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Photographer Gloria Spellman: What the House Was Saying

Dark Shadows by Gloria Spellman
Dark Shadows by Gloria Spellman

Sometimes you run into a scene like this one, a scene that — as photographer Gloria Spellman put it — “screamed to be photographed.”

Dark Shadows is in the “mini” portion of “MiniMAX,” this month’s exhibit of large and small works, but its small size didn’t prevent it from catching the juror’s eye: Spellman won the Eleanor Boudreau Jordan Award for the best small work in the show. We asked the photographer to tell us this image’s story:

What was your goal with Dark Shadows?
Gloria Spellman: I like creating a photo that evokes a story. Although the house in Dark Shadows has been neglected over the years, I found beauty in its structure, and the shadows amplify mystery. During the post processing of this photo I wanted to augment these features and rouse the imagination of the viewer.

The Door by Gloria Spellman
The Door by Gloria Spellman

What location is depicted?
While on a photography road trip with a couple of friends, we happened to pass this old abandoned house on a road in North Carolina. I had to stop. There was something about that house that screamed to be photographed! We pulled over and I got out and walked around the grounds and inside the house – taking it all in. There were definitely stories within its walls and its yard.

Many aspects of this house spoke to me, but I was not sure of what the house was saying. Since I was unable to pinpoint what I wanted to convey, finding the right composition was challenging. I shot several angles of the house and this is what I know: The house reminded me of my great grandparents’ house which was built in North Carolina in the 1850s. Also, the shadows from the large trees were very prominent and intriguing.

Abandoned by Gloria Spellman
Abandoned by Gloria Spellman

What gear did you use to shoot this?
The software I use includes Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik and Topaz Labs. My camera is a Nikon D7100 and I usually carry a few lenses with me when I am photographing to ensure I can shoot several different compositions.

What is your creative process like? Do you typically have the final product in mind when you shoot, or does it emerge during editing?
When something catches my eye to photograph, I seldom have a clear vision of the final product. It usually becomes clear as I review the photograph days or even months later and begin my post processing. In this photo, it was the shadows that directed my vision to the final product. Since I use several photographic software applications, I usually test a few of them until a result emerges that somehow pulls together the initial feelings I experienced when I first encountered the subject.

Broken Window by Gloria Spellman
Broken Window by Gloria Spellman

What are some of your favorite subjects as a photographer?
I find that I enjoy shooting a wide range of subjects using various applications: in particular, wildlife, nature, and still life, using compositing and digital manipulation. My choice of subject is inspired by my fascination and love of color, shapes, and texture.

What’s the best part of being a photographer?
As a photographer I have the opportunity to capture and share the beauty around us that many just don’t have the time – or take the time – to really “see.” Another aspect of my work as a photographer is the ability to take an image and create a feeling or stir the imagination.

“MiniMAX” is open through Sunday, December 4.

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