Susan Hargrave’s early exposure to photography didn’t exactly inspire her:
“When I was a child,” she says, “my parents took thousands of snapshots, and I found it annoying. Before we did anything as a family, we had to stop for my parents to photograph it.”
Despite that inauspicious start, photography was among the arts and crafts she used to follow her creative impulses. Later, it became a main focus for her.
“I began to do more photography when I pursued a masters degree in educational media. That was around the same time I met my husband, photographer Paul Light.
“Paul encouraged me to spend more time outdoors, which increased my interest in landscape photography. Now we venture out in all seasons—walking, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and attending festivals—always with cameras.”
Photography’s also changed the way she sees.
“I take more time to look at things now than I did, and in doing that, I appreciate more of what I’m seeing. I also observe how other people work and that gives me ideas.”
How would you describe yourself as a photographer?
It’s pretty simple. When I see something beautiful or amazing, I like to photograph it and share the image. I enjoy the challenge of creating a compelling composition from things I experience in nature and in my travels.
What is the primary focus of your photographic work?
Landscape and travel mainly. I also like to photograph events and public art (such as street art, sandcastles, ice sculptures architectural details, gardens).
Whose work inspires you?
There are many photographers whose work I enjoy, although my main inspiration is probably nature and life itself. A few of the photographers whose work I have enjoyed are Andy Goldsworthy, Eliot Porter, Edward Weston, Joel Meyerwitz, Christopher Burkett and Joseph Holmes.
Do you have a mentor or a muse?
I have learned a lot from my husband, photographer Paul Light, although I don’t always agree with him. For example, as a purist, he believes that a photograph isn’t finished until it is printed. I don’t feel it is necessary to print, and I enjoy sharing my photographs online.
What advice would you give a budding photographer?
Don’t be satisfied with taking a single image of something. Keep experimenting until your image is compelling. There are millions of photos out there, so it takes some effort to stand out.
Has your work been exhibited?
I had a two-person exhibit with Paul of photographs I took while kayaking around the tiny islands near Stonington, Maine. We exhibited the work at Harvard’s Gutman Center and at Middlesex Community College in 2000. I also exhibited in the PRC member show in 2016.
What was your motivation for joining the PRC?
I have enjoyed the PRC events, lectures, exhibits, Nights at the PRC, and member shows.