My journey to become a Photographer/Artist was not planned...Instead, it has been an organic progression. I grew up in Savannah, Georgia. I was 13 when I received my first camera for my birthday. There was an old Catholic cemetery near my home. It was beautifully landscaped with azaleas and moss hanging from giant shady oak trees. I was probably eight the first time I wrote a poem sitting with my back resting against a gravestone that was over a hundred years old. I would return many times to that cemetery just to commune with nature while reading and writing poetry.
I loved the west and western culture as a kid and loved dressing up like a cowgirl. I grew up listening to the music that my parents liked which was country & western; Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, etc. The first song that I learned to sing was “Walkin’ After Midnight”. Little did I know, that I would make a career impersonating Patsy Cline later on in my life.
I received a guitar for my birthday when I was fourteen and taught myself to play. Songwriting came easy to me. Songs about injustice and love gone wrong. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt are my favorites. I was and still am a country/blues/folk singer. https://www.youtube.com/cjhardingmusic/
My fascination and love for nature is something that has stayed with me for my entire life. I was in my twenties when I set out to hike all of the National Parks in the west. I lived out of my backpack with enough food to stay in the backcountry for a couple of weeks. Then I would restock and hitchhike to another park. In those days, I didn’t even own a camera, I was there for the experience. One year, I traveled around the world for six months and hiked to the Tibetan border. I lived on a catamaran for a month in the archipelago north of West Papua, New Guinea scuba diving in the pristine reefs in and around Raja Ampat and searching for the elusive Red Bird of Paradise. I never became a professional photographer, but instead favored music and became an entertainer. Music was my passion. I toured in a show for 20 years that I created called “Sweet Dreams” A Patsy Cline Tribute.
However, my love for photography and nature never left me. It wasn’t until a Christmas a few years ago that my husband gave me a Canon DSLR camera with a couple of lenses. Christmas morning the trees were bare and a fresh fallen snow had laid the background for an amazing photo. Within minutes of getting the camera operational, a Red Shouldered Hawk swooped down over the pond and grabbed a squirrel with his talons, then landed in a tree some fifty feet away from our window. The 300mm lens showed me this raptor in astonishing detail. I was hooked!
I love all mediums of art; photography, painting and music. I painted the "Poppies" watercolor above forty years ago. I didn't paint again until many years later. After retiring from music, I began painting with watercolors and then acrylics loving the vibrancy of the paints. I'm also fascinated with pen and ink while drawing the tiniest details. I'm a self-taught artist and photographer learning something new everyday while honing my skills. Weaving magic; Communing with nature; Riding my bike; Hiking back country trails; I feel fortunate and grateful to explore this beautiful planet we call home. Whether I am capturing images in nature or painting in my studio, I am a happy camper.
I live with my husband of twenty years, in a condo on the water facing Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, Florida in the winter and in the summer months west of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I love both of my homes and I feel lucky to be able to experience both places. Each place has its own unique qualities that make for some spectacular shots. I’ve traveled extensively, which has given me a plethora of opportunities to learn the culture and experience the diversity of this planet. From Roseate Spoonbills to Loons; from canyons to mountains; from rivers to oceans; from dragonflies to eagles; from tigers to elephants, our planet never ceases to amaze me.My greatest accomplishments are my three children who are all married with their own kids to raise. They live on the west coast, which gives me the opportunity to visit and capture some amazing photos of nature in the northwest and California.
I have truly learned that an artist’s work is never done and I find that exciting, because our world is continuously evolving. To have the privilege to photograph nature, is to experience an intimate moment in time. I have found that these shots evoke the most emotion in me, as they truly create the same feelings I felt while at the moment of taking the photo and that is the Greatest Gift Of All.
Art Stirs The Soul……