw his work, his surreal scenes and photomontage techniques captivated and inspired me. Until then, I had never thought it would be possible to create such images with photographs in a darkroom. I was greatly inspired but it was impossible for me to even attempt such techniques with the limited hours we had to use the school darkroom or in my small darkroom at home, which I had converted from a bathroom. But I always wanted to start doing photomontage, and I eventually did, years later.
And second, it is Ivana Stojakovic. I like everything about her work: concept, atmosphere and the great techniques you see in all her works. I’m always excited to see what she is going to do next.
I have “met” many amazing photographers on various social sites and much of their work also inspires me. Marcin Sacha, Michal Karcz, Leszek Bujnowski, Dariusz Klimczak, Nathan Wirth, Pierre Pellegrini, Michael Kenna, Hengki Koentjoro, and many more I wish I could mention them all but it will be a long list.
Nathan: Select a single photograph by another artist that inspires you. Explain why you are drawn to it and how it has inspired you.
Sherry: As I said, I’ve been greatly influenced by Jerry Uelsmann. This photograph (Untitled 1969) was the first one I saw created by him and it made me fall in love with his style of photography. I can’t fully articulate why that happened; it is emotional and happens unconsciously. His work is unique, the surreal mood of his subjects, the tonality, everything. And I find it extremely impressive that all his work is done in the darkroom.
Nathan: What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?
Sherry: I love fantasy books, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Joe Abercrombie, Robin Hobb, Terry Pratchett, David Eddings and many others. Often times I like to recreate, in my own way, the environments I read about in those books. I think working in animation industry has also played a big part as well. I was always fascinated by the works created by matte painters and conceptual and environment artists in animation and cinema. And I think I unconsciously brought that into my photography.
And I very much like video games and try to make time to play every day. Besides fun, I find video games to be a great source of inspiration. The artistic quality and creativity you find in some is unbelievable.
Nathan: What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?
Sherry: Until very recently, I had one body and a couple of not-so-great lenses. But I just bought a new body and lens. Generally speaking, though, I don’t like to overly concern myself with gear when I’m shooting; I’d rather work with gear I’m comfortable with but needless to say, since a great deal of my work is done in the post-processing stage, good hardware is important.
Nathan: How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?
Sherry: I would call a photograph fine art when it reflects or gives you some indication of the mentality, emotions and soul of the photographer.
Nathan: If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?
Sherry: I would say patience, because I am still learning and would like to improve my work. I know I have a long way ahead of me, which requires persistence and practice. So there are no shortcuts.
Nathan: What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?
Sherry: It is the most convenient and least costly means of presenting your work. Social media has allowed me to “virtually meet” many of the photographers whose works I like. Each of these image sharing sites has its own advantages and I have accounts in some of them (1x, 500px, Art Limited). They have each allowed me to see and draw inspiration from a great deal of images.
Nathan: What are our thoughts about photography contests? Do you think they are (a) a true measure of artistic success or value, (b) just an opportunity for a business to make money off photographers looking for exposure and validation, or (c) something in-between a and b?
Sherry: I have mixed feelings about this. I have not entered many contests, mostly because I was not able to pay the entry fees from my country and would have to get friends or family who live abroad to do that for me, which would be inconvenient. But contests have their upsides and downsides. The upside is the satisfaction they could bring. When your work is appreciated, it energizes and motivates you. But I don’t think that when you win a contest, it necessarily means you’re better than the rest. If I like a photographer’s work, I don’t check to see how many prizes he/she has won. I think if a work is good, it validates itself; it would not need to win a title in a contest.
Nathan: What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most (e.g. did you use Photoshop or is it straight out of the camera)?
Sherry: The questions are not as irritating as the reactions I get from some people when they realize my work is photomontage and say, so it’s not a photograph. With that one statement, they devalue all the time and thought and effort I have put into creating that work.
Nathan: If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?
Sherry: I would take my Canon EOS6D + 24-105mm L
A polarized filter, a sturdy tripod with a ball head, and I would rather take an E-book reader and an IPod instead of only two books and ten CDs but since that’s not an option, for music I would take:
1. Amadeus (Music from the 1999 Stage Play) Academy of St. Martin in the Fields & Sir Neville Marriner
2. Jeremy Soule: The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Original Soundtrack
3. Max Richter: Out of the Dark Room
4: Olafur Arnalds: Living Room Songs
5. Piano Works by Philip Glass and Víkingur Ólafsson
6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Wojciech Kilar
7. The Mission: Music from the Motion Picture by Ennio Morricone
8. Depeche Mode: Songs of Faith and Devotion
9. Depeche Mode: Violator
10. 50 Best – Rachmaninoff
And because the books I love are more than one volume, like The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, I like to trade the two books with a couple of sketchbooks and pen to begin my journal and write down my adventures and even draw the things I find interesting on that Island.
Nathan: Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Sherry: I’m not that keen on setting goals for myself because it would make me anxious. I would like to keep doing what I’m doing, get better at it, and be able to make more time for it.
Nathan: Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
Sherry: I’ve always been intrigued by Egypt. I find the remains and artifacts of Ancient Egypt fascinating and mysterious. And I’m very much interested in Egyptian mythology. I wish I had a time machine to go back to the time when that civilization was at its peak and take some pictures! And I would love to visit Iceland and The Faroe Islands just because of the wonderful nature.
Nathan: Is there anything else you wish to add?
Sherry: I wish to express my appreciation for considering me for this interview and putting forward some tough questions to answer.
A Spotlight on a Few Images