Hello all, I’m going to start a new thing on my blog- a mini review of various other photographers whose work I love! I hope you get as much inspiration out of their work as I do.
To get started, let me introduce you to Anna Morgan, AKA Bluetusk Images. I remember I first came across her work on Facebook, via a stunning flower filled forest scene.
When I first see an image that speaks to me, I will make an effort to go to that artist’s website. I find it much more like visiting a “real” gallery than what I would get from a generic facebook or instagram page. I enjoy finding a site like Anna’s- which is simple, to the point, and filled with exceptional imagery.
She has an eye for images with subtle color and an intimate feel that I really enjoy. She also has images from a very diverse selection of areas, spanning Africa, the PNW, Iceland, and the American Southwest- although you won’t find many iconic views. Indeed, a fair number of the images I couldn’t tell you the hemisphere, let alone the country they were taken in! There is also very little location info on the images. Some would think that a bad thing, I personally love that touch- it adds to the overall mystery and makes me feel like there is a still a world full of undiscovered places out there!
Anna was kind enough to do a brief Q+A with me via Email...
Thanks for doing this! Let me start by noting that its immediately apparent from your gallery that this isn’t some passing hobby for you. There are years of work and a lot of travel miles represented in these images! How did you start and what drives you to do this?
Thank you! I feel humbled that anybody would find my work inspiring. Art has always been a part of who I am. Art history classes opened my eyes to the influence of photography on contemporary painters, writers and philosophers of the day, and around the same time, I began experimenting with film photography. Studying to become a vet didn’t allow me much time for art so my camera gathered dust for a while. 8 years ago, fueled by a desire to see the Grand Canyon, my husband and I planned a road trip through the American Southwest where we discovered the overwhelming beauty of places like Zion and Escalante that I had never heard of before. That trip reignited my interest in photography in a big way and seemed like a natural way to bridge my interests in art, nature and science.
I see you also have a lot of unique views in your shots, do you intentionally avoid popular areas or are you more of a reactive photographer, for example not pre-planning your compositions and just finding what speaks to you in the field?
A combination of both. I am definitely a reactive photographer but often I find a scene where the composition works but the light or conditions aren’t quite right, so I wait and go back when I know they may be closer to how I visualized. Sometimes that may be later the same day but it could also be in a different season or another year. I went back several times over three consecutive years before I shot ‘Convergence’. I wanted peak wildflowers to coincide with the right amount of beech leaf cover to still allow the sun’s rays to come through. I had hoped for a little more ground fog that morning but I went home happy enough!
You also recently moved to British Columbia, what motivated that and how are you liking it?
As a family, we were looking for a better work-life balance where the life part allowed easy access to the great outdoors. London is so heavily populated that getting out from the city into wilderness is all but impossible on weekends. We identified places which offered us this in combination with the right work opportunities and settled on Vancouver. So far we are loving it and are very happy we chose British Columbia.
What the heck is Conservation Medicine and how will you be combining that with photography?
After 12 years working as a small animal vet, I wanted to move away from clinical work into conservation. Conservation Medicine examines connections between health in animals, people and ecosystems. Put simply, the health of all species is inherently associated with the health of the ecosystems in which they live. Damage to the environment caused, sadly, primarily by humans facilitates the emergence of new diseases or altered disease transmission. Lyme disease is an example most people will have heard of.
Photography can convey a powerful message when it comes to conservation. I will be using my Masters dissertation to look at the use photography as a visual narrative to convey the threats to our landscapes and species, and how these images are interpreted.
What was the most terrifying moment you have had in the field?
There have been a few hairy moments! In 2015 my husband and I decided we would start exploring the Spanish Pyrenees where my maternal family are from. It was early in the season - mid June - and quite warm, wildflowers were already carpeting many of the lower alpine areas but it had been a high snowfall year and the rivers were wild. It started raining heavily that afternoon so after setting up camp, we took refuge under a covered picnic area as we ate dinner. We climbed into our sleeping bags as the rain turned into a thunderstorm and I remember thinking we’d be safe from lightning as there was plenty of higher ground around us. We slept soundly until the early hours when firefighters were shaking our tent telling us to evacuate immediately; the rapid snowmelt and heavy rain combination were threatening to overload the rivers. We threw everything into the car and left immediately, crossing the only bridge into the valley, back to the safety of my parents’ house 2 hours away. When we got back and turned on the TV, the bridge and multiple riverside homes have been swept away by the rushing water, and caravans were floating in the valley we had just come from. Thankfully, nobody was hurt so it was a lucky escape and I am grateful for the actions of the firefighters that day.
