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March - Elisabeth Carmel.

Natural landscapes and nature photography from America are the main themes that occupy most of Elizabeth Carmel’s time these days. She has also invested much time in mastering the art and craft of digital photography and printing and began selling prints of her work through galleries many years ago. “This type of work is what I want to share with others” she says.

That America is a land of contrasts should have escaped no one in contact with the media these days. Most are probably aware of the country’s almost unique ability to produce aspects of life that go from the sublime to the ridiculous, depending on your definitions. The urban facets are well documented in all manner of ways but there still remain patches of rural wilderness not completely tamed, again depending on your definition, that are not highlighted to the same extent.

In an artist’s statement about some recent work in a tourist resort, Elizabeth Carmel takes up this point:
“Lake Tahoe is a place of contrasts. Wild mountains, crowds and traffic, opulent wealth, casinos, trailer parks, bears, and stunning scenery. Gated housing compounds and docks covert the expressive sky and brilliant water. Protected stretches of public shoreline still cling to nature’s treasures amidst the forgotten beer bottles and noise of jetskis. The crystal water emanates unearthly hues that engulf the senses.”

There are no jetskis or traffic in her work. She will often be up very early or very late with her camera when no one has arrived or they have all gone home. She strives to distil the essence of nature untouched, or at least resting from the onslaught of humankind. Romantic perhaps but certainly not alone as she lives by selling her work as fine art prints and so fills an obvious shared need. Perhaps she is recording and creating what the crowds expected to experience but never personally found when they arrived.

 Elizabeth Carmel started out as an urban planner, with photography as a side interest. She took some college level classes in photography but left it at that. After her daughter was born, she took up a digital camera and immediately became drawn towards exploring the possibilities, glad to leave film behind. And that is where her present involvement took off. She has now accumulated a lot of experience in the digital field. Her work is often seen alongside other photographers’ that use large format cameras so she is aware of the technical competition. To meet that she chose an H1 with a Hasselblad  Ixpress CF 132C back and an ImageBank for storage. Her lens choice includes a HC 300mm, HC 120mm macro, HC 35mm, HC 80mm, HC 50 -110 zoom and the H 1.7x converter. Elizabeth points out her fondness for the lenses that match the demands from a 22 megapixel back. She also highlights the fact that her prints, which she produces herself, are virtually grain free, “It gives my work a crystal clear quality that is appreciated in the fine art market” she adds. However it doesn’t stop there, Elizabeth is already looking forward to upgrading to the new 39 megapixel back with an H2 body.

She sells her work through galleries or directly, her clients being mainly individuals who like and want to collect her fine art prints. To reach a wider audience, a book of her images from Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and the High Sierra is in the final stages of completion. On her personal wish list you will also find Alaska, the Arctic Wildlife refuge as well as the canyons of South-western USA as future candidates for books too.
Although Elizabeth Carmel works mainly with her own projects, she also welcomes the opportunity of editorial and advertising assignments that involve landscape photography as that is her subject. She is aware that it attracts many other photographers as well: “I am focused on making images that are unique and on creating my own style. I do not want to duplicate work that has been done already … the challenge is to create landscape images that are about more than documenting a place”. Elizabeth Carmel has created for herself a pleasant niche as it is essentially her personal work that she sells. 

However, selling her fine art photographic prints is no happy-go-lucky affair, as she plans her year scheduling marketing, promotion, art shows and customer contact fitting in photo-shoots according to the season.

Elizabeth Carmel has won awards such as Nature’s Best Magazine Landscape Photography award and she was one of the three selected finalists for the Photoshop Guru Award in the Digital Photography category in 2004. On top of that, she has taken part in a 2005 show at the Nevada Museum of Art is due to participate in an upcoming show at the San Diego Museum of Natural History.  Elizabeth plans to create a large body of work that has a unique and identifiable style, and where all the images will be digital. She sums up the situation as follows: “I think the future photographers will be judged on what they do with the image after it has been taken as much as what they captured when the shutter released.”

You can see a very good selection of her work at her website.

David Jeffery