Joan Marie, Unraveled | An Interview

Joan is a graduate from the University of Vermont where she studied Studio Art and Advertising. She has been taking pictures for as long as she can remember, but prefers the term “artist” over “photographer.” She is the mother of 2 wonderful boys who were born on the same day, 2 years apart! Joan strongly believes that it is essential that you follow your passion in order to live a fulfilling and purposeful life (even if that means doing it as a side gig), but you MUST make time for it. She teaches on macro photography inside the Academy and we love how she finds peace and grounding in this art form.

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Here is Joan, Unraveled…

What inspires your art? I. love. art.  Studio Art was my major at the University of Vermont.  I dove head first into photography when I had my first son in 2010.  I became obsessed, as many moms do, with documenting everything through my photography.

What do you shoot with? Camera body and favorite lens? I currently shoot with A Nikon D750.  I don’t think i can commit to a favorite anything, let alone lens. I mainly use my 35mm sigma art, my 24 - 70mm tamron and my 70 - 200 tamron.  If I am shooting macro I typically use my sigma 105mm.

What other ways do you express your creativity? That’s a great question!  hmmm...I enjoy creating things. I mainly express my creativity through different genres of photography (self portraiture, newborns, families, macro, etc.) But I also knit and sew.  I also enjoy reupholstering furniture and DIY projects around my home. I rearrange my furniture in my house probably 3- 4 times a year and have been known to repaint rooms when I get bored of them.  This past winter I started experimenting with watercolor with my sons which I really enjoyed and would love to spend more time with. I also am asking for an electroforming kit for my Birthday so that I can start copper plating things!

How do you de-stress at the end of the day?  Ways that I de-stress at the end of the day can vary tremendously.  And believe it or not, I get lost in my editing. I find it therapeutic and relaxing to just submerge myself into the creative abyss.  Self portraiture is another way that I am able to de-stress. There is something about it; a release. I enjoy a cold beer and some good music; that always helps me de-stress; yes I am a beer girl!

What kind of music do you listen to while editing?  I listen to all types of music. But I think I mostly listen to Krishna Das Radio on Sirius XM.  Right now I am REALLY into Simrit Kaur. Her devotional chants are soothing and uplifting.

What is your favorite book? One of my favorites is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  When I am feeling uninspired, I can listen to that on audible and feel the spark come back to create. I am also a HUGE Tom Robbins fan.  All of his books are GREAT! I also just received Howard Stern Comes Again for my Birthday (huge Stern fan)! When I needed it most, I came across a book a friend had given me called “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser. If you are lost, alone, etc, I highly recommend this book!  It helped me through the most difficult point in my life (up to this point) and it is about how difficult times help us to grow.

Name one movie that inspires you. Eat Pray Love

How do you handle self-doubt or creative slumps?  Oh wow, the self doubt monster that creeps in all too often with the invention of social media.  I tell it to shut the hell up. I remind myself that I am not in competition with anyone but myself.  It takes a lot of work and practice and self reflection to get there though. I don’t know what has changed, but I’ve done tons of personal work on myself in the last 10 years or so and I think I may just have acquired tools to help me with that.  I can look at work that I did years ago and see my growth and know that I am a work in progress. When I find myself in a creative slump, it forces me to look at the beauty all around me. To pay attention to interesting lighting situations. I used to participate in weekly facebook challenges.  Now I do monthly self portrait themes. These types of challenges help give you a stepping stone to create and usually leads to other ideas. I highly encourage others to take part in things like that. It not only pushes you to create, but it also builds friendships and reminds us that community is so much better than competition!

What has been the most difficult part of your creative journey? The most difficult part of my creative journey has been not letting the negative comments or unsupportive people in my life get in my head.  There have been people who were very close to me at one point who wanted me to fail; who told me to give up. What some people don’t understand is that creatives like myself NEED our artistic outlet. It’s like air to us.  And if I listened to those people, I would have died in the spiritual sense. Sometimes we need to learn to walk away from the people who cannot understand that. These people will never understand how our art is part of who we are.  And we can’t expect them to, they are just built differently than us. So we must forgive them and let them go so that we can make room for the people who do understand and will be supportive and will encourage us to grow.

Who is one of your favorite photographers? Haha!  Another favorite? Oh man, there are just SO MANY!  I absolutely love Jessica Lutz’s self portraits, but there are so many women I am a total fangirl of.  Jane Iskra and Fire and Ice wedding photography, Michelle Ruiz-Pellachini’s atmospheric landscapes, Lex Laine’s underwater shots… there are literally too many to name.  I love supporting other artists and their work and the creative process as a whole. 

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