From toy camera to professional photographer, a Delaware artist’s journey through the lens

Heather Siple is a third generation photographer. A simple peep-hole, mounted to her lens cap opened up a door to a mysterious world.

Heather’s journey began when she was a little girl. Her first camera was a Fisher-Price toy that some of you may actually remember, on one side you could click through a slideshow of animals, the other side was a viewfinder where you could pretend to take pictures. “I never looked at the side with the animals”, says Heather, she always used the viewfinder side and pretended to take photos of everything.

Heather’s father was a big influence, especially in those early days. Whenever they got a roll of film back, Heather would sit with her dad and look through the pictures together. He would critique her work.

“My dad would take a look at it and say, ok well, according to the rule of thirds, and Ansel Adams would have done this”, this was how Heather learned composition. It’s also how she got better.

After always hearing about Ansel Adams’ work, Heather wanted to be Adams when she grew up. It was in high school though when she came to the realization, “Ansel Adams was already Ansell Adams and I needed to be me, so I started taking a more abstract approach” says Heather.

Heather describes her work now as nature based. She takes very close up photographs of the hidden details of the world. She delights in finding ways to use the medium to present stories through her work that show the world at more than face value.

A common peep-hole you may find at a hardware store has opened the door to wondrous, mystical worlds for Heather’s work. She calls the photos ‘Orbs’, and the pictures her lens captures through that peep-hole are full of shadows, strange distortions and odd light effects.

“I started doing landscapes with it and I was like ohhhh and after that i was just hooked”. The effect is that a simple photo of a horse in a meadow looks otherworldly and mysterious. “It reminds me of things that I’ve read as a story, fairy-tales and things like that”, says Heather.

One such picture has Heather and her daughter visiting a park where they found the ruins of an old building and plastic rocking horse. Heather had her daughter hold the rocking horse while sitting in a window of the ruins. When Heather looked at the negative later on, she was amazed at what she found.

“There’s this monstrous face in the plaster. It’s like a goblin or something trying to get her, its really wild its got this fairy tale kind of feel to it”, says Heather.

You may also notice most of Heather’s pictures are in black and white, that is by design too. According to Heather when you look at one of these photographs, you are less likely to automatically identify what you are looking at, the real becomes unreal, fantastical, or mythical. It lets your mind wander to fill in the gaps to the story Heather is working to tell.

“When you do black and white it take away that sense of instant reality and it emphasizes the moods the shadows the shapes”.

Heather tries to focus on the tiny details when she is taking pictures, a simple flower on a trail, a leaf on a rock, things you may just step over, Heather makes the focus of her work. “Ill try and infuse some kind of fantasy theme to it, just exploring and get the sense of innocence and the sense of fantasy and wonder”, says Heather.

“I like people looking at things and going, wow I never thought of it that way, I never saw it that way before”.


You can learn more about Heather’s work when you visit her on the web.


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