She’s a mother, former Air Force nurse and a wife that communicates all aspects of her life as poetic images of beauty. She made children swimming in her back yard pieces of fine art with international awards of recognition. I could write numerous articles on her work, her consistent portfolio and my admiration for her photographic expression. Her black and white imagery with emotive children and blurred waters create a nostalgic sense of peace with a hint of childhood adventure. Meet Deb Schwedhelm, a Tampa-based fine art children’s photographer and this week’s Photographer of the Week.
“My love for underwater photography began in my backyard pool, capturing the everyday riot of my children swimming, playing with friends, relaxing in the sun, splashing, laughter, combat. But as I continued to photograph in the water, unexpected images began to surface. Shimmering fragments. Dark profiles. Murky truths. Whispering poetry. From the pool to rivers, lakes, springs, bay inlets and the expansive sea, this poetry speaks again and again. I am endlessly taken by surprise and I listen. The images in this series aren’t forced or posed; instead, each is its own revelation a milepost on an unexpected voyage to an unknowable destination. While the making of these photographs in the water is often chaotic, I am simultaneously offered a sense of home, comfort and peace.”
Deb’s Favorite Gear:
Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
Nikkor 35mm f/1.4
SPL underwater housing
“My advice to emerging photographers?
Follow your dreams and dream big. Really big. I mean why not, right? What do you have to lose? And while you’re dreaming big, start working hard and don’t ever give up. You never know what’s possible.
I often wonder how I got to this place, this amazing place of being a photographer and absolutely loving what I do. I mean I was a Nurse in the Air Force. My studies were focused on science and math. I never took a photography course or even an art class. But I remember clear as day saying in 1997 (as my husband was photographing of our four-day-old daughter with his ‘fancy’ camera from his college photography days) ‘someday I’m going to be a photographer!’
It wasn’t until 2005, at age 37, that I took the leap of faith and actually began teaching myself photography, but the dream was always there and I never gave up on that dream. I keep these thoughts tacked on my inspiration board next to my desk. I think this list is a perfect reminder for photographers new and old:
Work to master your technique.
Work to master your artistry (along with technique).
Become an expert with light.
Slow down. Be patient. Allow yourself the gift of time.
Know that your studying, learning and growing will never done.
Create images that infuse your passion and feelings.
Trust that your unique personal style will set you apart from the rest.
Quality not quantity.
Shoot often. As much as you can.
Do something creative every day.
Own your work and be proud.
Don’t worry what everyone else is doing.
Be authentic in all your produce and put out there.
Study and learn things that go beyond what the mainstream will study.
Share openly and honestly.
Be committed & determined.
Make genuine connections.
Fight the fear.
Keep things enjoyable.
Do your best.
Don’t ever give up.
Don’t lose sight of what’s important and why you started photography.
Remember to be grateful, kind and giving.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share. It is an honor to be featured here.”
For beautiful words and daily inspiration, be sure to follow Deb on and see more of her portfolio here.
*Photofocus presents the Photographer of the Week as a case study in great photography