Elizabeth Gaad Combines Landscapes and Portraiture

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All photos by Elizabeth Gaad. Used with permission.

Photographer Elizabeth Gaad recently won the coveted Tumblr Photographers to Watch award, and her photos are both unique and jaw-droppingly beautiful. Elizabeth combines her love of landscapes and nature but adds in a human element–in many times it’s herself. She states that she is in awe of nature and has always been inspired by its beauty.

We talked to Elizabeth about the new award and about her photography–specifically about how she always finds inspiration in nature.

Phoblographer: How does it feel to be so highly recognized by Tumblr?

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Elizabeth: It feels strange and flattering to see my work as being “highly recognized”. I am always endlessly grateful for everyone’s support!

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

Elizabeth: Around the year 2006 I borrowed my dad’s little point-and-shoot camera and started taking photos of animals and nature. I grew to love taking photos more and more and started branching out and trying new things. In 2010 I wanted to take a leap of growth, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and did a “365 project” of self-portraits, taking one every day for the year. By the end of the year I realized how much I loved incorporating people (self-portraits and friends alike) with nature and landscapes, and thus found my niche in the photo world!

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Phoblographer: Your work is a special combination of landscape photography and portraiture. Which do you feel like you relate to more and why?

Elizabeth: I definitely relate more to landscape photography, for the simple reason that landscapes and nature are what calm, inspire and refresh me the most. I do love portraiture, but I’ve always been a nature person and am continually drawn to the mountains, forests and ocean. You’ll notice in most of my work, the people are not looking at the camera but are fully enraptured by the landscapes around them. I like to capture that feeling of awe and peace that I get when seeing these beautiful places, and that’s what I feel when I look at photos of people just “being” in nature.

Phoblographer: Your photos have a fairy tale feel to them. Is that what influences you and your work?

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Elizabeth: I was never actually very into fairy tales growing up, I was more inspired by my own imagination and and most influenced by the constant overwhelming feeling of awe and peace I feel when exploring nature.

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Phoblographer: Talk to us about your lighting–it looks like at certain times you’ll use artificial light while other times will err more towards natural.

Elizabeth: All my photos are taken with natural lighting. As much as I like artificial light and would probably enjoy experimenting with it someday, I still always feel more drawn to everything natural. And most of my shooting locations involve a lot of hiking and travelling, so I prefer to travel light with the least amount of equipment as possible.

Phoblographer: What gear do you use?

Elizabeth: Canon 60D, Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens and Sigma 24mm f/1.8 lens, as well as a tripod and long-distance shutter release for the self-portraits.

Phoblographer: From the locations in your photos, you sure do seem to travel a lot. Do you ever get specifically inspired by a location?

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Elizabeth: I certainly do get specifically inspired by locations. In fact most of my photos are taken spur-of-the-moment with no plan–I just enjoy adventuring and always keep my camera gear with me, and if I come upon a location with the perfect lighting then I’ll stop and wing a shoot!

Phoblographer: What do you feel you’re trying to communicate in your photos?

Elizabeth: I just take these photos to remember how I felt in those moments. And I hope that the people who see these photos can also feel a breath of fresh air and similar senses of awe, wunderlust, peace or calmness that I felt while shooting.

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