More Than Point-&-Shoot!
“I was just one of those people who took a simple camera and did ‘point-and-shoot,’ said Jennifer Semro, the Artist of the Month at The Fort Myers Beach Public Library for October and November. “ That was pretty much it,” recalled the native of Elmhurst, Illinois, 20 miles west of Chicago. “I found photography fascinating, but had no intention of becoming a professional photographer!”
Photography intrigued her enough that roughly seven years ago Jennifer took classes from the Ritz Camera Centers in Naples, “where Frank Berna, a professional, taught. I learned about the craft, and next thing you knew I acquired a more advanced camera I had no idea how to use so, so I took more classes, and that is how it all began. Now I belong to the DPI-SIG Naples Digital Photography Club that has over 300 members, and that’s where I acquired most of my additional education.”
Jennifer says that DPI-SIG “is very active, doing all kinds of things, so I find the best person with the most knowledge of what I want to learn, then l get their permission to just hang out with them and learn what they do. Before I got into this, I thought if you were a photographer, you just pointed the camera, but it is not like that at all; you must know about location and lighting and backgrounds and all kinds of things, including patience to wait for the right shot.”
She describes patience “as one of my biggest weaknesses, as I continuously try to learn to be more patient, and that is hard! You must wait for the right moment to come to you, and you always have to be ready, and then the time has to be right; I can’t tell you how often I will see a magnificent eagle in flight while driving, and there is no way to suddenly stop and get that shot, so things have to line up. One thing photography does is it makes me more aware of my surroundings, as I am not a detail person, where photography requires you to be detail-oriented, so I am much better about that now.”
“Where I Go, Goes My Camera”
Jennifer does all her own framing, “as to me that is the biggest part of photography. Depending on how you frame and mat a photo, you can have the same shot look completely different in two or three settings – it is really amazing! If you do not have a good frame, you do not have a good photograph. That is what is so much fun about photography – you see one thing, then through the framing-and-matting process, you discover something completely different. This is my kind of thing, and what I really like.”
When asked her favorite locations, Jennifer signs deeply: “Oh, Lord! I photographed the wild stallions at The Outer Banks so that has a soft spot in my heart. Key West was great, and I just returned from a terrific trip to Chicago. The Bahamas, where I photographed wild spotted dolphins, stands out, as the water is so beautiful it looks like someone painted it! I have photography in mind when I make travel destinations; my recent Chicago trip I planned for over a year, so pretty much anywhere I go, I have photography in the back of my mind; where I go, goes my camera!”
When selecting locations, “l am not a world traveler, and I don’t like to fly, so most are within driving distance. There are so many beautiful places, and I look forward to actually going back to where I already took photos, because there is always something you did not get the last time. Plus, I like to think I grow as a photographer, so shots you thought were good a few years back are unsatisfying now, so you want to return to get them right.” Jennifer is planning another trip to the Carolinas, “to photograph church interiors, to make that a new portfolio.”
Jennifer does not specialize in any one genre: “I started out doing photos of people’s dogs and some cats; dogs will work with you for about a half hour before they get bored with you, but cats are tough – they see the camera and turn and run! Now, however, I branch out into many topics, including nature and photographs of Blues artists, as I love that music!”
Thrilled By The Opportunity
She is excited about her two-month display at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library, through Wednesday, November 29: “Shows like this are what I really like, because rather than setting up your works for one day, then taking them all down, here you put them up once and they remain for an extended time, and that’s wonderful. I have a similar relationship with the First Presbyterian Church on Bonita Beach Road, where they cater to the artistic community.”
Jennifer’s display ended up at the library due to her association with DPI-SIG: “The club actually had a group show at the Library several months back, but I was not a part of it,” she related. “In our newsletter, Kathy DelBalzo from the Library said if any individual members would like to host a gallery display to contact her, and I jumped all over that. They approved me for October, with another member for November, but that person had an issue, so Kathy asked me to extend it, which I am happy to do! I am absolutely thrilled by this opportunity, and hope everyone likes it.”
In addition to photography, Jennifer operates Critter Sitters. “That began in 1994, when my daughter on vacation needed someone to care for her two dogs, then friends brought me pets to make a little extra money, and it evolved into a fulltime business. I take dogs into my house, as it is better for them than being in a cage, as they have other dogs with whom they can play and a yard for exercise. I interview all prospective clients, to make sure the animal will get along and has all its shots. Everyone thinks strange dogs automatically fight, but they are social animals who sleep most of the time!”
As for her photography, Jennifer most enjoys “getting that shot where you are in the right place at the right time, with the right set-up, where everything comes together and it all pays off. If there is a frustration, you don’t know if you have the shot until you download everything onto the computer, and sort through hundreds of images to find that one special photo. I am not very methodical so that is my least favorite thing by far!”
To learn about Jennifer’s magnificent work, attend the Library’s “Meet the Artist” Reception on Wednesday, November 1, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. For information on Jennifer, contact her at 239-947-8638, email at crittersitters.net, or see her Facebook page. For the Library, go to www.fmb.lib.fl.us or call 239-765-8162. The Library is at 2755 Estero Boulevard; hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Sunday and holidays including Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, and Thanksgiving.