For photographer Nancy Shuler, creativity is the food of the soul. She believes that moments of creativity give the biggest high an individual can have.
Shuler has been working with photography for about 40 years. Her work will be on display at the Creative Arts Center in Bonham until the end of the month.
Shuler is a not-professionally trained photographer from Oklahoma who splits her time between Texoma and California. Aside from the Creative Arts Center, Shuler’s photography has been featured at the Plaza Art Gallery in Paris.
“I started entering local contests like the Watermelon Festival and the Ida Bell County Fair,” she said. “That was many years ago. I was winning a lot and the photographer at the Watermelon Festival and Beaver Bend Festival told me that I could not enter anymore because my work was too professional looking.”
Shuler decided to start acting as a professional photographer. The first step, for her, was taking her work to the Plaza Art Gallery.
“I became a part of the gallery,” she said. “After about three months, I was told that some of my photos would be taken to the Creative Arts Center in Bonham to be a part of a gallery.”
Shuler said that she became a photographer because she loves to paint.
“But I cannot draw,” she said. “A lot of my photographs look like paintings. I like to make things look surrealistic. I like photography in rain. It already has a surrealistic look to it. It already makes things look like paintings.”
Shuler said she also uses Photoshop to enhance her photographs.
“The Creative Arts Center recently had a really interesting exhibit,” she said. “They did a Sci-Fi and fantasy exhibit. I entered the contest and got second and third place in the photography category. Lisa Avila asked me to open a month-long exhibit.”
The “Magic Touch: Photographic Art” exhibit by Shuler at the Creative Arts Center has between 27-35 photographs of things like architecture, nature, cats and more.
“The exhibit includes photos of various sizes and subjects,” Shuler said. “It is a little of everything except people. The reason why there are no people is because I do not photograph people. I even have a few pictures of dragons. I put them in a surreal setting so that they look more realistic.”
There is no real theme to the exhibit, she said. Miscellaneous photographs in the collection are of dragons, spider webs and other things.
“When it comes to photography, learn all the rules and then break them,” Shuler said. “A few of the really important rules are the rule of thirds, take photos either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and make sure that the lighting is behind you and not the subject.”
Shuler said she uses the rule of thirds so the focal point of the photo is slightly off center in the photograph.
“Also with movement, give the subject space to move across the frame,” she said. “It leads the eye and gives the viewer a sense of direction.”
Lighting, Shuler said, is very important.
“Shoot in the ideal hour, which is early morning or late afternoon,” she said. “In the middle of the day, it is really hard to play with the light.”
Also, Shuler said, good photography comes from having good tools to take the photo.
“You need a good camera,” she said. “Cell phones can take some pretty good shots, but it’s always good to invest in a good camera.”
Tigerlily is Shuler’s favorite piece in her “Magic Touch” exhibit because it plays with reflection.
“People need to make up their own stories,” she said. “It’s just kind of who we are. I like abandoned houses. Storytelling is what all of us do in our own mind. Photography should spark the mind and make us want to tell stories.”
When people leave the Creative Arts Center exhibit, Shuler hopes that people are saying that her work is unique.
“I try to stay away from the ordinary,” she said. “People like unique.”
The “Magic Touch” exhibit is part of the “Wine Down on Willow Street” concert series showcasing local musicians and artists. Wine Down Friday will be held from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 17 and will act as the official reception for the exhibition.
Homestead and Le Noir Sage will again be on hand, as will the La Coqueta food truck. Music will also be part of the program. Admission is free, though donations are accepted to keep this program going. For more information, call the center at 903-640-2196.