Welcome to the ninth edition of the Featured Photographer monthly post. Please meet Selena Shephard, a British who lives in Devon (United Kingdom). Despite of her long-term health issues, Selena continues to take images of her beloved Devon and her images are stunning!
Let’s get inspired by Selena’s photography works.
I have been following Selena’s instagram for a while. Known by her artist name “Slyshep”, her images are awe inspiring, showing the beauty of nature of her home, Devon. I did not know about Selena’s long-term illness until I invited her to be a featured photographer. Humbly she responded that she is just a very ordinary person who takes images during her walk with her dog, Suka. This is exactly what I have been looking for when featuring a photographer. It is not necessary that we travel far away to capture great images, even your own backyard could turn into beautiful images. Selena is succeed in this sense, to show the beauty of her surrounding during her walks. She stays strong despite of her illness, continuing her photography and producing great images. Her photography is not only intriguing but also as a person, Selena is truly an inspiring woman.
Selena as an Inspiring Photographer
If there was one thing you would want the readers to know about you, what would it be?
Life changed for me when as a young adult I became ill and was diagnosed with M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I’ve never fully recovered but learned to adjust my pace of life and take one day at a time. Photography is a hobby I am able to participate in as I can do this alone and at my own pace. I’m not very technically skilled with a camera so I try to use my images to capture a memory or an emotion rather than to create a technically perfect shot.
When did you get into photography and who/what inspired you to do it?
My father was in the Royal Navy and traveled a lot while I was growing up. He would photograph all the interesting places he’d visited and take a lot of family photos too. I was around 15 when I was given a basic point and shoot camera for my birthday. Back then I would take photos of friends, family and our pets. I few years later, when my father upgraded his SLR, I was given his old one. This was when I actively started looking for subjects to photograph and also became interested in landscapes. After I was struck down with my illness, I was unable to get out and about for a long time. Recovery was slow and never complete. I picked up my camera again when I became a mum….lots and lots of baby pics! A holiday to Crete a few years ago reignited my interest in photography.
What is in your bag (the camera, lens, accessories) when planning to take images?
These days, I take photos when out and about with my dog Suka, so I don’t carry a lot of paraphernalia. I often go out with only my old Samsung Galaxy S2 phone. When I know there will be a good photo opportunity, I’ll take a shoulder bag containing my Canon EOS 600D SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DC III Lens and UV filter. I don’t have any extra lenses or a tripod. I’m usually being pulled along by my dog, so I’ll have a dog lead in one hand and my camera in the other!
She goes pretty much everywhere with me, she’s a great companion. Dogs need exercise so if I’m going out, she’ll come too. You may think she’s photogenic, but it’s surprisingly difficult to get a good photograph of her. She’s not one for keeping still! My favourite photo of her is this one that I took in January 2014, on a beach in Cornwall.
What you can’t tell from the photo, is that it was incredibly cold and the wind was nearly blowing me over! My husband is in the background walking into the wind. Suka, being an Alaskan Malamute, was in her element loving the weather conditions and having around 3 miles of sandy beach all to herself.
Your image of Cann Woods looks moody and poetical, truly a stunning image. Did you have a special story when taking this image?
I love the forest! Cann Wood is one of our regular walks as it is very close to home. It is partly planted with deciduous trees – these areas let in a lot of light. The rest is the coniferous plantation. This image was taken a late afternoon but the image that came straight from my camera was too bright and didn’t match the sensation of when I enter that section of dense coniferous woodland. I always feel like I’m walking onto the set of Lord of The Rings. Very little light reaches the forest floor here and it is always eerily quiet. The bases of the trees look like they could be the feet from an enormous fantasy creature. I edited this photo in Snapseed, adjusting the brightness and temperature, to create an image that I felt went towards the moody, eerie atmosphere that this section of the woods evokes in me.
Devon through Selena’s Eyes
Is Devon your hometown? How long have you been living in Devon?
My family moved from Hampshire to Devon when I was 6 and I’ve lived in Devon ever since.
I feel very lucky to live here – I live to the east of Plymouth. I love to get out and about in the countryside. Devon has a very varied landscape. I can get in my car and within 10 minutes I can be on wonderful Dartmoor; at the beach; walking on the coastal path or in the woods somewhere.
My love of photography really helps me to appreciate where I live and not take it for granted.
Do you have a favorite place in Devon for photography?
Tough question! Both sets of my grandparents lived in an area called the South Hams and I have many fond memories of summers spent on the local beaches of this area. I think my overall favorite beach for photography is Bigbury-on-Sea. The beach is connected to Burgh Island, which you can walk to when the tide is low. There are some great photographic opportunities on the island; on the beach or from the coastal path. During low-tide, the beach is a huge expanse of sand which in places acts like a mirror reflecting any patterns in the sky…a wonderful place to be as the sun goes down. I’m waiting for October as a dog ban is in place during the summer months.
When is the best month to visit Devon?
Autumn and Spring are my favorite seasons. August is the busiest month here, due to the school holidays. The beaches get crowded, the roads are busy and there’s no guarantee of sunshine – so best to avoid. Right now, in September, Dartmoor is very colorful with the heather and Gorse both in flower. If I had to choose one month though, it would be November. I love the autumn colors from the changing of the leaves and although it’s cooler we often get long spells of sunshine that time of year.
Would you like to leave a special message about photography and travel to Devon?
Devon is a great destination for walkers and photographers. The beaches, coastal paths, and Dartmoor National Park are the 3 main areas of interest. If you are planning a trek on Dartmoor, you need to know that this area has its own micro-climate. A clear blue day can quickly become enshrouded in mist or driving rain. It’s very easy to lose all sense of direction when visibility is poor, so planning is important to ensure you make the most of your visit.
We get a lot of gray days here, but I never let the weather spoil my day. Devon looks great when the skies are bright blue but sometimes a stormy, gray sky really adds drama to the landscape.
Can’t get enough of Selena’s Photography?
All images presented here are chosen by Selena as her favorite images. If you click the image, you will be directed to the large version of the image on her Instagram Page.
More of images by Selena Shephard, please visit: https://instagram.com/slyshep/