Like most people, images that invoke emotion and serve as an invitation into some other place in some other time are some of our favorites. That connection between image and mood is exemplified very well in the work of our friend, Nancy (@nnnance). Mixing the beautiful landscapes of Canada with her own feelings, inspirations, and perspective and enhancing her imagery further with the help of Mextures quickly drew us to her work. We were so intrigued that we had an enlightening conversation with her about a little bit of everything. Read along now!
Hello! I'm Nancy. I'm married and have a six year old son who keeps me busy! I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I was a hairstylist for many years but due to health problems I've had to leave the industry and start all over and ended up working with numbers in a consulting firm instead. My right brain was having withdrawals so thank goodness for Instagram - my creativity has been added back into my life.
I feel most free when heading to the mountains (4 hour drive to Banff or Jasper) or travelling to new countries far, far away. I'm just an amateur photographer who adores nature. I can never be satisfied with just my photograph - I must transform them every single time with some moody edge to it. I also love macro shooting the littlest things like water droplets, flowers and dead weeds. Hence the variety on my feed!
To take it to the next level, I have tried to step outside the box and have embraced the editing world, appreciating all the work behind it, so collaborations are one of my favorites. Being introduced to a top editing app like Mextures I can accomplish dreamy tones, addicting textures, endless formulas and lastly, I have become inspired daily by all of the talented Mextures users.
How would you describe your style and how did that style come about?
When I first started Instagram four years ago, it was all about the beautiful, bright, lively colors, happy vibes and happy thoughts. But deep down I had an obsession with dark clouds, ravens, and silent forests. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that kind of change and if others were either. When Instagram exploded (in a good way) I took a chance and started posting what I always dream about. Yes. Big time day dreamer I am. It seemed that people enjoyed the change too, but I have to admit it was a bit of pressure trying to come up with something out of the ordinary every time. I have come to realize that Instagram is a way to express whatever you believe is beautiful.
The seasons changing definitely plays a huge part in my style. Living in Alberta, it's pretty much winter here for six months so I'll take whatever she gives us. In the dark and cold I will try to find beauty somewhere.
I am so particular with color and tones and obsessed with balancing my feed so that it is somewhat pleasant to the eye. Yes, I have OCD! Mainly, I'm all about nature that is atmospheric, moody, gloomy, dreamy, the odd sunshine, and then throw in a person for more drama. I hope people see and feel what I had envisioned. In the end I just want to produce something real, inspiring and timeless.
Why are you interested in photography and what keeps you interested?
It all started when I traveled to my home country, Vietnam, for the very first time many, many years ago. I stood on the top of the Red Sand Dunes in a place called Mui Ne. It was a breathtaking moment for me absorbing such beauty. And what do you know, I didn't own a single camera that time. So much regret for not capturing any of that memory but all I could do was stand there in awe. From that day on, I promised myself that I'd get one.
Instagram definitely makes you wanna get outside and just shoot anything. There’s so much talent out there and different perceptions of what creativity is. It's addicting and inspiring to see what people will post next and what feedback you get from your own posts. With so much more to learn, I would love to one day take a course in photography.
What is it that you want to communicate with your work?
I want to convey that you can turn anything into something much more meaningful by keeping an open mind for different expressions and imagination but also stay true to yourself. I hope that viewers can just take a moment to see and feel as I do with their’s.
What does your editing process generally look like?
I start off with cropping my raw images to fit Instagram, then I use DeluxeFX first to intensify my overall colors. If none of these filters work, I will alternate to Lenslight or Looksee. Once I'm good to go there, I crank up my tones with Mextures to create that ambience and fill out my frame with glows, lights and shadows, then splashing it with grits and grains for texture which is my most favorite. Lastly, I finalize details with PS Express.
For more extreme edits, I begin with cleaning up my images with Artstudio. Then I alter, add and manipulate with Photowizard and blend images with Photoblend. Most importantly, I finish with Mextures for moody tones and then PS Express for fine tuning.
My all time favorite textures are Insidious from Atmospheric and Seattle from Light Leaks. I always incorporate one of these two or both for a bit of warmth. I'm still playing around and experimenting and I’ve realized there is no ending to creating a formula. I just love the idea of sharing these formulas as well with the community.
Can you share some of your formulas?
Here are a few:
Heaven - XUNSPUE - Vignette with layers of multi colors and glowing background. I prefer this one for landscapes.
Magic Dust - IMBHLEN - Mixture of golden warmth composed with dust which I love on decaying macros and it certainly gives that vintage feeling.
Ominous - EWCSTCC - Dark, muted colors with rough textures for a more eerie not quite black and white edits.
Summer Fever - VKSDCAJ - Hint of purple top gradient like the sun rising and detailed with layering textures.
How has social media played a role in your work?
With all the inspiration out there it's hard not to follow the trends that are going on. There seems to be a certain style that is heavily influenced, landscapes being a huge factor. Living in Alberta it's not hard to capture it's natural beauty, but I like to capture shots that are usually overlooked.
Some days I just hit a wall, I open Instagram, and instantly it floods me with motivation. I'm not huge on other types of social media but Instagram truely connects people in every way. I love seeing other people's visions. You get a peek of who they really are and how their work has influenced me in some way.
I'm deeply fascinated by people who communicate daily with the world through their travels and captions. I’m also intrigued by people purely just for their art. My work will always continue to change, improve and be inspired by others.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
Oh absolutely! I think Mextures is one of a kind. I haven't seen any apps out there that provide such unique versatility. The quality and the finishes are flawless. In the past, my images were more just clean and polished. I was introduced to Mextures (by the lovely @pickledgoose) and have only explored the basics of Mextures and already my finishes have transformed immensely with unique textures and unlimited layers upon layers that I couldn't achieve before. I can create that make-believe illusion with dreamy effects and atmospheres. It takes the editing skills to an entirely different level. The best part is creating your own formulas that can be unique by themselves.
What would you like to accomplish via your work in the next year?
At the moment I feel safe with my work. I would love to broaden my photography and editing skills. I admire all the nature photographers that can just shoot manually and achieve such stunning outcomes with their lighting. On the other hand, I'm in awe of highly skilled editors who can turn a fantasy into an image. If I could accomplish a little bit of both in the next year through a workshop or sharing ideas with others that would be a great learning curve.
In your opinion, what makes a memorable piece?
A memorable piece to me is an image that is pleasing to the eye and also emits some deep feeling as if you were there. I believe it's all in the details too. Color evokes emotion, lighting creates drama, scale of the scenery, and uniqueness plays a huge part. All in all, I think it depends on the person's interests. Some people prefer something bold and over the top, but for myself, the images I find attractive and unforgettable are surreal and tranquil.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge in learning and developing your own photographic niche?
I am not a professional photographer so it is difficult for me to choose, specialize or even describe what my niche is. I like to be versatile with my work because I appreciate all kinds of photography and that is my biggest challenge. I follow a variety of artists and they all give me some different insight when I'm working on a photo. This stems from being a hairstylist. I'm slowly finding that my feed is emerging to a certain style, but that comes from what I enjoy at the moment. It's a learning process and always will be and I never regret trying something new.
Who are the people that have most inspired your work or people you feel have mentored you in your process?
Just to name a few but I could go on forever!
See heaps more of Nancy’s work here!