“What I love the most is uniting the common with the unexpected… I’m less interested in documenting specifics than I am in fanciful storytelling. I prefer to leave some room for the imagination to fill in the gaps.” I don’t think I could’ve explained our mission here at In The Shadows of Life any better. Expressing our feelings of the moments rather than what our eyes can see. Gwen Coyne does exactly that and sends us on a magical journey of childhood. You wonder about the story. All that is left is feeling. We think you are going to LOVE our featured photographer this month.
Please, go ahead, have the pleasure of meeting Gwen Coyne.
Childhood and lifestyle images are often full of color and joy. How do you feel about breaking the perceived rules of photography by portraying such images in a different way?
In childhood, discovery occurs at an accelerated rate. Discovery can be joyful, or not. I don’t see any need to limit myself to a specific emotion or palette, so I just do whatever seems natural.
For us as a group, the use of deep strong shadows is what sets the mood in our lifestyle images. How do you define “mood” in your own lifestyle photographs?
What I love the most is uniting the common with the unexpected. Shadows, light and reflections can sometimes transform otherwise mundane circumstances into something unique.
Why do you like portraying your lifestyle images in this way? What draws you to this style of photography?
I’m less interested in documenting specifics than I am in fanciful storytelling. I prefer to leave some room for the imagination to fill in the gaps.
When shooting in beautiful light, what attracts you more- the light, or the shadows that go with it?
A perfect balance between the two. Beautiful light allows me to better call attention to both the shadows and the subjects.
What do you find inspiring in childhood that drives your need to capture it?
My parents’ camera was stolen when I was a kid and I was the second child, so I have very few pictures of myself. Most of the images I have from my childhood are in my memories. Maybe this influenced my approach to photography—a desire to evoke a fantastical sense of childhood, rather than to strictly document it as is.
Can you give one tip on how to shoot in “moody” light or low light?
Experiment with apps, filters and movement. Embrace long exposures, high ISO, grain and blur.
What keeps you going when you feel uninspired?
Also, browsing the work of others helps keep me sensitized to my day-to-day surroundings and reminds me to stay attentive.
What is your favorite time of day to photograph? And why?
Whenever I get a chance, as photography is not my career and I have limited free time. Morning and evening light makes things more magical, of course.
What’s in your camera bag?
Lately, I’ve been shooting and editing almost exclusively on my iPhone 6, so I don’t carry a bag. Whereas I love the quality I get from my Nikon DSLR, I generally reserve it for when I’m not with my daughter. My phone is more convenient and allows for a less invasive, more immediate response to what’s going on around me.
JPEG or RAW? Photoshop or Lightroom?
Either or, depending on the camera I’m using. Oggl by Hipstamatic is my editor of choice on the phone. After shooting, I also minimally adjust levels and sharpness with various mobile apps, including Lightroom. With the phone, I like that I can carry my darkroom with me, wherever I go.