What was the most ridiculous moment you have had in the field?
When I was first starting out, we did a trip to Iceland one summer. I really wanted to photograph puffins so I looked up all the areas where they nest. I couldn’t get a good view anywhere despite their numbers. One evening we found a small cliff where there were hundreds of them and I could see a spot where I could photograph them without disturbing them. Half way up I realised the cliff was far too steep to climb and getting down was a little scary. All I came away with were a few cut and bruises, and I never got a puffin shot on that trip that I was happy with. Now I can laugh about it but at the time I was pretty frustrated. My husband still refers to it as puffin rage!
Favorite place/best experience so far?
There are so many great experiences to choose from it’s hard to say. One night that stands out was during our only trip to Death Valley quite a few years ago now. We decided to head to mesquite dunes for sunset so we set off and didn’t see another soul the whole time. I started scouting for compositions that would work. There were some clouds in the sky but it didn’t look too exciting until the sun started setting. As I was busy looking one way, the clouds started turning pink behind me and then they got redder and brighter until the entire sky one huge fireball, and the colour was reflected in the sand. Initially I ran around like a blue-arsed fly trying to capture it but it was so vast and I was so excited I couldn’t concentrate or do it justice. In the end I turned the camera off and just watched in awe. Those kind of sunsets don’t come around very often. I haven’t seen one since that comes even close.
What is your absolute dream location and conditions to shoot in the future?
The younger me used to have a bucket list of places to visit but now I prefer to feel a connection to the landscape, so I would rather get to know the local area more intimately and photograph the conditions as they come. That said, B.C. is a pretty large place and has a lot to offer so I have plenty of exploring ahead of me.
There are some locations I would go back to in a heartbeat. Yellowstone is a photographers’ paradise with some incredible and unique landscapes, and I love the park for what it represents within the conservation movement. Going back in winter season is a dream I hope to fulfill one of these days.
I believe you also have a recent addition to the family, how has that changed your photography?
A baby changes everything including all the things you previously took for granted… like sleep! Time for photography is in short supply and to say it’s a logistical challenge juggling nap times, feeding etc while trying to find time to be in the field is an understatement. Every development stage brings its own challenges and my photography just has to adapt to those like everything else. Personally, the hardest part has been that, for the time being at least, I have had to let go of the idea of enjoying the silence and solitude that were an intrinsic part of my creative process. However, on many levels, this has meant that I am thinking more consciously about how the landscape speaks to me.
Any advice for those just starting out?
Enjoy the creative process and allow yourself to be driven by your own curiosity without focusing too much on the final result. Photography is a reflection of your own experiences and emotions so just go with it rather than trying to emulate the work of other photographers. I think the most important point is to remember that failure not only contributes to your learning but is absolutely essential to success, and applies equally to the technical and creative aspects of photography.
What/who are your inspirations?
For me, nature itself is the ultimate inspiration. It is a constant privilege to bear witness to everything the natural world has to offer and to feel a connection to the landscape. The work of conservationists such as John Muir, David Attenborough and Jane Goodall has inspired me since I was very young, to respect and care for our environment. Painters – whether it’s Rembrandt, Van Gogh or Georgia O’Keefe, I enjoy exploring how light and colour is interpreted on the canvas.
There are some incredible photographers around and the list of those that I admire or whose images or writing inspires me is probably too long. To name a few; Cristina Mittermeier, Frans Lanting, Charlotte Gibb, Guy Tal, Adam Gibbs, Sarah Marino, Alex Noriega and Bruce Percy. Above all, the individuality and personal creativity in their portfolios is clear and this is inspiring in itself.
To see more of Anna's work you can find her site here.