Between the Lines


The final Find Your Eye course assignment:  a careful and thoughtful review of our Inspiration File, searching for the themes, the commonalities, the threads of connection that wind through our work. Confronted with my favorite images, culled from my archives from the past year, I was struck by a new insight:

My images are hard.


Hard-edged. Dominated by lines, textures and patterns. Geometric and abstract.



Hard light. Strong shadows; high contrast. The interaction of light and shade.


Hard surfaces. Glass, concrete, metal, brick.


As Arte Johnson used to say…verrrry interesting. But what I am still pondering is what this means exactly.

I understand that my images are not softened with natural elements or given an emotional ingredient by including people or animals. There is no motion or physicality – my images are fairly static. I fill the frame with the details that interest me; perhaps providing only a partial view of my subject.

Sometimes I wonder if these features will prevent others from engaging with my work; that I have provided nothing for the viewer to relate to. And while I understand that I create photographs for myself, we all want others to connect with our work. To me, these images have their own stark and simple beauty. But do others see what I see? Can they appreciate what I find out in the world? Or do others find my images sterile and cold? By my desire for perfection, do I make my images lifeless?

Ahhh, things to contemplate and consider as I move on to the next course in the Finding Your Eye series: Journey of Recognition. Thanks to Kat and my classmates for their insights and support throughout.


Posted on August 7, 2011, in Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I find your use of color, texture, lines and patterns very interesting and I think your photographic eye is quite good. I tend to like all the abstract images I have seen so far by you and have found them to be of an excellent quality. Looking forward so seeing you in the follow up class as well.

    • Monique,
      Thanks so much for your positive comments about my work – you don’t know how much it means to me that you see something there that interests you.

      Today, a blog post came through my reader with the following quote as the headline:

      “…be confident enough to say, ‘This is what I believe in. This is what I like. This is my soul, exposed.”Geraldine James Creative Walls

      Sometimes the right words arrive at the right time. Thank you for yours as well.

  2. Brenda, thank you for your comments over on my blog. I love the lines and planes of your images.

    • KC,

      The best thing about the FYE course has been the support of fellow classmates. Thank you for yours here, as I try to understand what my insights mean to me and my photography.

  3. I left a note on your photographs a few minutes ago. You are one of the photographers, where I know what you want to say. I could pick out your work in a group of hundreds. This is a good thing. You have a very specific voice and eye. It serves you well. And you serve it well.
    I find your work very engaging…I look for the shadow play and all the color found in your shapes. You have quality work that could have a gallery showing. This is said with complete sincerity.

    Smiles: Sharon

    • Sharon,

      You have certainly given this girl a reason to smile! What lovely, lovely compliments, both here and on Flickr – I can’t really express how much your words mean to me.

      I think as we journey toward recognizing our “eye”, there are those moments of fear – when we doubt ourselves and our art. When we wonder if the path we have chosen is the right one. If anyone else will recognize what we have created and be moved. That’s when we need voices that support us. Thank you for being that voice.

  4. Your photographs are far, far from lifeless. They are very narrative, to my eye. Each one presents a piece of a story, a suggestion. A way into imagination. What better gift than that?

    There is a definite emotional component, but it’s subtle. When you look at a picture of a fluffy kitten, the emotion is predetermined, a scripted “Aww, how cute.” When you look at the lines and shadows and textures of a Brenda Gottsabend photograph, you get to think about what that image means to you — and about how it makes you feel.

    You have an amazing talent, a gifted eye. Don’t doubt it.

    • Lisa,
      I am still struggling with a way to thank you for your words and your faith in me and my gift. What I would like is for you to write this note of gratitude for me, because I know with absolute certainty that you would find the right way to express my feelings.

      In so doing, please include in the story the fact that I actually choked up – that I feel deeply humbled to have connected with you in such a meaningful way in such a short time. That your trumpeting of my work via your blog and Twitter leaves me spinning and twirling in happiness. Be sure to tell the part that I know I don’t take typical photographs. And that really, I’m okay with that because I shoot what I love. But that sometimes doubt does creep in – “will anyone else GET this?” And knowing that you see my work and find levels of meaning and emotion is almost too much.

      So, you take it from here: work your writer’s magic, assemble the right words and send thank yous from the bottom of my heart.

  5. Your images are always so interesting Brenda, I love the lines and texture and how they make me look closer. What is it that I am seeing? My brain asks. They draw me in because I want to know. Your images definitely have a style of your own.

    • Kat – thanks for explaining your reaction to my photos. It is so very encouraging to understand how others see my work and to know that my style can reach you and draw you in. While I recognize that art is subjective and also understand that my work will not speak to everyone, it is very grafifying to know that there are people who are intrigued or interested in my images. Thank you again for the class and the support that you have provided to everyone along the way.

  6. Brenda,
    Your reply is so eloquent that I’m tempted to have YOU finish the revisions on my novel! I’m certainly not getting very far very fast, though that is partly because we just got a new puppy. Clearly, I thought a life of balancing homeschooling and a writing career was not busy or frantic enough . . . I had to add to the mix. My head is spinning, but I’ll hold onto your faith that I have something good to say. 🙂

    • Lisa,
      If you knew exactly how long it took me to compose said eloquence, you would NOT want me anywhere near anything with a deadline. No, I will let you continue to revise and improve and tweak. I will look forward to the final product.

      Ah, yes – mothers – gluttons for punishment through taking on more joy than they can handle. Good luck with puppy training. Really, not all that different than child care. I expect to read a future hiliarous post about the trials and tribulations.

  7. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your encouraging comments. I am still working through the different blogs from the various finding your eye and exploring with a camera links and am really pleased to have come across yours.

    There may not be a natural softness to your images, but there is certainly a story and emotion in them, and one that because of the starkness of some of them is also very compelling and hard to ignore.

    • Carolyn,
      It takes time and commitment to make your way around to all the FYE blogs – I’m so glad you were able to make it around to my little corner of the web – I do hope you will stop by again.

      And thank you so much for seeing something in my images. I really have been questioning whether my images would speak to anyone else – knowing that you saw beauty in the starkness means so much to me.

  8. Your images are absolutely stunning to me!! No they’re not cold! You have a wonderful eye at conveying your love for lines and shapes!! I look forward to seeing and admiring more of your work!!

    • Cathy – thank you so much for your support of my “hard” images 🙂 It has been very encouraging to hear from others that my images do speak to them in some way – that the lines and shapes can convey emotion and perhaps even a story. I do hope that you will stop back again and follow me on this journey.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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