Bobbie Goodrich is an artist, first and foremost. Her background in painting is apparent in her award-winning images of dance, African wildlife and the semi-wild horses of the Camargue in Southern France. For the past six years, she’s conducted workshops and photo tours domestically and in exotic global locations.
Prior to becoming involved with the visual arts, Goodrich was a dancer. Later, she devoted herself to the study of oil painting. She credits her interpretive photographic imagery to her years as a painter. “I got into photography on a 2005 trip to Africa with my new eight-megapixel digital camera,” she remembers. The excursion proved to be a turning point. “I was the first of my friends to get a digital SLR, and they all thought I was crazy.” She says that it took a while to transition into the digital arena, and she initially faced a big learning curve. “I had all these images, but they were intangible. I couldn’t take them to a lab and get slides to file away.”
From the start, Goodrich had a keen eye for lighting and composition, and she knew what she wanted to photograph. She began experimenting in-camera and learning Adobe Photoshop. After becoming proficient, she moved on to experimenting with Nik software plug-ins. “That’s what really got me going with fine-art photography,” she says. She missed putting something on canvas and letting it evolve creatively, as she had been able to do with her painting. Imaging software enabled her to take her creativity into the digital darkroom. She developed her own techniques with Nik software and enjoyed their products so much that she contacted Tony Corbell, the company’s director of education. He was impressed with her work and honored her as a member of “Team Nik,” a group of professional photographers who act as spokespersons for the product line.
Then Goodrich began experimenting with additional software plug-ins. She discovered Topaz artistic filters, which further added to her resources and creativity. She works primarily in Impression, a filter that emphasizes texture and brush strokes, and she has won acclaim for her high level of expertise. Goodrich has done live webinars for Topaz and Nik, and produced a live webinar for NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) on African wildlife.
“I’m the type of photographer who likes to think outside the box. I keep growing and trying new things,” she relates. “I’m willing to make a lot of mistakes before getting to my final print.”
In a sense, Goodrich has come full circle with Photographer’s Forum. In 2008, she entered the 28th Annual Spring Photography Contest, sponsored by the magazine and Canon USA. Her image of elephants in Kenya’s Ewaso Ng’iro River titled “Mud Bath” was awarded First Place and appeared on the cover of the hardcover book Best of Photography 2008. Goodrich received recognition from two prestigious photography competitions in 2014. She was the First Place honoree in the Animals and Wildlife category of the Pollux Awards, and her winning image was displayed at the Heritage Museum in fall 2014 in Malaga, Spain. She was also recognized for two images in the Wildlife – Professional category in the Black & White Spider Awards.
Not surprisingly, Goodrich approaches her workflow in an artistic manner. When she goes on a photo excursion to an area that she may never visit again, she might come home with as many as 20,000 images. “My students ask me how I choose the ones to put into post-production. First, I look at each image and analyze it. Then I ask, would this be a good painting? Would this image be worthy of a large oil canvas? If the answer is no, it’s nixed.”
She applies filters to images using the Photoshop brush, choosing various opacities for a specific area — which is one reason she uses Photoshop as her host program. “I also like the filter categories and blend modes that Photoshop offers for image enhancement.”
She teaches students the importance of prepping their RAW files before applying filters. “The initial adjustments are cropping for better composition and eliminating distracting background elements,” she points out. “And then, like a painting, the final image is a progression — an evolution of the RAW capture.” Students in her classes learn all the steps they need to take their RAW image to a final print. She says, “The goal is to make each image the student’s personal interpretation, one that holds the viewer captive.” She describes a successful image as “one that has expressive content and exemplifies the photographer’s expertise and skill in the digital darkroom.”
Goodrich observes that most burgeoning artists are looking for mentors, and want to learn how to create work like the established artists that they admire. “Students don’t only want to know the mechanics of the software,” she says. “They come to my studio to develop their creativity.” She emphasizes that students need to learn how to use the tools first, and then they can apply them in the digital darkroom to create different effects. “As they continue, students lose their fear and become more attuned to what they want to achieve with their work.”
When asked about her favorite subjects, Goodrich responds simply, “Horses, dance and African wildlife.” Within that subject matter, she looks for drama, movement and energy, seeking to portray the feeling she had while photographing. “Those subjects appeal to me for a reason,” she states, adding that people often wonder what they have in common. “There’s a central theme somewhere,” she laughs. “It’s probably their vitality, or just something that resonates with me.”
Over time, she says that her work has evolved from literal to more subjective interpretation. Selectively applying broad brush strokes for texture, accentuating shadow and light, creating soft and hard edges, and balancing cool and warm tones add to the drama and excitement of Goodrich’s photographs. “My images are enhanced to bring out the beauty and spirit of my subject,” she states.
Although she has traveled widely, Goodrich says that her current focus is devoting more time to her personal work. In the past, she offered one workshop a month, which proved to be exhausting. Currently she conducts two to three workshops a year in her Santa Fe studio. “The people who come to my workshops want to develop a creative style,” she says. “My students acquire the skills to take them to a higher level, and eventually their voice comes through in their work.” She also offers online tutoring, plus private tutoring sessions where students come to her studio for an intense, hands-on learning experience. In the future, she plans to produce online webinars as a more convenient and less expensive option.
Occasionally, Goodrich still travels to lead on-location workshops, such as a recent photo tour of the Camargue area in France. In 2016, she will lead a workshop to Iceland to photograph the landscape and traditional annual horse roundup. Her Santa Fe workshops offer more time for image processing and instruction in various software programs. Typically, she has around 8 to 12 attendees. However, when she taught in collaboration with Tony Sweet in November 2014, they had 16 students plus a waiting list. (Sweet is a designated Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens” photographer.) Goodrich will partner with him again on a “Creative Artistry” workshop in Santa Fe in November 2015. “It’s great to have two creative souls teaching, and the students get different perspectives,” she notes.
She has her own company, Bobbie Goodrich Fine Art Photography Workshops, and markets her workshops and webinars via an extensive email list and quarterly newsletters — as well as social media. She says her problem is having enough hours in the day to do it all. “I’m a one-woman show,” she comments. “I write newsletters, create images, teach and organize photo tours — it’s quite a job.”
Goodrich is prolific, constantly producing new work. She is currently represented by Gallery 901 in Santa Fe, with an exhibit of recent images scheduled for October 2015. She is also selling images through Rosenstil’s, a fine-art publishing company in the U.K. Recently, a company in Mexico commissioned her to create horse images for a high-end boutique hotel. Limited edition prints, on both canvas and fine-art papers, are available on her website.
She acknowledges that photography is becoming more and more accepted as an art form. In the past, when galleries represented her, she was often the only photographer amid oil painters and sculptors. “People would look at my work and ask, is that a painting or a photograph?” As for her future plans, she says she wants to continue traveling for inspiration. “There are actually some countries I haven’t visited,” she laughs.
I asked what advice she would give to an emerging professional photographer. “It depends on your goals,” she replies. “It’s one thing if you want to teach workshops and conduct tours, but it’s another matter if you want to become a photojournalist and be hired by publications. Generally speaking, you must have great work and market yourself.” She emphasizes the importance of evolving your skills and talent. “You can’t be all over the board. Wherever you want your niche to be, acquire the skill set you need to take you there. When you look at your work and say, I’m proud of this, you’re ready to share it with the world.”
To see more of Bobbie Goodrich’s work, visit www.bobbiegoodrich. com.