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best of 2015
Vicky Stromee
Tucson, Arizona

Vicky Stromee's imagery is inspired by the lessons of the natural environment. She finds solace in the ever-changing constitution of the natural world and the transformation of objects into forms, colors and textures.

© Vicky Stromee

© Vicky Stromee


Stromee says she is in awe of “clients who pick up the pieces of a broken life and find a regenerated purpose” and of “peace initiatives in war-torn areas where someone steps forward to say `enough' and turns to forgiveness rather than vengeance.”

ASMP: According to your artist statement, one way you use photography is as a means for observing transformation. What types of transformation inspire your work?

Vicky Stromee: Thanks to my training as a psychotherapist, I have witnessed the transformation of the human spirit. I am in awe of resilient clients who pick up the pieces of a broken life and find a regenerated purpose.

The natural metaphors of transformation are abundant: the caterpillar to butterfly, the aging process and changing states of matter, to name a few. In my work I seek out places where a close-up view of a known object reveals new patterns of color, texture and form. I'm inspired by the edges of things: where land meets sea, rock becomes earth and sky becomes cloud.

The natural environment shows us that all things change. Transformation starts the moment something comes into being, hurtling towards disintegration and then resurrecting in a new form. For me, this is a promise of renewal and a reminder of my connection to everything else.

ASMP: Where do you travel to photograph landscapes and nature? What are some of your favorite locations to shoot?

VS: I'm fortunate to call the Southwest home. It is a harsh natural environment, yet it is filled with plants and animals that have adapted to thrive. Rock formations sculpted by wind and water, cumulonimbus clouds and exotic plants with outrageous flowers have all been fodder for my lens.

I am mesmerized by the waters of the Pecos River, just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm often out there for hours, watching jeweled forms emerge, transform and dissipate.

I'm a frequent visitor to the Pacific Northwest; the skies are saturated with moisture, the colors are muted and the land is covered in carpets of moss, ferns and trees.

Of all the places I love to travel, though, it is the process of getting there that I love the most. The journey offers me the opportunity to capture vast landscapes of clouds and mountain tops from the sky.

ASMP: What is unique about your style/approach?

VS: My curiosity and attention to detail. I am fascinated by texture, pattern, fluidity and change. I tap into the sense of wonder that is evoked by a kinship with natural forces.

ASMP: Are there any particular photographers or other artists whose work inspires you?

VS: David H. Wells and Mary Virginia Swanson have been instrumental in helping me cultivate a critical eye. I am also drawn to the work of contemporary photographers like Kate Breakey, Lisa M. Robinson, Ken Rosenthal, Eddie Solloway and Aline Smithson because their vision captures an ethereal nature. I am also a member of Shootapalooza, a group of extraordinary artists. I am constantly inspired by their creativity and commitment to craft, which pushes me to explore my growing edges as an artist.

ASMP: What is the concept behind your series, "Dreams of Flight?"

VS: For as long as I can remember I've been able to fly, and not just in the conventional sense. My earliest memories are of levitating off the ground and moving freely of my own volition. As I grew, I was taught that such things weren't possible. Yet in dreams, I continued to fly over vast arid and mountainous landscapes and cityscapes. At this grand scale I felt unburdened by sadness and doubt. In these moments I am in the dream, fully engaged, fully awake; a part of, not separate from. Solace granted, I return to earth subtly healed and ready to engage once more.

I am fascinated with the natural world. When I slow down and watch, life unfolds its mysteries. Things that are familiar to me give way to fields of color, shape, and texture. In "Dreams of Flight," I am looking to capture those elusive moments of transition by exploring the natural metaphor reflected in fluid and static atmospheric moments. In quantum physics, everything is in flux: mere shape-shifting energy fields that become frozen in a fixed state only when a method of observation is selected. For me, the camera is my means of capture. These still images, combined into triptychs, suggest transition and change, reflecting the ebb and flow of an internal world mirrored in the natural tides of life.

ASMP: What was your post-production process for "Dreams of Flight" like? How much was shot in-camera?

VS: These images are almost entirely in-camera. They are shot using a Nikon D3X full-frame sensor with either a Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di lens or AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm lens. I optimize and crop the images using Adobe Lightroom.

ASMP: Your work has been represented by a few different galleries since the start of your career. What qualities do you deem most important to have in a gallerist-photographer partnership?

VS: Beyond a mutually beneficial financial arrangement and a respect for my artistic vision, I look for the gallerist's ability to translate that vision to potential buyers. It's my job to be professional in the execution of the final object, timely delivery, and responsive communication. I've been working with Cynthia Byrnes at the website art+intertiors for many years and it's a great fit. They represent a curated selection of artists in all media, including paint, sculpture and photography, through a specialized web-interface for design consultants. I'm able to produce extremely large images of abstract work that fits well with their clientele.

I also appreciate that Waxlander Gallery, a paint and sculpture gallery in Santa Fe that decided to expand into photography, gave me an opportunity for a year of exposure. Beginning in September, I'll be represented by Ben Breard's Afterimage Gallery in Dallas. This gallery focuses exclusively on fine-art photography both through a physical gallery and online presence.

ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member? What initially prompted you to join?

VS: I joined ASMP in 2008 at the prompting of Mary Virginia Swanson, who said "this is your professional organization, you've got to join." I attended several events hosted by the local chapter and found a home with others for whom photography is a career and a passion.

ASMP: What has made you stay an ASMP member?

VS: I value the work ASMP does on my behalf. ASMP has been a strong voice for copyright protection, making sure intellectual property is protected and usage properly reimbursed. They remain on the cutting edge of changes happening in the field, the explosion of multimedia content and education on marketing yourself, professional presentation and establishing business practices. I also value the opportunities for networking nationally. ASMP is a reliable resource that I can turn to. And of course, I get great discounts on equipment and supplies through my membership.