Photographer finds extraordinary details in ordinary scenes
A photo of a plane sitting on the tarmac is… a photo of a plane sitting on the tarmac. But zoom in on the plane’s turbine engine, and the picture is transformed into something altogether new and different. Or, instead of capturing an entire car in the viewfinder, focus on just the front of the vehicle—and the view becomes a wonder of geometric shapes, angles, and plays of light.
Discovering these unusual perspectives is what Holly Moore loves. The avid, award-winning photographer considers photography “kind of like a treasure hunt. And to me it’s going out for the day and finding those hidden gems—things that other people don’t see.”
But she didn’t figure this approach out immediately. It took time to learn the art of photography and home in on her photographic niche.
Holly bought her first 35mm camera when she and her husband were living on a sailboat—a lifestyle rife with photo opportunities. “We sailed the Bahamas for a year,” Holly says, “then came back to the states and sailed along the eastern coastline and back down to Florida.” She took lots of pictures, yet the camera was not digital, and even though it had manual settings, she “always kept it on Program” rather than experiment with the settings.
After moving to Sun City in 2005, however, Holly decided it was time to get serious about photography as an art—she “was on a mission.” She joined the Sun City Photography Club the following year and stepped up her equipment, purchasing a digital SLR and two other lenses, a wide angle and a zoom. Next, she began taking classes at the club and going to all the meetings. At each meeting, members could show two of their photos to the group and get feedback. Holly says, “This was all new to me, and I was fascinated.” She laughs, recalling that when members asked her what kind of photography she did, she had no idea how to answer.
Holly also became a member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and took three of the society’s online courses: basic photographic instruction, the history of photography, and an image analysis course. Holly explains that “the basics are so important.” She challenges herself “to try and get that picture that’s a work of art without Photoshop.” Though she agrees that photo software is a wonderful tool, she thinks some people rely too much on “fixing” the photo after the fact, rather than attempting to capture a great photo from the get-go.
Between the coursework and camera work, Holly has learned so much. “It’s taken me years to kind of figure out what I like,” she says, but she knows now that she’s especially drawn to color and geometric images. One photo of mailboxes earned her the PSA title of Print of the Month in October of 2012. Most people would not see three metal boxes nailed to a wooden post as a photo op, but Holly did. It just took a unique angle—shooting from the ground, looking up at them—and suddenly the mailboxes, standing out against the blue sky and accented by a foreground of willowy yellow flowers, captivate the viewer. She’d struck gold!
At the other end of the spectrum, Holly also loves black and white photos. She notes that “a really nice black and white is timeless” and that “the details, lighting, shapes and forms, and shadows” can really pop in a well-done piece.
Holly also enjoys photography competition, arguing that “it teaches you humility, a sense of achievement and pride in your work, motivation to keep trying to create those winning results, and the knowledge that someone really likes your picture. How cool is that!” But she understands that it’s not the easiest thing for some photographers to do, so in 2009 she started the Competition Special Interest as a division of the Sun City Photography Club.
Holly enters PSA salons (contests) regularly, as well as local competitions, and has had many successes. In July of 2012, her “Floral Fantasy” won the People’s Choice Award at Framer’s Gallery here in Georgetown. Another floral photo beat out more than four hundred entries to win a Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center contest, and her photos have been featured in Hill Country Alliance Calendars.
In addition to competing, Holly exhibits her work locally. Currently, she has photos hanging in the Sun City Activity Center, the Scott & White Round Rock Hospital Admittance rooms, and the Scott & White Physical Therapy Clinic. In April and May, she’ll have thirty-five pieces on exhibit at the St. David’s Healing Arts Gallery in Georgetown.
Someday, if she loses the urge to compete, Holly says she’d “like to do some photo books, maybe a book of florals or one on Texas.” For now, she still enjoys competing, exhibiting, and of course finding and shooting those photo gems. She advises, “The more you shoot, the better you get. You’ve got to keep your camera out. Take it with you wherever you go. And read the camera manual a lot!”
By Karen Pollard