Susan Tuttle: An Intrinsic Artistic Experience by Dilshad C.
Susan Tuttle is a wonderful iPhoneographer who’s craft is full of depth, her work has been published many times and won many photographic awards. She has showcased her work internationally and it is during one of these shows that I came across her work and completely fell in love with her photography! She describes herself as: “A momma of two beautiful children that teach me daily, married to my soul mate Howie, living in the woods of rural Maine, enjoying a simple life and the exquisite nature that surrounds me. I am the creator of VisualPoetry, a series of online photography and Photoshop workshops.”
A self-taught photographer and digital artist, she relies mostly on her inner knowledge when she takes a picture — “shooting from the gut, most likely breaking all the rules. When I see something special I wish to capture, I can literally feel my heart rise in my chest and I follow those gut instincts.” A feeling common to many of us, especially to me! So it was quite an easy decision for me to ask her to be interviewed for We are Juxt, and I think it was absolutely worth it! So, without much ado, let me introduce you to Madam Susan Tuttle.
Dilshad Corleone DC – Susan Tuttle ST
DC: Well, the first time I saw your work (see photo below) it was during the MobilepixatiOn, PIXEL REVOLUTION, in London, curated by akwamarina @iPhonehipsta and it was love at first sight! Your photo “Her bare feet made an endless chain of prints” made me imagine her dancing and tiptoeing like a ballerina, I was really drawn into that photograph, truly hypnotized by it. So, the next thing I did was to follow you on IG, and yes, my very first opinion was only reinforced; I love your work. That minimalistic touch you have is powerful, the subtle colours and your black and white silhouettes and shadows manage to captivate me each time I look at them. So who is the magician behind these stunning photographs?
They Surround Me With Their Light
ST: Wow, thank you Dil for your comments about my work; I am most grateful and humbled. The thing about creating art is that you absolutely can make magic through your medium, and I think that is one of the reasons why I am so drawn to creating mini, other-worldly, story-like scenes through my iPhoneography. I live in the woods in a remote, small Maine town, where my surroundings naturally inspire this kind of work. Heading out into the forest for a photo shoot can be quite the adventure, as seen in my purely iPhone series called Wood Land. It’s not as glamorous as you may think though, as the bugs get me every time, I rip pretty dresses on thorny branches, and have lost my footing numerous times.
DC: So, you are the mysterious model in your mobile portrait work?
ST: I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Yes, it’s me. I use myself as the model most of the time, although I don’t tend to think of my portraits as selfies. It’s more like I am playing the part of a character in a film or play. I have a closet-full of costumes and props and a make-shift studio in my bedroom that consists of natural, north-facing light, a white moveable backdrop (I also have a black one), and reflectors.
Tell Them I Shan’t Be Home To Tea
DC: Can you tell me a bit more about your early experiences with photography and with art in general?
ST: My first experiences with the arts were actually through music. I’m a classically-trained flutist; I started playing at age nine and later attended Rutgers – Mason Gross School of the Arts and The Boston Conservatory, where I majored in both Flute Performance and Music Education. I taught K-12 music for ten years in the Greater Boston area and in Maine, where I’ve lived for almost 15 years with my husband and our two young kids. A serious car accident in 1996 changed my views on life and sparked my creativity further. While healing, I began to draw with charcoals. This blossomed into abstract painting and mixed-media collage. In 2003, we had our first-born, and I began to get into photography (babies make great subjects) and Photoshop. I started a blog which I continue to publish to regularly: www.susantuttlephotography.com. Suffice it to say, I found my artistic niche in photography, and not a day goes by where I don’t shoot with a passion! I love it that much!
DC: Do you shoot predominantly with a mobile or do you also use a big camera?
ST: Both. I love my Canon DSLR and my iPhone equally, for different reasons. I use the big camera for various types of photography, including portraiture, landscape, still-life, food, and macro. I enjoy experimenting with various lenses and techniques, and find that nothing comes close to the image quality of a DSLR. My phone is used for the edgier style of portraiture that you see on my IG feed (@susantuttle). I am drawn to the immediacy of mobile photography and the fact that I can shoot and photo-manipulate all on my little phone, no matter where I am, whether it’s waiting in line at the grocery store, on the couch watching tv, relaxing in bed, wherever.
DC: What is it that you like to create? I mean, what is it that you are trying to express?
