For Dover, Ohio classic portrait artist Christine Walsh-Newton, working with people is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a photographer, so it would seem rather curious that her Sunset Award-winning print, “Alabaster Aster,” is something as simple – yet geometrically stunning – as a flower. “Working with people is great, I get to interact with them, but as a photographer, you don’t always have 100% control,” Walsh-Newton says. “Sometimes I just want to chill. Photographing flowers is sort of a means of meditation for me.”
Adding more meaning to her choice is the history of the Fuji Mum (in the Aster family) that is the subject of her winning piece. It was part of a bouquet given to her by her husband for their 19th wedding anniversary. “I rarely shoot flowers, unless it’s for my own entertainment, but I thought this would make for a great image, especially in black and white,” she says of “Alabaster Aster.” “I like to use alliteration for the titles of my flower pieces, and alabaster is a much more descriptive word than ‘white’, it was perfect for this selection.”
Be it flowers or portraits, you can see the influences of Tim Kelly and Monte Zucker, two pioneers in the field of classic portraiture in her work. “Even though Monte died in 2007, his publications have inspired my growth in portrait work,” she says. “I know it helps to have additional skill sets – educator, author, artist – to differentiate myself from other photographers. I also know that I can’t put all my eggs in one basket. It helps to have multiple areas of expertise. You need find a happy medium between being too specialized and trying to do everything. You don’t want to be single-minded or be a jack of all trades. Studying the works of Tim and Monte have helped me find that middle ground.”
When preparing for competitions, Walsh-Newton capitalizes on her versatile skills and previous experiences to create pieces that score well both emotionally and technically. “I’ve learned over the years that if you get the technical aspects dialed in – the shutter speed, ISO setting, and most importantly, the lighting – then you’ve already met the minimum elements for merit consideration.” Not one to settle for minimums, she emphasizes that the best part comes with the artistic narrative: “When the technical requirements are second nature, you can focus on the creativity and presentation and ensure that your story is being told.”
When it was time for the Professional Photographers of Ohio show, Walsh-Newton wanted the presentation of “Alabaster Aster” to be distinct. For printing, she chose LexJet Sunset Hot Press Rag 310g and then hand-deckled the edges. “I really love the way the image looks on the Sunset paper. It just pops!” she says of the final, show-ready image. “There is something special about black-and-white photography. It’s funny, I want the images to be high key, but I am such a low-key person.”
The juxtaposition works. Whether it’s the lively interaction with clients during portrait sessions or her meditative moments capturing the beauty of Mother Nature’s flowers, Master Photographer Christine Walsh-Newton uses the creativity of black-and-white images to convey her story to the world in a very colorful way.