"Folding and Mending" Exhibit at The Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA (Photo courtesy Ann Jastrab)

Artist Statement

As a fine art photographer, my goal is to present the wonders of the world around us as a sanctuary to be contemplated, honored, and preserved. I am intrigued by the fundamental structures of nature and the way the elements - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Gravity, Light, Space, and Time - imprint our world with their magic.

My introduction to fine art photography was through the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Minor White. I immediately resonated with their portrayal of nature and landscape. However, I was first influenced artistically by painters. I admired the ability of impressionists to render the feeling and experience of a scene, rather than simply an accurate depiction of it. The abstract expressionists have also been a creative influence, with their move away from realism in art. 

With the devastating impacts of climate change, I have come to feel nostalgic about the natural world, even as I am photographing it. Images from my "Mindful Reminiscence" series take on a vintage appearance with a dreamy, timeless quality that also carries hope for nature’s resilience. The hand-folded, scorched, and stitched prints in the "Folding and Mending" portfolio are a way of expressing "the world folding in on itself" and our need to rebuild and repair the damage we have done.

The exploration of nature on all levels is at the heart of my photography. I can’t think of better words to describe it than these by John Muir, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”

Photo: Self-Portrait with Hat, Metal Plate Transfer


Born and raised near Pittsburgh, PA, fine art photographer Debra Achen developed a passion for art and a connection to nature as a young child. She majored in Art Education at Edinboro State University before completing her BA in Visual Arts and Communications at the University of California, San Diego. She studied a variety of studio arts, including drawing, painting, and printmaking in addition to her training in traditional film and darkroom photography. Achen continues to attend workshops and lectures to engage with new technical and creative innovations in photography as an art form. She lives on the scenic central coast of California where she finds inspiration for her nature-based work.

Achen’s photographs have been featured in group exhibitions throughout the US and Europe and in curated exhibitions at the Weston Gallery, the Center for Photographic Art, and Carmel Visual Arts Gallery. Her “Folding and Mending” series was selected for the 2022 Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50 and her award-winning self-published book, “Frequency Shift: The Stonehenge Continuum” was featured in the 12th Annual Photobook Show at the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her work can be found in a number of private and corporate collections.  View detailed exhibition history in CV.

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