Escaping Stress Whilst Evoking Emotion

Happy Trails

Mcgregors Bay
Canon 5D MKIV, 24-70mm lens @ F11, 1/125s, ISO200, 27mm

interview with Shelly Linehan

Shelly, can you tell us a bit about you and your life?

I was brought up on a dairy farm just out of Dargaville on the west coast of the North Island. This was where I learnt the love of animals and discovered my love for the beach. I worked various jobs until I was 23, and then I started my Vet Nurse Career.

Today I live on the beautiful Whangarei Heads on the east coast with my husband and my 3-legged rescue cat Stevie. I’m very lucky to live so close to the coast, within a 15-minute drive. I spend a lot of my spare time at the beach; it’s so relaxing just to get out and take a walk.

When did your photography journey begin, and where has it led you to today?

My photography journey began when I was 16 years old, long before digital came along! I enjoyed getting out and photographing anything that interested me, including nature, landscapes, and people. When I started my Vet Nurse career, I put my camera down, and it wasn’t until many years (once I had more spare time after my studies had finished) that I picked up a camera and started taking images again.

When I began to get back into photography, I learned that film cameras were out, and digital cameras were the new thing. This was all new to me, the basic camera fundamentals were the same, but now you had to develop your images via computer software at home instead of taking your film into a photo lab and waiting to get your photos back. Joining my local camera club helped me to learn these new digital skills and meet new people.

I still work full time as a Vet Nurse in a busy mixed animal practice in Whangarei, but I now also run my Photography business part-time. I sell landscape and fine art prints, calendars, gift cards etc., at markets and from my website/social media platforms. I also shoot family portraits and have just started to get into pet portraits which I’m very excited about. I have just gone down to 4 days a week in my day job, so this will give me more time to focus on my photography business.

What are you shooting with?

I use a Canon 5D MK4, mainly the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8. I find most of my images are made with these two lenses. I also have a 16-35mm 2.8 that I sometimes use for those ‘big landscapes’. I try to keep my kit as simple as possible as I don’t like to overcomplicate things.

I use a set of Benro filters when taking landscapes to help darken down the bright sky to even out my exposures, so I don’t have to bracket. I also love to use the 6 and 10-stop filters to slow down and smooth out the water and give movement in the clouds. I use a Manfrotto tripod too that desperately needs replacing due to too much sand and saltwater!

Protors Beach
Canon 5DMKIV, 24-70mm lens @ F11, 1.6s, ISO100, 32mm

What does photography mean to you? Why do you take photos?

I find photography very relaxing and calming. I have a stressful job at times, and if I go out with my camera, it helps me forget about work and all the worries and stresses that everyday life can bring. I love to travel around our country, discovering and photographing the new and beautiful landscapes that New Zealand offers. Capturing the magic light inspires me the most to get out and take photographs.

Photography, to me, is very expressive; you have the freedom to do what you want and how you want. If you want to break all the rules, you can; no one is there to stop you. An example would be ICM (intentional camera movement), where you can be as creative and artistic as you want. When I discovered the ICM technique, it was like a light bulb moment, and my photography changed for the better.

I feel photography is an important part of our life; if it wasn’t for photography, how would we record these special scenes, moments and memories for future generations?

How would you describe your photography?

I guess I’m most known for my New Zealand landscapes; this is definitely the genre I prefer to photograph. It makes my heart sing, and I get really excited when I’m planning a trip away to a new place that I haven’t photographed before.

I find it hard to talk about my photography. It is something I need to work on. I have asked other photographers to describe my photography style, and the one word that keeps coming back to me is fine art.

This is a style that I have worked on and continue to work on to achieve. Not all of my landscape work is fine art, but I do strive to produce work that is at the fine art level in my eyes.

To me, fine art photography means that the images are taken beyond the basic or literal photographic representation of a scene; they are not just snapped randomly. It goes beyond just capturing what is in front of the camera.

I will consider factors such as lines, space, colour, depth, form, texture and most importantly, light. The images will convey a feeling and will have an artistic vision. Essentially, a fine art image to me is one that is original and evokes emotion in the viewer or makes them stop and pause for thought.

Read the full article by Shelly Linehan in Issue 59 of NZPhotographer magazine.

For access to all articles in our back issues, become a subscriber,
alternatively, you can order a printed copy.