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Interview: Elizabeth Gadd Perfectly Captures Tranquility in Nature

By Sarah Ann Loreth October 28, 2015
Elizabeth Gadd blurs the line between portrait and landscape photography which leaves us longing for the peace of quiet solitude only nature can provide. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Lizzy, her passion for chocolate, dogs and exploring will instantly warm your heart as she whisks you away on another grand adventure near her home in British Columbia. Together with her adventure dog Pepper, Lizzy captures the beauty of her travels while creating a body of work that shows an incredible appreciation for the natural world. Her photos calm the soul and urge us all to get out and explore the beauty the world has to offer.
We were grateful to catch up with Lizzy for a Behind The Lens look into her dreamy photography.
Tell us a bit about your journey into photography?
I've always been into art. It was drawing and painting growing up, and then in 2007 I fell in love with photography, taking photos of flowers and landscapes and animals everywhere I went. By the time 2010 rolled around, I wanted to challenge myself further with photography. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take a creative self-portrait every day for the entire year. Towards the end of this "365 project", I discovered my niche in the photography world: the combination of my beloved nature and landscapes with the added human element, showcasing the beauty of solitude in nature... often in a storytelling, whimsical or peaceful kind of way.
What are some of your interests?
I rather enjoy hiking and camping as much as possible, and will passionately jump on any opportunity to travel and see the world. Other interests also include eating chocolate and adventuring with my dog.
What inspires you?
Beauty in nature is my biggest inspiration. The dancing fog on rainy mountains, the still reflective lakes in early mornings, the quiet peace found in mossy forests, the shards of light that burst through clouds to touch the ocean, the aurora borealis flashing across a starry sky... It's these things that get my heart pumping and fill me with inspiration. Not just inspiration to shoot photos, but to keep looking for beauty everywhere and to openly embrace each moment, living fully.
What was the first photograph that really made you proud to be a photographer?
Although I was quite happy with my earlier photographs and liked them enough to keep taking photos, I think the first time I really felt "pride" for my work was after the morning I took this self-portrait, "Be Still". Of course I don't take nearly full credit for that photo, rather I give that credit to all the elements of nature that came together so perfectly in that moment... The fog, the glassy still lake, the floating geese in the distance, the water rippling perfectly where I stood... But that was the first photo where I can say I felt a tingle of pride at having been the person to capture the moment!
Take us through a typical day of shooting.
Shoots are usually quite random and spontaneous for me. I bring my camera gear with me on every adventure, but I usually embark on such adventures with no plan or ideas... Sometimes I come back with no photos, having just enjoyed the day looking at the scenery through my own eyes rather than through a camera lens. And then other times inspiration will suddenly whack me in the face and I'll suddenly see the perfect opportunity for a new photo. Most of my photos are self-portraits. I love shooting alone in quiet solitude, and find the shooting process rather therapeutic. I set up my camera on a tripod, aim and focus it where I intend to be, and then I go to that spot and stand or sit or dance or just overall be a complete dork while holding down the shutter release on my wireless remote and hope for the best results!
What is your favorite shooting location?
I don't think I could choose one favourite above another, I love all the locations I've ever shot in. But easily my most frequented location would be Golden Ears Provincial Park, for the simple reason that it's super close to my house. It's nice being able to look out the window and see what the weather's doing on the mountains, and think, "Dang, those clouds and mist on those mountains look super cool today! I better get my butt out to that park right now and take photos!".
What challenges have you faced while creating?
The weather. Racing it to catch the perfect light, getting caught in a downpour of rain or hail, battling the wind that tries to knock over my tripod, or simply freezing to death in the snow or under a waterfall or walking into a lake in the dead of winter... it's usually always the weather and elements of nature that is my biggest challenge, but I'm a sucker for it. The more dramatic the weather, the more dramatic the photos, right?
What's a must have in your gear bag?
Chocolate is usually the most important must-have. But also my wireless shutter release remote - it makes shooting self-portraits much easier, being able to take photos from a long distance rather than running back and forth for the self timer.
How much post processing goes into a completed photo?
I like to spend a fair bit of time playing around with each photo in Adobe Lightroom - tweaking tones and colours and adjusting the light and contrast, and sometimes blurring out the background to draw more focus towards the subject. I'll often play around like this for ages until a photo looks exactly how I want it... However, I usually try to stay away from over-editing and compositing with my work (that being said, experimenting with that can still be fun!)... I like to bring out my photos to their best potential, while still keeping them as real as possible.
How do you choose your models?
As mentioned earlier, most of my photos are self-portraits. But there are often times when I have close friends with me while shooting, and I'll enjoy changing things up and having my friends model for me instead. It all just depends on who's there at the right moment!
If you could define your style, what would you call it?
When I was first asked this question a few years ago, all I could immediately come up with was, "Uh... landscapey-type photos... with people in them...". To this day I haven't been able to come up with a better "name" to define my photos.
What would be your dream location?
It's hard to choose one specific dream location, there are so many places I have dreams of shooting in. All over Canada, Norway, Italy, Patagonia, Iceland, Nepal, Switzerland, and many more... My dream location is anywhere the beautiful and strange landscapes are. Somehow I am mostly drawn to the colder mountainous places, but I do also dream of shooting in tropical or desert-like places too!
What are your plans for the future?
To keep taking photos, to go about life with an open mind, to embrace opportunities as they come, to travel as often as possible, to be kind whenever possible, and to keep looking for beauty in the world, starting each day with fresh eyes.

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