About The Artist - Paula J Hepner

About the Artist

My interest in photography began when my aunt from Philadelphia visited us. She would bring along the newest piece of camera equipment she had purchased and would eagerly explain what each item could do. While the rest of our family was taking snapshots with their Kodak Brownies, she was sporting two 35mm cameras, a Polaroid land camera and a Super 8 movie camera and projector. When I was named Photography Editor for my high school yearbook, my aunt loaned me her Argus C3 and taught me how to use it. And that is how this very special, life-long journey began.


I continued looking at the world through the lens of a camera but did not seriously explore photography as a means of creative expression until I graduated from college and got my first full-time job. With the help of my roommate's father, who went with me to Willoughby's on 33rd Street in Manhattan, I selected the best 35mm camera I could buy with my resources at the time. It was through him I learned about Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Bernice Abbott and Eliot Porter, each of whom mentored me though they never knew it. I read everything they wrote and saw every exhibit of their work that I could. It wasn’t long until I found my way to a Rolleiflex and the 2-1/4 format. I eventually took photography classes at The New School including black and white printmaking with George Tice and set up a darkroom in my one bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village.


After pursuing a successful legal career, first as a lawyer and then as a Judge of the New York State Family Court, I retired in order to rediscover the joy of communicating through photography. Returning to photography after a hiatus of nearly 30 years, gone were the rolls of film in metal canisters and the darkroom's amber safelights. Working now with a digital SLR, I am occupied with studying each available pixel of information that makes up my images and with learning the intricacies of the leading software programs for editing and finishing my photos on a computer screen instead of timing how long the photo paper will remain in the solutions of developer and fixer I once learned to concoct. Like my mentors, my subjects are the natural world, architecture, still life and landscapes.


The creation of every photograph is a mysterious process. It begins the moment a subject is seen by the artist, then framed in the viewfinder and the camera's settings are chosen. What the final result will be, once the shutter is tripped, depends on how the light was captured at that moment. The quality and content of the  image initially captured is the only material a photographer has to work with in the darkroom or the desktop. Light is the magic element in every photograph. Light defines every image far more than the content in the frame. Light gives the image texture, contrast, mood, color, character, depth, space and drama.  It makes each photograph dance, sing, cry, speak or laugh.

Photo credit Barbara Douglas


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