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Art & Life with Paulann Egelhoff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paulann Egelhoff.

Paulann, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I knew I wanted to be an artist back in high school. I flourished in nearly every subject four years of Art class had to offer, but I was never quite sure what path I would take later in life. Illustrator? Graphic Designer? Sculptor? I was reasonably adept at any medium, yet photography hadn’t yet dawned on me. Not until I found myself in the company of an archeologist in Norway. Of all things, right?

It was a couple of years after high school that I first traveled to Europe and ended up in the land of Vikings, Bergen to be exact. One day, as I was sipping a coffee in a local cafe, I met someone who worked with Viking-age artifacts. Essentially, they spend their time crafting and re-creating period tools and scenes. They needed a photographer to help capture their pieces for exhibit, I yearned for creative work and loved history, it was a perfect match! I worked with them and their company for the next year until I moved on to something else and left photography on the back burner for a while.

A series of unfortunate events brought me back to the US, and it was right around then that I started noticing just how dysfunctional every facet of our political and economic systems are compared to what I experienced during my three years in Norway and other parts of Western Europe. As a journalist covering protests both locally and nationally, I’ve used my photography to try to empower activists and humanitarians. However, for my own sanity, I have to also step away from politics occasionally and use it to try to find beauty in a world that seems so flawed. 

I’ve donated my time and expertise to countless political and environmental demonstrations over the last couple of years as well as causes for animal welfare. All of that gets really heavy though, so I have to take periodic breaks sometimes and get out in nature or find other ways to incorporate it into my work. Presently, I’m working on both commercial and creative endeavors. Typically solo, but occasionally collaborating with other artists.

After the extreme trauma of personal loss that I’ve had to endure this past year (I lost my mother this past July), I’m currently taking each assignment and each piece one day at a time. I hope to find my focus again and get back to creating new work regularly.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
When asked what I do as an artist, I like to joke around a say “I manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum to create art” to see the reaction I get from people when I follow it up with “I’m a photographer”. It’s true though, I do bend and distort light and color to forge artistic imagery. Be it a fully edited, digital piece or a simple portrait, a little bit of art and science go into everything I create.

Digital Photography, my mainstay, which when compared to other styles sometimes I feel it isn’t “real art”, but it most certainly is. A great deal of time and consideration is put into the composition and lighting. With a forensic eye, I scrutinize every detail of my photographs both during a shoot and after while processing. For me, it’s not as simple as using an Instagram filter or something similar. I have a certain process I’ve crafted over the years and continue to hone as hardware, software, and my own personal style ever changes and evolves.

One interesting thing you will notice in my work is nature; either as a tool for photography, as subject matter, or both. More specifically, the environment. Not necessarily politically charged, although when I covered the local Dakota Access Pipeline protests, you could say it was. Rather, you’ll notice I tend to shoot primarily outdoors and with natural light. Even when I shoot inside with a studio setup, I tend to introduce and blend natural light with artificial light (flashes, strobes, etc.). I do this to bring a certain organic feel even to heavily staged photos. It’s likely the most important part in my process of how I construct and develop the images that become my art.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Don’t get wrapped up in trying to define “success”. For me, success dwells in the value of my expression and the fortitude to continue my work. I don’t see it as an objective or destination — a “goal” of being “successful.” It’s not fame, wealth, or external admiration. I feel if I did, I would quickly revert to a baseline that would inevitably become my new “normal.” I much prefer the idea of trying to be “successful” (according to my own standards and values) on a daily basis. For me, “success” is the effort I put into my work. It’s waking up every day and learning or trying something new. It’s perseverance and dedication, especially during arduous times. Above all, “success” is a state of mind — in which only you can judge yourself. Just work hard on your creative work, every day. Don’t think of “success” or “failure.” Just do the work. Don’t be attached to the results. As cliche as it sounds, just be the best you can be.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Although I’ve been a featured artist in galleries before, I currently do not have any works on exhibition. You can check out more of work in my digital portfolio at paulannegelhoff.com. I’m available for hire and skilled across a wide variety of photography genres and styles. You can find more info, including pricing and reviews on my wesbite. I invite you to contact me and we’ll set something up! Of course, you can also find me on Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook. Please follow and reach out to me on whatever platform suits you!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images are by me, Paulann Egelhoff.

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