An Interview with Patricia Davidson by Beata Moore

Patricia Davidson is an award-winning outdoor photographer, specializing in landscape, commercial assignments and travel photography. She has been living on the Oregon Coast in USA for over 20 years. Currently, she and her husband live nomadically, traveling in their RV throughout the western United States. With a background in the visual arts and web development, she sets out to produce images that express her artistic vision as well as her love of nature and the outdoors. Patricia’s landscapes are as energetic as they are diverse - picturesque mountains, blossoming plants, colorful skylines as well as serene bodies of water.

1. What was your path to become a photographer?

I’ve been photographing landscapes since around 2007. I’ve loved photography since I was in high school. I didn’t have a chance to get back into it though until my kids were grown. Back then, I won a state photo contest with a point and shoot camera, my husband surprised me with my first DSLR. From there began a renewed passion for photography.

Living on the Southern Oregon Coast for many years, I developed my skills as a landscape photographer on the local beaches and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Spending time in nature has always been a part of my life since my early childhood years. My family loved camping and outdoor activities. I’ve always felt at home outdoors, in nature. It’s definitely where I feel the greatest amount of peace.

2. Do you prefer to photograph close to home or do you find faraway places more inspiring? Are there any special places that inspire you the most to create new work?

Even though I have often photographed close to home, I would take several trips a year to other parts of the Pacific Northwest. I did that for many years. I really enjoyed getting to know local areas and experiencing them through photography.

My lifestyle changed three years ago when I quit my day job as a web developer and moved into an RV with my husband. We now travel full-time throughout the western United States. We no longer have a “sticks and brick” home, we are nomads.

I’m enjoying photographing desert landscapes, which is something very new to me. I’m finding the southwest to be very inspiring and challenging at the same time.

I’ve not done any international travel yet, but it’s definitely in my future plans. I’m really having a great time seeing parts of the United States I never had time to visit before.

Specific locations that never fail to inspire me are the seascapes and waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest. Also, the geology and colors in places like Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

3. Are you a meticulous pre-planner or do you prefer creating images spontaneously? Do you revisit your favourite places many times to achieve the required result? Can you tell us more about your method of working?

I guess I’m not a meticulous pre-planner at this point in my life. Sure I’m planning out months ahead for places I’d like to photograph, but I’m also willing to change my plans if opportunities arise. With the mobile lifestyle, there are always things that come up that can dictate a change. For example, weather conditions or vehicle maintenance issues.

I do like to stay in an area long enough to experience optimal conditions for photography. By staying more than a day or two I can return again and again to spots I want to photograph. I will also get a chance to scout new locations nearby that I’ve never been to before. Typically, after arriving in an area, I’ll use daylight hours to scout and explore the area. Then I check my apps to determine time and conditions for sunrise and sunset.

4. Terra Quantum displays themes and series portfolios; do you like working to the project/series/theme or find creating individual images more rewarding?

I love the idea of working in themes and series. Though most of my work is individual images, I find that I love projects and themes. For years I’ve had a project, Colors of the Oregon Coast. My goal was to have photos I like from every coastal town in Oregon. I did some local exhibits with this theme, which I really enjoyed. Now I’m creating print books within this very theme. I’ve already created my first print book and have sold several so far. I have other plans to expand this theme/project and I have a few more in the early planning stages.

5. Can you tell us a bit more about one chosen photograph – what is the story behind it, when/why/how it was created?

This photo was taken at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California. I met up with some photographer friends to shoot the rhododendrons and big trees. However, they were scarce that year. Instead we had about three days of incredible light filtering through the fog. When I thought I might not come home with any photos, I actually had several photos from that trip that I liked.

6. Colour, b&w or both? How do you decide about the elimination or inclusion of colour and why. When do you decide about it – in the field or during the post processing?

I’m a big fan of color photography. Though I enjoy others’ photographs in black and white, my personal favourites are in color. Of course I do black and white on occasion, but it’s really not what I focus on. I would always start with color and shoot in raw. If I decide the image should be black and white, I would do it in post processing.

7. Do you find printing your images yourself as an integral part of image creation or do you use professional labs? How important is the choice of paper for you?

I have always had a desire to purchase a printer and create the images myself. Now that I’m in a tiny, mobile space, that is out of the question. Someday I hope to do that. I think it could be very rewarding to personally print them myself. Currently, I use professional labs I trust and have seen the quality.

When I first started selling prints I would sell mostly framed and matted images. For the last few years I’ve seen a real trend in metal prints. The majority of prints I sell now are metal prints and occasionally canvas.

8. Do you think that social media is killing photography or playing an important role in promoting your work? How involved are you in your online presence?

I think building an online audience is very important for promoting your photography. I have a background in web development so I’ve been pretty passionate about maintaining a website and getting involved in social media. It’s a balancing act sometimes trying to be consistent with posting and interacting with my followers. I’ve definitely benefited over the years from participating in social media but over the last couple of years I’ve backed off a little so that I have more time to be outdoors.

Since the early days when social media all began, there have been some disturbing changes. I see these changes happening on Instagram for example. More and more people calling themselves travel photographers are going to beautiful destinations for their “selfie” just to gain popularity. We are seeing more and more reckless behaviour as well with people damaging pristine and protected areas. It’s really disheartening to see this pattern happening. I think social media has played a role in this pattern because of the amount of photographs that are out there for people to see. As a landscape photographer, I feel I need to be an example and practice leaving no trace. I like seeing that more and more nature photographers are banning together to teach these basic practices and to call out those that are doing these illegal or unethical things to gain followers.

9. Do you have any plans for exhibitions, books or any interesting projects coming? Can you tell us a bit more about your artistic plans for the next couple of years?

As I mentioned, I have a few book projects going at the moment. I’m pretty excited about continuing my Colors of the Oregon Coast series.

Since I’m living in an RV I can’t maintain an inventory due to living minimal, so I can’t plan any shows right now. I’m hoping though, in the future to be involved in more shows. I’ve always enjoyed being part of an exhibit. I do feature my work in a couple of galleries on the Oregon Coast but I’m hoping to expand into other galleries within the next couple of years. I’m making notes and visiting galleries as I travel to find the right fit for my work before I approach anyone.

Since living a mobile lifestyle, I’ve enjoyed having more time to write. I just released a new eBook this year, Your Photography – The Essential Guide to Promoting Your Work Locally. I have more ideas for eBooks planned for release in the near future.

For at least the next couple of years, I see myself continuing to live my nomadic lifestyle. When my husband and I feel it’s time to get a home base again I’m sure I’ll be redirecting my thoughts and developing new strategies for promoting my work.

10. We are living on the most beautiful planet, yet it is over-burdened and over-polluted. As photography is an influential medium, do you use the power of your photographs to promote our Earth appreciation and environmental awareness? Any thoughts how photographers in general can become more involved in this important matter?

I think nature/landscape photographers do have a huge responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. We need to be an example to others on how to treat the environment and world we live in. In this day and age, we can join likeminded environmental groups; contact our government officials, practice leaving no trace and more. I think we can be very influential in stepping up to the plate and having a voice where we feel we can make a real difference.     

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