I’m excited to share an interview with a very passionate landscape and nature photographer from Trenton, Maine near Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Her name is Susan Garver and she finds inspiration for her work with her love for the majestic landscape and coast of Maine, as well as other picturesque areas she has traveled to. Susan’s body of work is quite expansive and her passion and drive for photography speaks for itself.
Susan, it was wonderful getting to know you and thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Your work is inspirational and I hope to see more great things from you in the future!
Where is home?
I live in Trenton, Maine. It is a small town near Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
My husband actually bought me my first film camera many years ago so I could take photos of our children and pets. He later bought me my first digital camera and it was at this time that he encouraged me to do landscapes. I was instantly hooked!
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
I was an elementary teacher for many years and loved it. About 12 years ago I lost my job due to lack of student enrollment and it was at this time that I really focused on photography as a profession.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I am basically a landscape photographer so I really enjoy portrait sessions when I have the opportunity. I am a people person and I love getting my clients to relax in front of the camera and capture their personalities in the finished images.
What is the easiest part of your job?
Finding places to photograph is easy. I am lucky to live in an area where there are mountains, the ocean, and woodlands. Lots of inspiration in nature.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Getting up early in the morning to catch the good light. In the summer that means getting up at 3 am!
Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect of a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
I always check the weather before heading out or planning a shoot. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have learned to be flexible which works if you are not traveling far for the shoot and can always go another day.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
I enjoy seeing how I will approach the shot based on the light and weather conditions at the time.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I am inspired by all the amazing photographers whose work I follow on social media. My goal is to be as good someday.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I am a self-taught photographer. I have read many books over the past 30 years. More recently I followed many blogs by photographers willing to share their expertise.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
I love Instagram because there are so many amazingly talented people in the world and this is a great way to connect with them and stay current with new trends in the industry.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
My favorite image was one that I took at Bass Harbor Lighthouse. This is a challenging landscape to photograph but this day I scrambled over the rocks just as an amazing cloud came bringing snow. I captured the lighthouse right before it snowed and I love the look created by those storm clouds. Nature is truly amazing!
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I want my images to make the viewer feel like they are standing right there with me. I hope it makes them realize there is so much beauty in the world if you just get outside. Inspiring people to get outside in nature is something I hope happens after viewing my images no matter where they live.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I am a Nikon girl. I love my D810 and my Nikon 24-70mm lens combo. I have had Canon and Sony cameras and for the type of image I want to achieve Nikon is perfect for me!
What is in your camera bag?
I have a wide angle lens, 85mm lens, 50 mm lens, and 70-300mm lens ND filters, tripod, extra batteries, and cards.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
The app called the Photographer’s Ephemeris. It has a lot of info such as sunrise/sunset times and shows on a map where the sun rises and sets. Very helpful info when shooting in new locations.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I am looking at the new Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera to add to my bag.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I shoot in Raw format so I use Lightroom and Photoshop for some slight editing. I try to achieve the look in camera to save time processing.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo shoots? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
The first time I used a digital camera to shoot with was really a memorable experience. I was so excited to see the images immediately versus waiting for film to be developed. I knew that I was hooked on digital and my film camera was put away for quite a while. I have recently started using my film camera again just for the looks you can achieve with it.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I have never had an unpleasant experience because whenever I am out shooting I am happy. I have had shoots where I have not gotten the image exactly the way I want it and I am disappointed but it just makes me a better photographer as I learn from my mistakes.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Most definitely and I plan on learning all the time!