Vanessa & Stephanie Kraus – Dreams of Beans
Though we’d both had cameras as kids, both of our interests in photography grew from taking Communications Tech classes in high school. We learned the same lessons in composition, progress and editing, but from there developed very different styles and approaches to our photography. One likes to control her shots and set up detailed, creative shoots; the other prefers to capture scenes as they are and pick out their details. We often shoot at the same places, both at home and around the world, and always come away with completely different images. However, we still learn from each other, swapping techniques and equipment and ideas when it comes to shoots. Many people say that siblings don’t see eye to eye, and this is certainly true for us; however, our differences lead to creativity rather than conflict. Have a look and see for yourself.
I have a photographic ‘day job’: I’m the official photographer for the University of Ottawa’s Quidditch teams. While sports and event photography has its own perks and challenges, I always enjoy stepping back to my original love of nature photography and portraiture. I’d already taken a digital tech course in high school, but a school visit from the incredible Peterborough photographer Jennifer Moher made a lasting impression on me. My interest took off and I got my first real camera that Christmas, which has since traveled with me everywhere from Ottawa to Italy. When I shoot something, what I often end up with is a kind of jigsaw puzzle made up of the individual details of what I am looking at; I’ve ended up with hundreds of pictures of individual flowers from a flowerbed, or two dozen pictures of a person’s hands before one of their face. It’s a huge change from sports photography, where I have to move quickly and capture as much in one shot as I can. The chance to slow down and focus on the little or surprising things in a scene has led to some of my best work. And while this may not be the best strategy, I often rely on luck to capture something beautiful or unexpected, and while I’ve experience a lot of failure this way, I’ve also had some pretty amazing successes.
The first camera I ever got was a tiny little point and shooter, and the only thing I ever took pictures of were toilets. My vision since then has changed significantly. I first started shooting seriously in 2014, in a Communication technology course at school. My teacher thrust a Nikon in to my hands and said “Learn what you can, research what you don’t know.” I didn’t listen to him and I just started shooting. I let my eye tell me what to look at and how to look at it, and suddenly I could see pictures in my head that I knew I had to take. I took just about every kind of picture you could imagine: Portraits, landscapes, you name it. I fiddled with so many different settings that I didn’t even know about, but I got them to work in my favour. Eventually, I would end up with shots that made me proud. I got my own Nikon D3100 and was so excited to take it on a camping trip. The idea of taking photos of fireflies was the only thing on my mind. I still refused to research anything and just went by my gut, and because of that, I almost stopped shooting. When I got home and checked all the pictures I had taken, every single one was blurry. I was distraught. The images I had seen and thought I had captured hadn’t turned out at all. This was when I discovered the difference between auto and manual focus. Since then, I’ve delved deeper in to more controlled shoots, using random objects to give life to images in my head. I’ve used shattered mirrors, fabric flowers set on fire, old jars broken and rearranged, and so much more. Anything I see in my mind, I try to find a way to express it through this beautiful art form. I’m so lucky to share it with as many people as I have.