Nancy Kauffman looks into photos rather than at photos.It's in there that she finds the beginnings of her photo art, 37 works of which comprise a show running through Oct. 28, at the GoggleWorks in Reading, the Fleetwood woman's first show as an artist.
She has worked in advertising and marketing since 1970, and her own one-person, NJM Advertising agency since 1984, "making something of" the photos shot by others in the advertising materials she produces.
More recently she decided to begin "making something of" her own photos, which led to the show she titled, "Visions," because "it's what I see. I look at the photo that I've taken, I see things in it and I want to make it more than what I've captured in the image."
Her process is much more than simply shooting a photo and printing it on glossy photo paper, or even using the basic automatic features in her PhotoShop computer program to slightly enhance the original image.
"I don't want to be a photo retoucher," she explained. "But what I do is not photo retouching.
"I take a photo, then I make a picture. The original photo is just the seed," the beginning of "a lot of experiments. In every photo there is a good picture or two. All you have to do is go look for it."
For two of the 37 pieces in the show Kauffman drew on the same, typical fall woodland photo that we've all shot.
Using PhotoShop, she laid on "several layers of added motion" to produce "Breeze," which she describes as an image of "that perfect autumn day. The sky's still blue. The leaves have fallen." Then, in just one part of the same photo, she found the starting point for "Winter Wind," which she built into a cold, windy, snowy landscape.
The show at the GoggleWorks has shown Kauffman that other people will find additional things in her work, beyond what she envisioned and developed.
"People have different responses to it," she explained. "People are seeing things that I don't see in it."
For other works in the show, Kauffman made multiple prints of the original shot onto different media, such as a clear acrylic sheet for a foreground sandwiched in front of a solid, col ored paper, to produce a 3-D, shadowy effect.
Some of the pieces demanded reworking over and over again, as she added and adjusted layers here, and removed layers there, until she arrived at the image she had envisioned in the original photo.
For "Mother Nurture," a shot of a tree root growing around a large rock, Kauffman explained, "I probably did a hundred different takes on it, but I wasn't getting what I wanted. No matter what I did to the colors, I could-n't get the softness, the warmth that I wanted."
Eventually she found the exact image she was looking for through a sandwiching of layers.
For "Provence CafÃ&Copy;," which portrays the garden patio of a lit tle cafÃ&Copy; in France, Kauffman said, "over months I'd put it away, I'd get it out. I wasn't getting what I wanted."
And, for "Weathered," an image of scattered, dead tree stumps in and around a lake near Mt. Ranier in Washington, she wasn't achieving the cemetery-like feel until by accident she eliminated the color layers for the background, leaving a patch of bright green grass and a few brown-gray stumps in front of a black-and-white background.
In the "Reflections" series, Kauffman created ghost-like mirror-images of a dahlia, Queen Anne's lace and daylily, and combined those with the enhanced color images of the flowers against a dense black background, in a trio of pieces.
"To me, it's like painting," she explained.
And, now that's she has seen some of the "paintings" on display, Kauffman has noticed some things she wants to change.
"It becomes very, very different when you see them on a wall," rather than 37 prints sitting around her home office, she explained. "It's a different perspective."
For those who want to share that perspective, but can't get to GoggleWorks by Oct. 28, a 10-minute video of the show is available on YouTube, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE K-ITa3DTE.
Contact Marcus Schneck at email@example.com.