Debbi Gunn, Fresno, CA

Debbi Gunn
How long have you been a photographer?

Two and a half years.

What first piqued your interest in photography? 

I started taking photos as a way to calm and control some of the effects I experience due to Tourette’s syndrome. It was simply a blessing to me and I grew to enjoy the process of taking photos more and more, but as close friends and ward members expressed their appreciation for my work, I had a desire to use the talent that had blessed me to bless others.

What is your photography forte?

I strive to capture the ordinary moments of life that are actually extraordinary. An old car, the depth of bricks making a building, and the way the grass flies from a lawn mower can be rich with stories that are normally hidden and don't require words. 

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

Be ready at every moment and make sure your batteries are charged, because the more you take photos, the better your eye will be trained to capture that which Heavenly Father wants you to see.

What do you love about photography?

There is nothing better than being stuck in a negative and seeing what develops. Sometimes the negative stays just that: a negative you delete. But every once in a while, when you least expect it, you look at something and you know that it's special. You almost instantly feel your heart and eyes smile. You have captured a moment. As soon as you've captured it, it becomes priceless. Moments are fleeting, so if you can capture them, hold onto them. Treasure these moments every time you look at the photo of it, for each one was sent special just for you; it was touched and created by the hands of your Heavenly Father, then sent with His unconditional, never-ending, and limitless love.

Where is your favorite location to shoot?

I have two favorite places to shoot. I can spend hours at the beach shooting the waves. Keep in mind that each wave is different, and once it crashes there will never be another that will have the same characteristics—the way the waves roll towards the shoreline, the colors, and the strength with which the water crashes into the rocks.

The other place I love to shoot is the different zoos. If you have the patience to wait, you can catch some wonderful shots of the animals, from the intense look on a tiger's face to an elephant playing with a toy, all the while smiling as though he has having the time of his life. There is nothing better than being able to catch the priceless expressions on friends' faces as they touch stingrays or feed the giraffes for the first time.

What advice would you give to new photographers?

If photography is a talent and a gift that Heavenly Father has given you, then you are blessed beyond words. Heavenly Father took your interest, something you simply liked, and turned it into something you love and have more than likely become passionate about. So with that said, embrace it. Breathe it in deeply and enjoy every minute of it. As you're taking photos, listen for that still, small voice to guide you, because Heavenly Father gave you this talent and He will show you what you need to see. Be open minded to that. You will see the world so differently, and as you see things through Heavenly Father's eyes, your subjects will become more awe inspiring and amazing to you! Even the smallest and most unique things will be beautiful. Always be thankful for the wonderful gift of photography that He has placed in your life, even when you spend a whole day taking photos and not a single one turns out right, for that is when He is more than likely teaching patience, perseverance, and a measure of humility. No words are needed to describe your photos, because what you have captured is something touched by Heavenly Father, and it will tell its own story. 

Where is your dream location to shoot?

I would love the opportunity to take photos in Ireland—the lush green hills and valleys, the castles that are rich in history, and the cottages that have that quaint feel of home and old-as-time stories.

How important is Photoshop in your final image? 

The most I ever do to a photo is to slightly adjust the contrast and take out a few of the shadows and highlights. That's it!

—Debbi


David Winters, Georgia, USA

David Winters
How long have you been a photographer?

Thirty+ years is the short answer. In 8th grade, I was a yearbook photographer at my junior high school. It was soon after that experience that I bought my first SLR camera—a Nikon FM. With the invention of digital cameras, I’ve become more and more passionate about the hobby and would now call myself a serious amateur.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

My older brother, Mark, was really into photography as a teenager. I caught the bug from him. It has always fascinated me that you can “capture light” with a little device and have time stand still through a photograph.

What is your photography forte?

Capturing life within our family is my biggest forte—and my most enjoyable one. I love the memories that can be captured. My children’s lives are well documented. They are used to their dad sticking a camera in front of them at all moments of the day. I’m not the best journal writer, but my life is well documented through my photos.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

A few things stand out. First is to not be afraid to fill the frame with faces. Sometimes the most dramatic photos are simply the subtle expressions and beauty of a face—with no other distractions in the photo. If I were to add two more, it would be to physically get on the same level as your children and to try to capture them in natural settings. Everyone loves to see candid shots more than traditionally posed ones.

