|SUSAN REYNOLDS, who is featured in a photography
show at the Clayton Library, poses for a portrait at her Walnut
Widening the viewer's
aperture to nature
Those who have contemplated Susan Reynolds' photography have told
her that looking at one of her photographs is like taking a mini vacation.
Whether it is one of her tree portraits, textured sand dunes, wild landscapes,
garden settings or scenes of San Francisco at night, there's a spiritual
quality to Reynolds' work that channels a peace from the heart of the
artist to the soul of the viewer.
She has a serenity about the work that is very calming, says Bob
Hole Jr. of Concord. Hole is a member of the Concord Art Association,
which is sponsoring Reynolds' first one-woman show at Clayton Library
Hole describes Reynolds' photography as extraordinary. "She
is able to paint with light using the camera," he says.
The Clayton Library exhibit features images grouped in three series,
called Death Valley, Night and Wild Landscapes. Since her childhood
spent in Berkeley and Lafayette, Reynolds' life has been profoundly
touched by the calming and beneficial aspects of nature. Her family
hiked every weekend, and growing up she thought that's what everyone
did. On stressful days, she laces up her hiking boots and releases her
stress to the outdoors. On days of personal tragedy, such as the death
of her father and godfather, her first impulse is to surround herself
"It's almost like church for me. It's very healing," she
shares. Reynolds recorded her childhood through a Brownie camera and
in high school spent hundreds of hours in her uncle's Orinda dark room,
experiencing the wonders of black and white photography. She's been
in a three-way relationship with nature and photography ever since.
The founder and president of SR Marketing in Walnut Creek, Reynolds
even infuses the work she does for her marketing and public relations
firm with her passion for nature. Her photographic hobby became a side
career when she started doing professional commercial photography for
landscape architects in 2000.
Suzanne Guthrie, a friend of Reynolds since their days at Stanley Middle
School, says Reynolds has spent the past several years traveling all
over the country to take classes and study the techniques that help
to make a good photographer. The friends go on an annual hiking trip
to the eastern side of the Sierras where Reynolds likes to photograph
the stark landscape.
"She takes tons of photos. Anytime she goes on a trip like that
she is always looking for opportunities to take photographs. It's not
like she's on vacation. She's always looking for something new, or something
she's seen before but wants to photograph it in a new way," Guthrie
"My hope is that even if people don't go to nature, but if they
spend five minutes with one of my photographs, they can unwind a little,"
A self-admitted activist, Reynolds declares on her photography web
site: "If my images cause even a single person to reflect upon
this value, to spend more time creating a relationship with nature,
and to take action on behalf of protecting their favorite wilderness,
all of my photographic energy will have been worth it."
"Having grown up in the Bay Area, I've seen the development
of overcrowding and the pressure on open space," Reynolds explains
the roots of her activism.
|"Palace of Fine Arts" from the night and
photography series by Susan Reynolds on exhibit at the Clayton Library.
Portrait and wedding photographer Michelle Amorin sees Reynolds'
work as a significant, artistic means of documenting nature and the
state of the environment in our time. "Particularly through her
tree portraits, in very creative ways she uses the power and beauty
of nature through her art," Amorin says.
After dissatisfying experiences trying to change the world through
volunteering for large organizations like the Environmental Protection
Agency, Reynolds is now spreading her message one-on-one. On hikes with
her godchildren, she found herself teaching botany, environmental studies
and conservation through conversations she would have with the kids.
Then she invited them to bring cameras and look at the landscape throw
"One-on-one, they're learning about botany, geology and wildlife.
I have seen what a difference this is made with my godson and his sister
and the way they stop and look and ask questions," Reynolds says.
This summer, Reynolds took her teaching to another level when she launched
a successful hiking and photography class for 11-year-olds and their
parents at her church.
"I do a lot of toy marketing through my company, and in 15 years
I've seen the tremendous evolution toward electronic and digital toys,
things that take kids away from nature. Their lives are so speeded up,
they don't have the time or the chance to go out and experience nature.
So if I can do that in a small way with my godkids, my neighbors, my
niece, then hopefully I'm making an impact," Reynolds says.
For more information on the photography of Susan Reynolds, visit her
web site at www.susanreynoldsphotography.com.
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.