With the development of smart phones, tablets and e-readers, the ability to try something new is often right at your fingertips. For University of Wisconsin Oshkosh biology professor and virologist Teri Shors, new and emerging technology has allowed her to pursue her photography hobby, and to easily share her photographs with others.
High-quality cameras on smart phones and tablets, as well as apps like Instagram and Tumblr are great tools for people with no formal photography training to become photography hobbyists. Shors is taking advantage of them, generating an incredible, weekly-updating catalog of gorgeous images from the confines of her city of Oshkosh neighborhood on the edge of Menominee Park and the rim of Lake Winnebago.
Shors has always considered herself to be a creative person. When it came to deciding what she wanted to pursue in college, she was initially torn between art and science.
“Since I am a very curious person, science became my choice,” Shors said. “Science helped satisfy my curiosity about so many things.”
Growing up in a rural farming community in Minnesota, it was important for Shors to learn a trade.
“Art wasn’t really considered a trade,” Shors said. “Science was a good fit because I am curious, and microbiology and virology were a good fit because they focused on the invisible world of infectious agents and microbes. It can take some imagination to fathom the world of microbes when you are first learning about them.”
As a scientist with a passion for the fine arts, Shors began looking for ways to include her creativity into her scholarly work and teaching. Shors is mildly dyslexic and finds that using visuals is most conducive to her learning.
Shors began to write several books, but permissions for images and figures can often become costly.
“I started to incorporate photographs that I have taken into book projects as a way to cut costs, but also to satisfy more of my creative needs,” Shors said.
Shors, who calls herself the “CNN of Menominee Park,” also satisfies her creative desires by taking daily walks around Oshkosh, mainly Menominee Park. Armed with her iPhone 5S and an array of clip-on lenses, Shors snaps photos of animals, foliage, sunrises, people and anything else she sees.
She also recently began taking photos at the Paine Art Center and Gardens, Asylum Point Park, the Wiouwash Trail and Riverside Cemetery. Shors also has taken photos on campus, in the labs and walking from Halsey to Clow to teach.
When it comes to photographing around Oshkosh, Shors has a tendency to notice the little things.
“I like to photograph obvious things that people don’t notice, but suddenly notice after you show them a photograph,” Shors said. “Right now, the trees are blossoming in Menominee Park and I’ve been fascinated with the flower blossoms.”
One of Shors’s favorite photo subjects are the ice shoves.
“Some people see images in clouds, I see images in the ice,” she said.
Shors also enjoys taking photos of everyday things at unique angles to give people a different view of something that they may see on a regular basis.
“Often, I am down on the ground trying to get that different perspective,” Shors said.
She also uses her photography to document local events. After the April 10, 2013, ice storm, Shors took photos around Oshkosh to provide a record of both the beauty and the destruction that was created.
Shors does not just keep her daily photos to herself. She uploads her “daily walk” photos to her Facebook page every day for her followers to see. She also participates in two amateur photography websites, where she posts her photos for peer review. Additionally, Shors has posted some of her weather photos to the Weather Channel and WFRV. One of her photographs was picked up from the Weather Channel website by USA Today and used in their publications.
Shors often compiles her photos into larger works by creating photobooks on iPhoto.
“I make photobooks all the time and give them away as gifts,” Shors said. “After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook and 26 people were killed, mainly children, I decided to… do 26 acts of kindness. My acts are making photobooks and giving them away.”
Having a high-quality camera constantly on-hand, as well as free access to several free photography apps and social media platforms has helped Shors continue to pursue photography as a hobby.
“Having a digital image makes storage easy and is a simple venue to share photos,” Shors said. “I can email photos with the quick touch of a button. I can share them on Facebook the same way. I can post them to sights. It is easy to reach the masses.”
“The more technology in our equipment, the less science we need to know in order to make photographs,” Gleason said.
He believes that because technology is advancing and becoming more user-friendly, amateur photographers are able to pursue their passions and communicate how they see the world in their own unique way.
“We have more photographs available to us than at any time in history,” Gleason said. “Most of these photographs will not be viewed by you or me, so what’s the point? It probably comes down to an internal need for each of us to find some way to express ourselves through some form of communication. Photography can be viewed as using technology to communicate, but technology isn’t making interesting photographs. Excellent visual communicators create interesting photographs.”
While photography hobbyists may not have the newest and latest photography equipment, formal training and an education in photography aesthetics, photographers like Shors are able to use today’s technology to express themselves and capture a moment in time that no one else ever will.
Check out Shors’s photobooks:
- Draped In Ice April 10, 2013
- A daisy book
- The Nov. 20th, 2013, sunrise walk with Thor to talk science
- Sitha Thor’s research project about Hmong herbal treatments was presented in photobook form as a thank-you to the herbalists he talked to. Many did not speak English, so providing photographs was a way for them to see his work and results.