Photo: Self-Portrait with Hat, Metal Plate Transfer

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 major creative influence, with their move away from realism in art.

Some of my images do border on the abstract. By focusing on a certain element of a subject, it becomes distilled to its basic shapes and forms, revealing patterns and textures inherent in nature. Other work falls into the category of photo-impressionism. Here I use long exposures to blur the borders between objects and the space that surrounds them. Movement of the subject or the camera adds the element of time, transforming points of light into “brushstrokes” and creating a fluid, impressionistic interpretation of the scene.

With the devastating impacts of climate change, I have come to feel nostalgic about the natural world, even as I am photographing it. Images take on a vintage appearance with a dreamy, timeless quality that also carries hope for nature’s resilience.

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.”

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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. Throughout her school years, Achen enrolled in every art class that was offered. 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, printmaking and sculpture in addition to her training in traditional film and darkroom photography. After years of painting nature-based abstracts, the gift of a digital camera put her on the creative path of fine art photography. This coincided with a move to the Monterey Peninsula, an area steeped in the history of West Coast fine art photography and an environment that provides endless inspiration for her work.

Achen’s work has been featured in international juried exhibitions throughout the U.S and in Europe.  She has also been invited to a number of group exhibitions, including “Fire and Water” at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, CA and “The Elementalists” with William Giles and Carol Henry at Carmel Visual Arts Gallery.  View detailed exhibition history in CV.

Click here to view and download complete biography. (PDF)

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