1:1 - Angela DeRay

Posted on: April 3, 2014

interviewed by Dot Dannenberg
Welcome back to 1:1, a series of interviews in which 1:1000 sits down with 1 writer or photographer, and forces them to spill their creative secrets. 

Angela DeRay, the photographer behind “Rx” and “A Woman’s Desire,” is truly an artist of sincerity. Her photos, which she calls “the moments of my choosing,” often capture the world in its most unassuming state. She joins us today to talk inspiration, success, and the human side of Instagram.

1:1000: How did you get into photography?

ANGELA DERAY: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved cameras and photos--they stop time; I find that astonishingly magical--but it wasn’t until a few Christmases ago, when my husband surprised me with a "proper" camera (a not-so-subtle hint on his part), that I finally shifted from procrastination--“One day, I’d love to learn photography…”--to implementation. I enrolled in a couple of photography classes. I read a ridiculous amount of photography material. Before long, I bought an iPhone and a friend introduced me to the Instagram app. Gleefully I fell, further and further, down the rabbit hole…

1:1000: Your photography is very connected with the natural world, and often of the simpler moments in life. What draws you to these subjects?

AD: I am drawn to subjects that create emotional responses in me; ones that make me feel something. When I pull out my camera and snap a photo, it’s more about trying to capture a feeling than producing a perfect image. I am drawn to nature because it makes me feel small (in a good way!) and makes me feel connected to something more infinite than myself. I am drawn to the "simpler moments in life" because they make me feel big, in an abundantly blessed way.

1:1000: Henry James, in The Art of Fiction, advised writers to be a person "on whom nothing is lost"--do you think this applies to your artistic process with photography?

AD: Oh gosh, Mr. James, that’s a lot of pressure! And, with all due respect, I’d have to say my artistic process disagrees. I’m easily overwhelmed by the enormity and complexity of life; it can be too much for me to take in as a whole. But, I find, when I focus on the smaller details, I’m more easily able to absorb, process and appreciate the bigger picture. My process is more to do with finding and honing in on the things that really speak to me rather than aiming to make sure that “nothing is lost.” Instead, I seek to "lose" the bits that don’t speak to me and capture the ones that do.

1:1000: You're an ex-pat--an American in the UK. Do you think there's a difference in sensibilities when it comes to British vs. American photography?

AD: It’s difficult to generalize in terms of British vs. American, because individual photographers differ so much from each other, in both style and content, regardless of where they live. But as an American expat living in the UK, I’ve definitely developed an appreciation for the individuality and quirks of each country. I’m in the unique position of being able to see each place through the eyes of a foreigner and a native, respectively. And perhaps that mixture of wonder and affection is evident in my photography.

1:1000: What do you think Instagram has done for photography?

AD: Instagram has made photography more accessible and less intimidating. It enables anyone with a camera(phone) and the app to experiment, play and get creative. Joining Instagram was one of the first, vital steps in my creative journey. It helped remove a lot of the "fear barriers" that were holding me back.

1:1000: You've built quite a following there--how did that come about?

AD: One of the things I enjoy about Instagram is the sense of community; there are lots of talented, friendly, supportive people (from all around the world!) interacting with one another. I consider myself fortunate to be part of those interactions and I think my following has grown as a result of the connections I’ve made there.

1:1000: Who are some photographers you admire?

AD: I like different photographers for different reasons – not necessarily because I think one is better than the other. On Instagram, I’m partial to galleries that combine photos with writing, and I adore posts that give me that "warm, fuzzy feeling." I’m always hesitant to pick favorites, but since you’ve twisted my arm, see @biancaelizalde, @caitlindskoog, @candacecatherinee, @celerinapie, @elliequent, @sendiong, and @robinmay for a few (of the many!) galleries that have captured my heart.

1:1000: You mentioned on your blog that you first used Instagram as a platform for your writing. What was that experience like?

AD: Scary! Exhilarating! Liberating! It was a bit like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"-–when the idea of trying to start a book or a blog was "too big" and the thought of confining my writing to a private journal was "too small," Instagram was "just right." It allowed me to ease back into writing, with small(ish) captions, and get myself into the habit of writing something on a daily basis.

1:1000: What writing projects are you working on now?

AD: I started my blog, Little Tiny Scribbles, in January, and that has taken up a lot of my recent time and focus, but I hope to expand further over the course of the year. I have a book idea I’d like to develop and I’d be interested in exploring the world of magazine writing.

1:1000: You write in your blog about what you call "The Big Lie"--that notion, in part supported by society, that a person needs to be very good at something in order to do it. This is a stifling fear for so many artists--the little voice demanding success. How were you able to reject this lie to get on with your work?

AD: "The Big Lie" is a powerful lie, one that kept me silent for an awfully long time. But ultimately, I decided I didn’t want to reach the end of my life filled with The Regret of Never Trying; I decided I wanted to be able to look back with The Pride of Knowing I Tried, instead.

1:1000: What would you say to writers and artists who are nervous to put their work out there into this over-saturated market?

AD: If you enjoy creating, then create. Do it for you. Do it for the joy or the peace or the fulfillment it brings you. Take your creativity seriously. Give yourself credit. Let the fact that you’re creating be your ultimate measure of success. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.” So try. And know that by trying, you've already succeeded.

You can find more of Angela’s photography and writing at Little Tiny Scribbles and on Instagram @shutterdoodles.

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