Hey, Embers fans! Emberites? Igniters? Sparkys? I digress. Madeleine here. I’m pleased to announce that we’re now going to be interviewing writers and artists who inspire us. One of the best parts about living in a community of creators is the discussion that takes place–people sharing their influences, struggles, and triumphs. When we learn about each other, we learn about the craft while also supporting one another in our pursuit of perfection.
Our first interview is with photographer Chelsea Warren. Chelsea’s photos have appeared in both the 2015 volume and newly released 2016 volume of Embers Igniting. Her photos often feature architecture, which seems to come alive and emote rather than being just concrete and steel. I was excited to get to pick her brain.
How long have you been into photography, and what first interested you about it as an art form?
I have probably been interested in photography since the beginning of college. I did this photo a day challenge for a year and that jump started my interest in capturing significant moments. I really enjoy looking back at photos and remembering the time I took them.
What subject matter inspires you most? Your work in the last two volumes of Embers has had either nature or architecture as the subject matter—does one inspire you more than the other?
I lean more toward architecture because buildings/structures tend to define themselves by their textures, patterns, angles, etc. It is neat to see how someone’s idea for a building can come to completion and be seen by everyone. But nature is just so serene, yet powerful. I like both.
Your piece Choosing Sides, which was the cover of our 2015 volume, really told a story. How do you find such amazing locations to photograph? Do you spend lots of time exploring?
I try to explore a lot when I can. Cities tend to be a little more accessible for me and I enjoy walking more to places than driving. You tend to see more things along the way.
Did you study photography at all? And do you think anyone can learn to be a good photographer, or does it require certain instincts that can’t be taught?
No, I didn’t study photography. I think anyone can be decent if they are wiling to learn and are willing to take the time. I also believe that having some natural instinct is helpful though, particularly when trying to capture a certain emotion or feeling in a photo.
Are there tricks to taking a great photo? And how do you know a great photo when you see it?
Not really a trick, but often great photos take some courage and humility. I often feel sort of dumb taking pictures when no one else is or being that “tourist” that crouches at weird angles just to get a good shot. Good photos come with some work, but if you see something and like it, I say take the photo!
What kind of camera do you use most often?
I actually use my phone camera a lot…haha. But I do own an old Canon DSL that works well.
If you could take photos of anything, anywhere, anytime throughout history, what would it be?
Hmmm…I wouldn’t mind taking photos of great expeditions–stories from the Bible, cities being built and inhabited, people achieving great, physical challenges…I understand that my answer is broad, but I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one time or place. So much has happened and is happening in this world that needs to be documented and remembered.
Do you have any creative outlets outside of photography? If so, how do they influence one another?
I like drawing or painting on occasion. I don’t know if it influences my photography though.
When you’re not taking awesome pictures, what can you be found doing?
Probably playing with my daughter Cecily at the park or running.
You’re also a mom and pastor’s wife, and you have a part-time job—enough to keep anyone quite busy. Free time must be hard to come by. Do you find it difficult to fit creativity into every day? If not, what’s your secret?
Yeah, it is a little difficult to find the time. I try to fit in throughout the day, kind of spontaneously. If I want to go somewhere specific, I usually wait until the weekend when I have more help with Cecily.
I’ve found that becoming a mom opened my eyes to new sources of inspiration—motherhood, my amazing son, and seeing the world through his eyes. Do you find you now have a well of inspiration from your daughter?
Yeah, she gets so fascinated by the smallest things and that is inspiring to me since I can often overlook the little, mundane parts of life. Capturing pictures of day to day activities can be so memorable because eventually schedules change and that activity is no longer the norm. You really get a new sense of time when you have a kid and I have come to value that time a lot more.
Do you have any awkward photography stories? Perhaps an unwitting subject who then realized you were taking a shot of them? Any cameras dropped into the ocean? Etc.
Not really. I am sure those will come soon.
What advice would you give new photographers—those who love the art form and have dabbled in it a bit, but don’t know how to take that next step toward taking it more seriously?
I would tell them that there is no need to rush and try to take fantastic pictures right away. It takes time and practice. But also, keep taking pictures of what you enjoy, not what you think you should be taking pictures of. Never compare your photos to other people’s photos.
To keep up with Chelsea’s work, follow her on Instagram–chelswarren67.
Know someone we should interview? Send us an email with the details.