Interview with Photographer, Joanne Taylor

Microphone on a stand near a wall with flowers painted on it
Credit: Michael Czyz in

Interview with Photographer, Joanne Taylor

Today at MSS, we are featuring an interview with photographer, Joanne Taylor.

When did the desire to start taking photographs first become real to you?

I think that I have always had the desire to be a photographer – when I was in High School, I had wanted to go on to Art school, but it was not considered a very profitable thing to do then. I was convinced to go into Marketing, but since I was not happy doing that, I actually quit college.

What are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?

I love taking photos of things in nature – birds, dragonflies, flowers, horses, and landscapes. I also love to photograph babies and children.

Credit: Joanne Taylor

Do you prefer sticking with the same subjects for your photographs or do you like to take photos of a variety of subjects?

While I enjoy taking photos of pretty much anything, I do feel I have a closeness and affinity for nature, and that is where I hope I “shine”.

Are you currently working on any new photography projects that you’d like to share with us? What was your inspiration for this project?

Yes, I am. I am working on two projects – one is a project that I am calling “Entrance” … It came to me while I was reading a poem by Rilke – called “Entrance”. While the poem’s meaning has nothing much to do with entering or leaving, it just struck me as a good title for what I had been shooting, and continue to shoot. I think when I am finished shooting, I will then try to find poems to relate to the various photos – doors, windows, entryways, gates. With regard to the second project, it is going to be all infrared photography – as of yet, it remains untitled…but it will be shot mainly in cemeteries.

Did you have a mentor or coach or role model who inspired you as you began your journey with photography?

My mentor in High School was the head of the A.V. Dept – Mr. Victor Fiorino. He taught me the darkroom technique. I really did not have a coach or role model when I first picked up a camera - but I would say that Ansel Adams was a photographer I truly, deeply admired, and Annie Griffiths Belt, who is one of the most talented female landscape photographers around.

When I was in college, I dabbled a little bit with photography and took a few classes. I learned how to develop film and loved the entire process. Now with the age of digital photos, what do you see are the pros and cons of both types of photography?

Wow, for a purist like myself, this is a loaded question! Personally, I adore taking a photograph with my film camera, and bringing it to my darkroom to develop… since I don’t have the option of deleting it and taking it again, it has to be good, the very first “click”.

For me, it’s sort of like Christmas morning … I get the surprise of seeing the “gift” that I was given, in what develops in front of me. I have a feeling that with more and more sophisticated digital equipment, we are going to lose this, eventually. It is becoming harder to find, and more expensive to purchase black and white film and paper… And yes, I do shoot digital.

In 2007, I finally gave in. What I do NOT do, is manipulate/enhance my pictures. I don’t even have Photoshop on my computers. I might crop and sometimes help the contrast a bit, but I have always believed that a truly good photograph is what is in front of the lens, and in my heart, not made by a computer. And I always will.

To me, that is where the “con” lies in the digital age… too many “photographers” are all too willing to manipulate their pictures, to get a “good shot”. To me, that’s not a good shot. It is a con. I think we need to hold ourselves to a better standard. If a photo is heavily manipulated, it should read as such – I know that National Geographic does hold that standard – they will not publish photos that have been extremely manipulated. And while I’ve yet to be published in National Geographic, I am hoping that one day, my dream will come true.

Credit: Joanne Taylor

How would you define success in your industry?

For me, it will be when I am published in National Geographic!!! But in reality, being successful in a highly competitive industry can mean many different things to people. I’ve had the success and joy of seeing my photographs hang in our museum/gallery, of being published in our newspaper, and winning an international contest.

I am slowly building a business (and in this economy, believe me, it’s not easy…), but the thing that makes me feel the most successful is taking a good photograph, by MY standards. Because I think I am the toughest critic of my work, by far.

Could you share some more about your work and where interested readers can view your photography and how they can get in contact with you?

Certainly! I have a Facebook Page J.Taylor Photographic Artist | Facebook where people can connect with me and view photos. They can book photography sessions as well for the following – Photography with an artistic flair, HDR, infrared, B&W, nature, portraits, graduates, weddings, engagements, maternity, newborns, pets, headshots, and more.

Do you have advice for new photographers just starting out in this industry?

Don’t give up. Photography is not, in my opinion, something that can be “taught” – you have to feel it from a place inside yourself. That is something that really can’t be learned. While yes, you need to know what aperture is, what lens and lighting to use, etc., only YOU will be able to tell when the moment is right, to “click it”. Trust your instinct.

What’s your schedule like…When do you find the time to pursue your passion of photography or are you full-time in this business?

I am a very lucky lady – my husband supports my photography, 100%. I would not say that I work full-time, but I am a full-time photographer. My cameras go with me everywhere I go. I am always in search of that photo that will be the “it” of my career… the one that gets published by – you know who…

Do you have a favorite photographer?

Ansel Adams. Hands down, his work is awe-inspiring and brings me to a place I can’t even explain. One of my favorite photos is his winter shot of El Capitan, in Yosemite…What more can I say…


About the Photographer

I am 54 years old. I grew up in Fort Lee, NJ. When I was in High School, I was a four-year member of the A-V Club and learned all about darkroom techniques, and photography. In 2001, we moved to Virginia - we live about 35 minutes from the Beach. My life has been blessed with seven children – four are natural-born, and three are from marriage. They, in turn, have blessed me with eight grandchildren, and counting… Becoming a mother was, and is, my greatest accomplishment. My family is my world. I enjoy watching my grandkids when I am able to, and relish being able to spoil them rotten with love, love, and more love. My favorite hobbies are gardening with my husband, music, reading, and horseback riding. My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years, and are looking forward to the “retirement” age – although I doubt we will actually “retire”… I’m sure there will always be “something else” to do… such as travel!