We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Carol, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always had artistic leanings. My first camera was a Brownie box camera given to me by my grandparents on my 9th birthday. Through high school and beyond I dabbled with drawing and painting, as well as a few photography classes. But as much as I enjoyed these activities, it was never more than an entertaining hobby as my life followed other paths.

I met my husband in college while I was learning to sail a small boat. Through the early years of our marriage, sailing was a part of our lives but eventually gave way to the demands of raising a family and our careers. When we approached retirement age, we surprised ourselves by impulsively purchasing an ocean-going sailboat that was situated in New Zealand, and immediately made plans to cruise through the South Pacific. I wanted to have an artistic hobby on board to fill in the hours, but most media options were too messy for the tight quarters of a boat. A camera turned out to be the perfect accessory – always close at hand whether onboard or exploring a beach or island. And I love computers as well. The age of digital photography matured just as I was turning serious about the craft. It was a match made in heaven for me.

Ultimately we cruised to nearly 40 countries over a span of some dozen years aboard our two yachts – Raven, a sailboat, followed by Avatar, a powerboat. To stay in touch with family and friends at home, I created an illustrated blog and shared both the stories of our adventures and the photographs I took along the way. For the first year or two, the photos were more snapshots than artistic creations, but I soon found wonderful sources online that helped me hone my skills and my eye for composition. I was also an avid scuba diver, so my photography encompassed scenes both above and below the water.

My brain is wired visually. I take pleasure in concentrating on what I see. That may be the beauty in a landscape or the colors of a sunset, or it may be a special moment in the life of a wild animal that I am privileged to observe. When working with a camera, or with pencils, pastels, or paint, the extra focus needed to absorb and recreate the scene enhances the experience. That extra time peering through the viewfinder looking for the perfect moment in time to freeze forever makes me feel more a part of the action rather than just a casual observer.

When our sailing years came to an end, I wasn’t ready to give up travel and new experiences. I started joining photography workshops, led by skilled leaders who sorted out all the basic nitty gritty of travel and lodging arrangements, guides, etc. That allowed us, the participants, to truly concentrate on the act of photography in the company of like-minded adventurers.

Photo workshops have taken me to fascinating locations scattered around the world. I’ve traveled to Africa for wildlife photography, the edge of the Arctic for aurora photography, a horse farm in Iceland to photograph the Icelandic Horses, Alaska for grizzly bears, the Desert Southwest for the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Plateau, Maine for Milky Way photography, and much more. The thrill of being present in the moment is relived again back at the computer when I post-process the literally thousands of images I capture on each of these adventures. And it whets my appetite for more.

Fine-tuning my craft and sharing my artwork in public is a means of validating my work. I frequently get feedback commenting not only on the artistic merit of the photography but the fact that the images allow people to see places or subjects they will never experience themselves. I try to share the story behind each image so that it becomes even more meaningful. And, of course, in retrospect I am creating an in-depth illustrated journal of my own life experiences.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I create my art primarily for myself, to feel that connection with my subject matter and to freeze a special moment in time so that I can relive it again and again. And I enjoy the challenge of constantly learning and trying to improve my craft. But it is gratifying to know that my images bring pleasure to others. I enjoy writing as well, so what I share is generally not only an image but the story that goes with it.

I’ve had some very interesting feedback from my followers that tells me that this can be more important than I might have realized. I’ve had the great good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of life experiences and travel to places the average person might never see. Of course, during the pandemic, nearly everyone was cooped up and deprived of the opportunity to travel. Someone wrote the following to me once, and it seems to sum it up:

“I feel like I can be in the picture and be in a place where I can be there for a moment. In the age we live in, it’s important to be able to get away or take a moment to ‘ just breathe ‘ and your abilities and skills provide that to me in your arts.”

Or this one:

“Your breathtaking pictures just make me feel good. They take me to places where I lose myself and find peace in these uncertain times.”

Comments like that remind me that as much as I participate in photography for my own enjoyment, I can also share that pleasure with others, and bring some small spark of happiness to their day.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a nature and animal lover, so for visitors to my hometown of Tucson, I would encourage them to enjoy Arizona’s exceptional outdoor environment. From our high desert valley to the alpine climate of the mountain ranges that surround our city, there are so many opportunities to hike and explore this unique area.

For an educational experience, we have a world-class facility in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum that combines the elements of a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium all focused on our unique Sonoran desert environment.

And for those who love learning about history, the stunning 18th century Spanish mission San Xavier del Bac, also known as the White Dove of the Desert, is a must-see!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I credit my sister Patty Hosmer of HoofPrints Fine Art Photography for leading the way. Although I dabbled, she embarked on a professional photography career before me, specializing in champion quarter horses and later portrait photography. I bought my first professional-caliber digital camera equipment from her and she was, and is, always there to answer a question, trade artistic insights, and travel with me on photo workshops to far-flung locations around the world. https://www.hoofprintsfineart.com

My current workshop leader of choice is Denise Ippolito of ‘A Creative Adventure’. Denise offers an extensive portfolio of workshops to places all around the world that are booked up at least two years in advance. She has a fun upbeat enthusiasm that infuses her workshops with positivity as well as expertise. Her own photographic style is artistic and elegant.

The internet deserves a great deal of credit as well. There is a wealth of learning opportunities online for photographers, some free and some for pay. From day one to this very moment, those resources continue to help me grow both artistically and technically.

And I have to give my husband Mike a shoutout for his patience and willingness to go along on many of my adventures, even if it means he sometimes gets stuck schlepping a 40 pound backpack full of gear, or scolding me (unsuccessfully) for staying out too long in 40º below weather shooting the aurora borealis in Arctic conditions.

Website: www.cbparkerphoto.com

Instagram: instagram.com/cbparkerphoto

Facebook: Facebook.com/cbparkerphoto

Other: Blog: www.carolparkerphoto.com

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