GGG Artist Interiew: Patti Larson

Introducing Patti Larson:

Adapted from an article created for GGG by Jordan Trama in a PSU Behrend course, Spring 2021

Patti Larson started photography in 2012 and used it as a creative outlet which quickly became a passion. “Embracing digital tools to combine the disciplines of photography, digital painting, and graphic design, her goal is to make an image more than just a photograph.”

More recently her artistic journey has led her to explore oil painting as a creative medium. Patti is a member of the Erie Photography Club, Presque Isle Artists Association and is currently President of the Photographic Arts Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (PASNWPA). Patti has won numerous awards locally and regionally, including the Dian Peyton-Majumdar Trophy for 1st place in the Digital Wildlife Division at the 2019 Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Club Expo as well as through the Independent Council for Aging. Her photographic work has been accepted into many juried exhibits locally and in New York and has also been featured in three solo exhibits. 

Patti’s work is featured in local galleries in the Erie area. More than 30 pieces of her artwork have been selected for display in the corporate offices of Erie Insurance, UPMC Hamot Hospital, Erie Federal Credit Union, Marquette Savings Bank, and U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Erie, Pennsylvania. She has given presentations to local and regional photography clubs and teaches photography as well as basic and advanced post-processing techniques. Most recently, Patti wrote an eBook on “Marketing Your Photography” for photographers interested in showcasing their work and had her photography featured in the book “Witch’s Fleet” by area authors Abigail Weech and John F. Corrigan.

Interview with Patti Larson: 

Q: How long have you been in photography?

A: “I started into photography in 2012 after retiring from a highly regulated field of healthcare and software development. It was such a pleasure to be creative and not have to adhere to health care regulations where every step is controlled and monitored. By the time I left that field, I was bursting with creativity!”

Q: What ignited your passion for photography?

A: “Photography started as a creative outlet in 2012, but quickly became a passion after taking a few photography classes through the Erie Art Museum. In this wonderful digital age, I have fully embraced digital tools, such as Photoshop, Lightroom and others, to combine the disciplines of photography, digital painting, and graphic design while creating photographic art. More recently I have explored oil painting as another creative medium to express my creativity!”

Q: Have you, as a photographer, been impacted by COVID-19? If so, how?

A: “Although I certainly missed the in-person comradery of meeting up with fellow photographers throughout the isolation of the pandemic, I was not personally impacted in a negative way from a photography perspective. Luckily, my family stayed healthy throughout the pandemic. With fewer distractions for meetings and other demands, it allowed me to turn inward and really focus on my creative work.”

Q: What is the one thing you strive to photograph the most, and why?

A: “The tagline for my logo is ‘Inspired by Art in Nature’ so I am definitely driven by the beauty in nature all around us, whether it is wildlife, flowers, or landscapes, both far and near. My goal as a photographer has always been to make an image more than just a photograph by using those digital tools available to photographers.”

Q: What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken? Why is it your favorite?

A: “That is a difficult question because every image captured has a memory associated with it, whether it is happy or sad, calm and peaceful or dramatic. However, the one that comes to (my) mind is an image taken while on a workshop in Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears (grizzly bears). A few of us were in a small boat on a river with a guide at the helm. We were floating along the river bank when a bear suddenly peeked out from behind some brush and looked right at us. With my heart pounding and the adrenaline flowing, I quickly took numerous photos of the encounter. I ended up with a great image that won a trophy for 1st Place in the Digital Wildlife Division in 2019 at the Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Club (NFRCC) Expo in 2019. Needless to say, I was thrilled at both the encounter as well as the award!”

Q: In what ways has photography impacted you?

A: “Photography has enabled me to see things differently. It has opened my eyes to seeing not just the subject in front of me, but what I could foresee in my mind as a creative end result. Additionally, the world of photography has become a community of friendly, like-minded people who enjoy the opportunity to capture the beauty of the world around them. It has also led me to join the Erie Photography Club as well as the Photographic Arts Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (PASNWPA). Being the president of the PASNWPA for the past few years has been an honor as we strive to educate the public on the art of photography.”

Q: How would you outline your creative process to someone?

A: “It would be difficult to describe my creative process because it is different with each image. Taking the photograph is only the first step in the process with composition and camera settings being of utmost importance. With a good image in front of me, I look critically at the image and decide whether the image will remain a realistic nature image, as required in many photography competitions, or if I would prefer adding more artistic touches. For the latter, I try to let my imagination run free and think of different creative possibilities for the final image. It may be a subtle painterly effect or a more graphic or abstract look or it may include layering multiple images together to make a composite. Whatever the end point, I just try to think of the story that the image is trying to tell.”

Q: Are there certain steps when photographing that you have to follow to get what you would consider the ‘perfect photograph’?

A: “The first step, of course, is the ability to identify a unique and really good composition. There are numerous “rules” for composition, although I prefer to call them guidelines. There should not be rules for the creative process, but they do help with making sure that your composition drives the viewer’s eye to focus on the main point of the image.  Obviously, technical issues like the appropriate camera settings are critical, but snapping the image in the camera is only the first step. After that, the editing process is where even more of the creativity comes in. There are so many tools available to make the images more colorful or black and white, painterly, abstract, etc.  The possibilities are endless!  That is my favorite part!”

Q: If you could say one thing to your past self to help you in the future (with photography) what would you say?

A: “Be less concerned about what others think about your photography and art and just create what looks right and feels right to you. After all, as Erich Fromm says, ‘Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.’“


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