Last year as I entered her studio (it also doubles up as her home) I could sense a sort of a mystical energy pervading the place.
Sherry (Luna), a Charlotte (North Carolina)based photographer has a very intriguing persona. She shoots everything, ranging from portraits to landscapes but what makes her style even more interesting is her expertise in IR (Infra-Red) photography. Her love for mystical cultures is evident in her work.
In our interview with her, she describes her journey, her memories of the first camera gifted to her by her mother and how photography is mainly an outlet for her creative energy and not just a money-making business.
Q. Welcome to DigiKarma. Let’s start with who you are, where is home?
Sherry – Wow! About me? I’ve never been comfortable with talking about myself because I never know where to start.I grew up in California and Arizona. I was a straight “A” student. I was equally adept at Math, my favorite subject, followed by music. I played the violin, clarinet, and flute. When I moved to North Carolina in the mid 70’s I moved to a small coastal town. It was hot and humid and OMG the mall closed at noon in the middle of the week so everyone could go to church. Coming from Los Angeles a city that never shuts down, So many things were shocking. I had never heard of “blue laws”, “dry county”, or “brown bagging”, these Blue Laws were strange, to say the least. Anyway, I lived on the coast for several years before moving to Raleigh. I tried to move back to Los Angeles but found I liked the slower lifestyle of NC so I moved back. On my way back to NC I stopped in Asheville and fell in love with the town. So I stayed and lived there for many years. I came to Charlotte for my job. I had found my creative outlet when I started taking photos.
Q. What’s your current state of Mind?
Sherry – Hmm. The current state of mind? I’m not sure how to answer that as I don’t know the context you are asking the question in, but since this is about photography I’ll start there …My creativity ebbs and flows as some as often happens to everyone. Recently I started working on an idea that is taking me towards greater creativity.
Q. Who inspires you in the world of Photography??
Sherry – Oh that’s easy. I am a huge fan of Horst P. Horst. his Portraits are breathtaking. I am also a huge fan of Dorothea Lang her images tell the story of life’s despair during the Great Depression. The last person who inspires me is Ansel Adams, his landscapes are fabulous
Q. Moving on to IR photography?? What exactly is it?
Sherry – IR is a range of light that is not visible to the human eye. IR, or infrared, photography has been around forever, but when I first started shooting Black& white IR it was in film form. IR film is very temperamental and often frustrating but when it works it works & the images are beautiful and ethereal. IR film is also very expensive since there is no guarantee of getting even a single image.
So here comes the digital age and a friend told me about digital IR. What??? You could take IR images with a handheld camera and they would be sharp. Whoa!!!! Sign me up.
A company called Life Pixels can convert your digital SLR to infrared. The downside being, once you converted you cannot convert back to normal cameras. A friend of mine had converted two of his cameras and was kind enough to sell me one. Woo hoo.
The digital IR camera only sees black, white and blue. Landscapes look like a fantasy land where everything that is green becomes Snow White & blue skies.
Portraits are different. I shoot IR portraits only in the studio so I can control the light. Portraits taken in sunlight will not produce the blue hair you get with studio lighting.
Tattoos are very Interesting to shoot in IR because the nature of IR is such that it will only detect the black, white or blue, so a full-color tattoo will only be of these three colors. The blacks are extraordinary
The other thing I like about IR portraits is that most people’s skin is like alabaster& blemishes disappear while the skin looks as smooth as glass.
Q. Do you have a particular genre or style you prefer to shoot?
Sherry – Yes, I have two. I love old Hollywood 1930-1950 glamor when women dressed up in elegant gowns and men in tuxedos and three piece suits. It was a time when the average woman wore a dress and heels to clean the house.
I also like shooting fantasy/gothic images as these fit very well with IR.
Q. Do you have any favorite camera or lens??
Sherry – Yes. Actually, my mother bought my first camera, a Nikon FA, which I still possess. Since I started with Nikon I’ve just stayed with them because the lens is not interchangeable with other brands. My favorite lens… I have two, my 85mm, it is sharp and my 24-70mm, it’s very versatile.
Q. How important is photoshop for you??
Sherry – It’s very important. I do a lot is composite images so without Photoshop it would be impossible.I know of a couple of old-school film photographers who could manipulate negatives like we use photoshop. You should look them up. Jerry Ulesman and Aubrey Bodine. They were masters of their craft.
Q. Where do you get ideas from? What inspires you?
Sherry – Everything inspires me. For example, a group of friends and I went out to a local winery to have lunch. They were serving bone-in pork chops and while we were eating I started looking at the bones and my friends said uh oh! Sherry is going to do something with the bones. Yep, I had a vision and asked the cook to give me as many bones as he could- I went home with a huge bag of bones. Lol.
With social media, facebook, Google, etc., it is easy to see just how talented people are. There are numerous people who inspire me so many exceptional talents out there who make me want to be a better photographer.
Q. In an ideal world who would you want to shoot or just spend time with??
Sherry – I am fascinated by the images of Trey Ratcliffe and Paco Peregrin
As for models….I’ve shot some really great local talent, one of whom has gone on to become an international model, however, if I were to choose someone famous I think I would like to shoot Twiggy when she first burst on the scene. I’d love to spend time in the darkroom with Aubrey Bodine and Jerry Ulesman to learn how they did (do) what they do.
Q. What advice will you give for beginners who want to pursue photography?
Sherry – Be patient, ask others for help on how to do something you don’t know how to do. Never think you know it all, and look at other people’s work. The goal is not to copy them verbatim, but to be inspired by them.
Q. What’s your process flow for a shoot?
Sherry – Wow. The process flow. That’s tough, it’s never the same twice & I am definitely NOT a technical photographer. Basically, an idea or vision pops into my head and I start the process of costuming, selecting the model(s), hair stylist and makeup artist.
I have gotten to a point in my photography that I know the image I am after and once I get the shot I’m done. Sometimes I get the image in five shots sometimes twenty sometimes it takes a hundred, but I just don’t see the need for shooting 500 images if it’s not necessary. Besides being a waste of time, I don’t like sifting through unnecessary images just to get one maybe two good ones. It’s about quality, not quantity.
Q. PC or MAC ??
Sherry – Well. I currently have a PC I had built & it’s a gaming computer. Why? you may ask… Gamers are always on the cutting edge for fabulous graphics so I wanted great graphics and speed. Now with that said….when this computer has lived out its usefulness there will be a shiny new Mac in its place.
Q. Any book or article you would like to recommend for budding photographers to help them?
Sherry -None in particular but I will say this. Never forget who came before you. Find a book, or google, the history of photography and read about those who pioneered the craft and understand the equipment they used. Even though we have progressed beyond albumen and glass plates, all that we have today in photography we owe to those who came before us.
Q. How do you primarily market your work?
Sherry – I don’t. I have several images in private collections as far away as England. I have also been published in several magazines and had images used in promotions. In the early years it was art galleries, today it is just what people see on the web. I have never wanted this to be more than my creative outlet because once it becomes more than that I will need to create to please others and not myself.
Facebook Page for Sherry’s Photography (@photosbyluna) https://www.facebook.com/Photosbyluna/
Q. Finally do you want to add anything to this beautiful interview that I may have missed?
Sherry – Only that I would love to shoot you again 🙂
Note: This Interview was taken by Ash from DigiKarma.
Facebook Page for Ash (@officiallyAsh)