ST: When it comes to my mobile photography, I try to make each photo feel like a story or a dream. There needs to be a sense of motion and energy behind each work, even in stillness. I often give titles to fuel the imaginations of my viewers, but really I want them to be the ones to decide what the story behind each piece is. The most exciting kind of art, I think, is where viewers take an active part in the process, and without their reactions, the works are left unfinished and lifeless.
DC: There is a lot of mastery in your photography and editing — how and where did you learn? And for those that would like to start doing what you do, what would you recommend to them?
ST: Thank you. I can tell you about the path that I took, and perhaps it will be helpful to someone wanting to go a similar route. I am a self-taught photographer and Photoshop user (both CS and Elements). Although, the term ‘self-taught’ doesn’t really make much sense to me, because all it means is that I have taken control of my own learning and chosen how and from whom I wanted to learn, via online tutorials, publications, etc. It also means hours and hours of experimentation and play, coupled with trusting my inner artistic voice. I have been a Photoshop gal for a little more than 10 years. In addition to using Photoshop to edit and add effects to my DSLR photography, I have also used it to create surreal digital pieces, some of which you can view here. So, when I dove into pure iPhoneography, these skills transferred easily and naturally. I think of photography apps as being like mini pieces of Photoshop, if that makes sense.
Stars That Have Burned Visibly All Day
I love to teach what I know and I’ve had the privileges of teaching online photography and Photoshop classes through my website, and authoring three books on the subjects of photography, Photoshop, and mixed-media art. I am currently working on my fourth book with North Light Books/F+W Media, on the subjects of DSLR photography and mobile photography (due to be out in August 2014).
My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark
DC: Some of your photographs have a touch of sensual artistic nudity. What is it that you are trying to express with this? And what does nakedness means to you?
ST: Simply put, the human body is beautiful; lines, shapes, form, and the play of light and shadow upon it. I love to mold my body into a shape(s) and photograph it, and sometimes the best way to see the form is without clothing. My work often captures motion, whether it be a moment frozen in time, or blurred motion. Many times I add blur to my pieces in the post-editing phase, to imply motion. I think I must have been a dancer in a past life, as I have always been drawn to this art form and have attended numerous modern dance performances throughout my life. My iPhoneography definitely draws inspiration from this type of dance. I am attracted to greats like Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Alwin Nikolais, and Murray Louis. I like to watch companies like Pilobolus, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
DC: You have had several books published. Tell us about them.
ST: Here is a list of my three books to date, and I have a fourth in the works (on DSLR photography and mobile photography).
Her Bare Feet Made an Endless Chain of Prints
D: Congratulation for all your published work, can you tell me more about the fourth book, what is it that the reader will find and to who it will appeal?
ST: Thanks so much Dil. The fourth book I am currently working on focuses on digital SLR and mobile photography. I teach the reader how to shoot creatively with their digital SLR camera, getting it out of auto mode and utilizing all of the features and settings it has available to them. I weave in lots of mobile photography tips and techniques throughout the book. We explore many styles; portraiture, landscape, food styling, pet photography, still life, nature, street photography, and more. The book also contains post-processing tips and techniques, including stepped-out tutorials on how to apply a variety of different effects to enhance your photos (both DSLR and mobile photos). I am blessed to have some superb contributors featured in the book. The DSLR contributors include author Tracey Clark who is the founder of the popular website Shutter Sisters, food photographer and cookbook author extraordinaire Celine Steen, the talented Vivienne McMaster, and many more. The mobile photography contributors include the wonderful Dilshad Corleone, Melissa Vincent, David Booker, Thomas Kakareko, Merek Davis, Daniel Berman, Christina Nørdam Andersen, Edi Caves, and more. My book will be published by North Light Books/F+W Media Inc. in August 2014 and be available in the United States and abroad.There is no official title for the book at this moment.
Take The Wings of Morning
D: AH!! I am quite flattered to be featured together with so many interesting and talented people! thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
ST: Yes. I’d like to thank you Dil for this opportunity to share with readers. I appreciate all that the folks of We Are Juxt do to promote community, education, professionalism, and opportunities for mobile photographers to share with others.
Darling Shoulders Softly Pale
Where you can find Susan:
A Perfectly Poised Ballerina Balances En Pointe When You Open This Charming Jewelry Box…