Brenda Tharp is a photographer, writer, speaker and teacher. Her photographs of nature and travel subjects are in private collections across the country and also decorate the walls of many homes and offices internationally.
A popular workshop instructor, international tour leader, Brenda also lectures regularly at photo conferences on the subjects of technique and creativity. She is the author & photographer of “Expressive Nature Photography” (due to be published July 2017), “Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography” and co-author of “Extraordinary Everyday Photography”.
Her stock photographs are used for commercial ads, and brochures, along with books, calendars and greeting cards, and she is regularly accepted in the Top 100 of NANPA’s Expressions photo competition and magazine.
How did you get your start in photography?
After many years in the corporate world, I took the ‘leap’. I had been dabbling in art shows and competitions for some time before that. I first worked as a commercial and editorial photographer, doing assignments for magazines, books, ad agencies and design firms, with a variety of subject matter. But soon I switched back to what I loved doing most– landscape, nature and travel photography, and began working for magazines and book publishers, and doing stock photography.
What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?
I work primarily in landscape, nature and travel photography, both the reality of and artistic impressions of those genres, but I don’t limit myself to just those genres. Some of my photographs also represent the ‘joy of seeing’ in that they celebrate the light, form, gesture and textures of the world around me, natural or manmade. My target audience these days is the fine art market but I also offer stock licensing of select images.
Did you experience any challenges as a woman entering into the photography market?
For assignments, I didn’t really notice any challenge. But when it came to getting recognized as a landscape photographer, it was more challenging initially, and many of the outdoor/landscape magazines regularly featured the work of male photographers. Some of that was due to the smaller percentage of women doing outdoor photography, and the male-dominated network that publishers would reach out to, but that has changed a lot, I’m happy to say, and women continue to be more recognized in the outdoor photography genre. I think that social media has helped, because we’re not dependent on being published in the magazine(s), so everyone can have their work seen by so many people, online, whether male or female, and that has helped a lot of women become more recognized than ever before.
What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?
My biggest achievement was writing books on photography and having them sell so well in the marketplace. My biggest obstacle? Myself! I think the hardest part of the business is still self-promotion. It’s very hard to be busy doing the work and keeping consistent with promoting your work and yourself. With today’s competitive marketplace, it’s so important to keep getting the word out to as many as possible to be ‘seen’.
Who and/or what inspires you most?
Rather than naming people that inspire me, as there are many, both female and male, I will say that wilderness and nature inspire me – it’s where I feel connected to the world the most, when I’m surrounded by beauty. Also, I’m inspired by seeing new places, and the freshness they instill into my creativity.
What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?
I try to express what I experienced, what I felt, when being there. Whether it’s the dramatic beauty of a landscape, or some study of light/shadow in a village, my goal is the same – to translate that experience in a way that will hopefully have viewers resonating with the photograph.
Why is accurate color important within your workflow?
I want what I have created and see on my monitor to be accurately translated to the print. Whether it’s the true colors of nature or an artistic interpretation of something, what I see is what I want to get in the final print.
Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?
Have persistence and patience, it’s a highly competitive world out there these days. Set a goal for your business, and show only your best work. Remember that people-to-people connections are still the core of your business, even while using social media to advance your career.