What about photography inspires you?

I love how photographs can bring out emotional responses in us. I was the student body photographer in my high school many years ago and in that role was responsible for creating slide shows celebrating the people and events of that school year. There was a palpable response to many of the images. I get that same type of response as I share photos with friends and families today through Facebook or through submitting my photos for use by the Church. I love having a hobby that can help people feel a little more joy in their lives.

Where is your favorite location to shoot?

I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one location. Conceptually, I love to photograph people as they connect with the outdoors. Whether that is taking a portrait of a friend or family member in a rose or vegetable garden, or of my family hiking in Georgia or Switzerland, or of strangers in Central Park in New York City, I love to show how we connect with this world, where we are so privileged to live during mortality.

What advice would you give to new photographers?

Take photos with your camera in manual mode until you really understand how the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO all work together in creating your images.

How important are photo editing tools in your final image?

This is really important if you are trying to maximize the artistic value of an image. I remember seeing an Ansel Adams exhibit in San Francisco where two images were shown side by side. The first image showed his famous print of “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” The contrast, beauty, and composition of the image were breathtaking. The second print was the same scene, but without any darkroom techniques applied. If it hadn’t been the same scene, I would have never guessed that it was taken by the famous photographer. It looked nothing like the final image. For truly artistic photos, some “post-processing” work generally needs to be done. An important first step is to shoot in RAW format. Shooting in RAW format gives you so much more control of an image than a compressed format like JPG will give you. Then the image can be edited in any number of products like Photoshop or Lightroom 4. I primarily use Aperture 3 and Nik Software to edit mine.

Where is your dream location to shoot?

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to many “dream” locations like Switzerland, Alaska, Maine, Yosemite, and so on. One of my favorite spots, though, is a little wooded area near our home called Simpsonwood. Elder Perry spoke in general conference a few years ago about Walden Pond and how that was the place where he and his wife would retreat to talk and find relief from life’s problems. Simpsonwood is our special place. Our whole family will often go there for walks and to connect for a moment with the beautiful world that surrounds us.

What is your favorite lighting?

I love shooting in the traditional “golden hours” of light at dawn or at dusk. I also like shooting in the shade at any time of the day. I’m not a big fan of blown-out background highlights, which seems to be a fad right now with many photographers.

—David


Eve Tuft, Iowa, USA

Eve Tuft
How long have you been a photographer?

About four years.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

I have always been fascinated with photographs but never had my own camera until a few years ago. Once I got a camera, I started taking pictures of everything and have been taking pictures ever since. It is such a creative medium to work with, and with digital cameras, if you “mess up,” you can always take another picture until you get one that you are pleased with.

What is your photography forte?

I don’t know if I have a “forte,” but I love taking pictures of people.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

Taking pictures with the right kind of lighting. A picture can have too many harsh shadows in the middle of the day, but in the evening it can all come together.

What about photography inspires you?

I love how one person can look at an object and take a picture of it, while another person can do the same with the same object and their end results can be so different from one another’s. We all see things so differently and therefore capture things differently in a picture. All of the unique experiences we have had can really contribute to the kind of work that we produce.

What do you love about photography?

I love the different emotions that can come out of a person from looking at one picture. I think that photographs can often speak louder than words.

What advice would you give to new photographers?

Take a camera with you wherever you go and take a lot of pictures. I started out with a cheap “point-and-shoot” camera and had that one for three years. Someone once told me that a photographer was only as good as his or her camera. I think that is like saying an author is only as good as his or her pen. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a nice camera or if you only have one lens or if you don’t have any kind of editing program. You don’t need those to capture emotion in a photograph. You just need a bit of experience.

Where is your dream location to shoot?

I would love to be able to take pictures of people from around the world in their own environments.

—Eve