I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a very engaging and talented photographer from Colorado Springs, Colorado (for the time being). Her name is Amy Sorvillo and she seeks to share the many aspects of our beautiful world. Through her adventures, Amy has the ability to capture the essence of a diverse array of subjects. Amy has an appreciation for each moment, savors it, and successfully conveys this to her viewers with her love of photography.
Thank you, Amy and it’s my pleasure to share your insight and experiences with our readers. You are a remarkable photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following. I hope to see more great things from you in the future!
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am a wife, mother, friend, and animal lover. I’m a jack of all trades and enjoy spending my free time traveling to new locations or spending time hiking or kayaking. I also really enjoy helping others and I do quite a lot of volunteer work. I’m an adventurer and a bit of a nomad; during my childhood, my family moved around a lot, and as an adult, I’ve been married to an active duty military man for 24 years. I tend to get itchy feet if I’m in one place too long.
Where do you call home?
I currently live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but as the saying goes, home is where the Air Force sends you and we’ll likely be on the move again in the next year or so.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
I took my first photography course in high school, back in the days of film. I loved every step of the process it took to create an image, from setting up the shot, to seeing the image come to life in the darkroom. I found it to be such an interesting and magical experience! After graduating high school, photography went on the back burner while I focused on education, family, work, and volunteerism. Twenty years after my initial photography course, I purchased my first DSLR camera – I’ve been hooked ever since!
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
A little bit of both. I’ve learned so much over the years through some serious, often frustrating, trial and error (and through many Google searches!). However, I also take courses when I have the opportunity. I was quite fortunate to be selected for a college grant where I earned a certification in digital photography. I’ve also taken numerous adult education courses and workshops throughout the years. In my opinion, there is always more to learn, I find that every photographer who knows his or her way around a camera brings something unique to the table. Even when the basic principles are the same, new instructors have different insights. It could be completely different shooting styles or awesome tips or practices they have picked up.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
My love of nature and the world around me. I enjoy being able to save a moment in time, whether it be a flower in bloom, an interesting place, a summer storm or a loved one, and have these images elicit thoughts and feelings from the viewer. I’m definitely a ‘stop and smell the roses’ kind of gal. I savor my surroundings, and through photography, I’m able to capture and share a little slice of the world as I see it.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
There are so many things I enjoy about photography but my absolute favorite aspect is spending time outdoors. I love the beauty of the natural world which is the predominant theme throughout most of my photography. Even on days when the weather is less than ideal, I’ll be out chasing storm clouds or trudging through knee-high snow to shoot a fascinating sky or capture the land under a blanket of fresh snow.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
I shoot in manual mode so there are times when I miss a shot because I’m not quick enough to change my settings. For instance, last winter I was shooting a bright landscape when I noticed a gorgeous buck with huge antlers in the darker forest off to my left. By the time I adjusted my camera for the new scene, the deer had taken off. I’m still disappointed that I missed that shot! On a personal level, trying not to compare myself and my work to others can sometimes be a challenge. On one hand, it’s positive to admire and be motivated by certain photographers or photographs, but there have been times when I’ve become discouraged from dwelling in the comparison funk. In photography, as with life, it’s highly likely that someone will be more knowledgeable, more skilled, or have better stuff than you. Instead of allowing negative thoughts devalue my worth, I try to stay positive and focus on self-improvement and doing my best with the tools I have.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
My most challenging subjects are people. While I adore catching folks in candid moments; staging and posing people is not my forte. I think it’s because I’m completely awkward when I’m in front of the camera, so in turn, I feel strange directing others. However, with every family photo shoot and event I photograph, I’m gaining more confidence, although it’s certainly an aspect of photography that I’d like to continue to improve upon!
What type of photography shoots do you look forward to?
I imagine it’s cliché, but I absolutely love setting my tripod and equipment up to capture sunrises and sunsets. I love how, while the landscape may stay the same from day to day, the skies change dramatically depending on the cloud coverage. Waking up before dawn and watching the sunrise in a beautiful location is truly a fabulous way to begin the day!
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
To keep things fresh I begin with an open mind and observe the space around me with an artistic eye. There are times when I mix it up and seek out places or objects that are different from my typical nature and landscape scenes. Sometimes I choose locations that at first glance wouldn’t seem to have any artistic value but then I find a neat angle that makes for an interesting shot or I’ll see a dilapidated object with a cool patina and it turns into a unique and unusual image.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
This was such a perfect and surreal moment! I love how the clouds appear to be moving across the sky as the sunlight beams down to brighten the ancient city of Machu Picchu. I was thrilled to capture this amazing scene.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Read the owner’s manual for your camera and work towards weaning yourself off the basic automatic camera modes as soon as you can – it will make a world of difference!
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I have a Canon 60D and my favorite lens is whatever I happen to have with me. My typical go-to is my “kick-about” 18-200mm lens. I often have only a slight idea of what I’ll find when shooting out in nature, sometimes it’s landscapes and others it plant or animal life. Fortunately, this lens is light enough to carry mounted on my camera while allowing me the flexibility of a decent length of focus. I really love my 70-300mm lens but it’s not always practical to carry when I’m hiking out in the mountains for hours.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
This might be a strange answer but It’s actually my camera strap. I have a cross-body strap that attaches to the camera body with a swivel hook. This hook slides on the strap allowing only the camera to move ( not the strap) when lifting up to your eye. I wear my camera for hours at a time when I’m out and about, and this strap is so much more comfortable and convenient than the standard strap.
Do you plan on purchasing any new equipment and if so, what are you on the lookout for?
Well, I don’t have any purchasing plans, however, my birthday is coming up and my husband keeps dropping hints that I might be seeing some new gear in the near future!
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I shoot in the RAW format, therefore photo editing software is a must. I use Photoshop and Lightroom when editing my images.
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?
I’d have to say that my most memorable shooting experience occurred when I was hiking and camping through the mountains of Peru. The rugged beauty of the desolate landscape as well as the high altitude was breathtaking. Every mile trekked brought something new and wonderful into view. Some of the highlights were: Llamas grazing freely up and down the mountainsides. Rounding a corner or coming over a peak to discover a pristine lake nestled into a high valley and my favorite was greeting people as they emerged from their small, stone homesteads, far from any road or modern convenience.. It was an incredible journey and I was in absolute awe of not only the scenery around me but the people I met along the way who eked out a living in the beautiful yet harsh Andes mountains. Looking back, I’m so glad that I had my trusty camera to capture so much of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
A number of years ago a friend asked if I could shoot an important military ceremony. The event took place in another state and I arrived with no time to scout out the location beforehand. The indoor lighting turned out to be a nightmare. I was inexperienced in shooting this type of venue and didn’t pack much in the way of external lighting. Talk about nervous! I was sick to my stomach thinking that the images were going to be terrible, either they would be extremely grainy due to the high ISO or they’d be blurry because of a slow shutter speed. Fortunately, things didn’t go as badly as I presumed and my friend was pleased with the final photographs. To this day I get a little pit in my stomach thinking of how over my head I felt during this event.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Absolutely! I’ve had many different artistic interests throughout the years such as drawing and painting, needlework, and stained glass, just to name a few. However, no other interest or hobby has taken my heart like photography! As long as I can maneuver a camera, I expect photography will be part of my life.