Artist lets nature take its own course

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am

Okotokian Sharon Peters has a variety of her photographs displayed in the Sheep River Library gallery this month. Peters has been a photographer for 14 years.
Okotokian Sharon Peters has a variety of her photographs displayed in the Sheep River Library gallery this month. Peters has been a photographer for 14 years.
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An Okotoks photographer relies on intuition and instincts to capture nature with just the click of a button.

Sharon Peters isn’t interested in professional training to help her capture the beauty of the area in her photographs. The photographer of 14 years allows nature to guide her to that perfect picture, whether it’s an old shed or a colourful flower bud.

“I just really appreciate nature and I just want to capture it and share it with people,” she said. “I like being able to see it every day, even if I can’t get out. In the middle of the winter a picture of a fresh sunflower just cheers you up.”

The images Peters has captured are on display in the Sheep River Library art gallery in Turner Valley this month. The library showcases a new foothills artist exhibit each month in the gallery.

Peters’ love of photography began 14 years ago after seeing high-quality photographs of babies. Peters said she wanted to try her own skills at photography with her infant son and bought a Minolta SLR film camera.

“I saw all these cute baby pictures and I thought I could probably do that,” she said. “I started experimenting with him and I just started taking pictures everywhere I went.”

Peters decided to take it a step further and began taking family portraits in Grande Prairie, where she lived at the time. Rather than investing in equipment and creating an indoor studio, Peters relied on Mother Nature and took her photographs outside for a more natural look.

She soon discovered portrait photography wasn’t as rewarding as taking photographs on her own.

“It was fun, but back in the days of film when I started I would definitely lay awake at night worrying that hopefully they turned out and hopefully my clients were happy with them, which they usually were,” she said.

After five years Peters decided to take photographs on her own and since moving to Okotoks in 2004 found an endless supply of subject material.

Peters said her subjects consist mostly of landscapes and flowers, which she captures on hikes and trips to the mountains.

“I try to go out to the mountains or I go for a country drive at least once a month,” she said. “Coming from Grande Prairie (the mountains) were four hours away from us. Here it’s like 40 minutes and you’re in the mountains. They are so close.”

Much has changed since Peters purchased her first camera. She said digital cameras make photography so much easier now that she can view the photos immediately after taking them.

“I got my first digital when I moved here,” she said. “I’m not very technical at all. I’ve just learned from here and there and magazines. I never had any formal training, I just learn as I go.”

Peters said she’s always looking for the perfect picture, whether it’s a unique storm cloud, rainbow or breathtaking landscape. In some cases, Peters creates the setting for that perfect picture.

“Every once in a while I will buy a bouquet of flowers and play with the light,” she said.

Peters said her favourite time of day to take pictures is early in the morning and later at night when the light is soft and warm.

Most of her images are captured during the warmer months, but Peters said she does venture out in the winter to photograph frost on trees or waterfalls before the water is completely frozen.

“Before they closed the gate to the Sheep River Falls it was really cold and there was lots of snow and the water was still going over (the falls),” she said. “It’s a different colour of blue when you get it all icy.”

A collection of Peters’ photographs decorates every room in her home and some were displayed in the Blue Rock Café last year. As for selling her photography, Peters said it’s not so easy.

“Art is such a personal thing and it really has to hit someone to really love it,” she said. “It’s hard to sell your photography because everybody has got a nice camera and everybody is taking good pictures.”

Peters said she is glad to have the opportunity to display her photographs in the gallery in Turner Valley. A friend told her the library displays the artwork of local artists and she thought she would give it a try.

To continue to share her photography with others, Peters is considering making greeting cards featuring her photographs and sell them out of shops in downtown Okotoks.

To view Peters’ photography go to the Sheep River Library in Turner Valley during the library’s hours of operation. For more information about the library go to www.sheepriverlibrary.ca


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