The 2021 Wise Women Project features interviews and portraits of women over 50 with the goal of recognizing the many ways women contribute and provide inspiration to our community. These are their stories. Want to participate? Learn more here.
How old are you?
You are an artist, what is your medium today?
Why this medium?
I’ve loved it since I was a young child. I used to love looking at old family photos with my grandmother, photos dating back to the mid 1800’s. I felt like I knew my long-deceased relatives through these photos and I still possess these photos today. I also love photography because I can make time stand still. I can capture images that will be viewed over and over again and serve as a way to remember the things and people we love, the experiences we’ve had and the places we’ve been.
How has your art evolved as you have become older?
With practice, things improve and we get better at our craft. I love photographing many things and have been a family photographer for years but one of the genre’s I enjoy the most and discovered in 2007 is dogs. Learning dog behavior and how they look and behave through the lens takes practice and lots of patience. I also like to experiment more and am not worried about what others think.
What does art mean to you especially at this stage of life?
It’s a great way to express myself and to share beauty with the world. To me, it’s a great gift to have images of your family, friends and pets. You never know how important an image may be, especially after a loved one has passed. I have photographed births, deaths, decay, growth, and beauty. It’s a way to witness the human experience and to share what you’ve seen.
I’ve used photography to give to others but also to help in my own personal processes. I recently lost my dog of 12 years and it was so much harder on me than I thought it would be. I spent hours over many weeks going through all 10,000 images I had taken of him (and his brother that passed 5 years earlier) for over 12 years. I cataloged every photo, pulled my favorite 800 (what??), and put together a photo book that I’ll print for my own use. This forced me to relive his life, rather than his death through imagery, and has helped me process his loss.
I also photograph dogs for Longmont Humane Society. Shelter photography is very important to me and I’ve been doing it on a weekly basis for 13 years and have photographed over 3,300 dogs just for LHS. I love meeting the dogs, taking their photos and helping them get seen by others to help them get adopted. I started photographing dogs in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where I adopted my two dogs.
What is/has been the biggest roadblock to you as an artist?
Trying new things that take a big commitment of time and/or money.
How did you/are you pushing past that roadblock?
You just have to go for it! Brainstorm with friends or others in your field and find a way to make things happen. For example, this year I needed to find a way to increase my workload after losing two months of work after the shutdown. I decided to create a photo book of dogs in Boulder as a way to earn money but also as a fundraiser for the Longmont Humane Society. After careful planning I put it out there on social media and booked 10 more sessions than planned and just published my book, while raising over $2,300 for LHS.
Share a favorite quote about art.
“You Don’t Take A Photograph, You Make It” ~ Ansel Adams
Advice to anyone just beginning to experiment with their creativity and who is over the age of 50?
Go for it and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Create things for yourself first and practice, practice, practice. Talk to others in your field and study so you can learn.
Why did you want to participate in the Wise Women Project?
I participated in the Wise Women Project because as a photographer, I think it’s a good idea to have yourself photographed and documented (in pictures and words) as to who you are now. It’s nice to see now and will be great to look back upon in the future.
Anything you want to add?
You are never too old to learn new things and anyone can find their creative calling.
Below is a sample of Marsha’s beautiful work. Learn more about Marsha and see her full portfolio here.