Gab Interview with Stephanie Marie Aughenbaugh

I ran across Stephanie on Gab when I put out a call to the artists to let me see their work. She told me she was a photographer, so I checked our some of her photographs. They are beautiful examples of modern nature photography. They are beautiful, serene, and in some ways a profound meditation on the impermanency of life.  Check our her work here and follow her on Gab at gab.ai/GenX1977

Below are a few of her photos she wanted to share with you. Enjoy!

dragonfly-on-antenna chemtrail-sunset full-moon-fever the-lonely-tree-in-flux wild-grass-macro

  1. Tell me about your background. Where you from and what are was your childhood like? Tell me about your family and how they have influenced your outlook on life.

I was born and raised in Western New York, 50 miles East of Buffalo and 50 miles South of Rochester, next to Letchworth State Park. I am the oldest of 8 children and my parents divorced when I was 5. I’ve moved over 150 times in my life and went to 14 different schools. I was very shy and quiet as a child and am still rather timid upon first meeting; face-to-face, anyway. Being a Keyboard Commando is much easier on the self-esteem. I am mother to a 17-year-old boy and step-mother to a 15-year-old girl. My family is my reason for living and I would take a bullet for each of them many times.

My family is very religious. My husband is the most faith-filled man I’ve ever met. I was raised in both Pentecostal and Presbyterian churches. I see this as a blessing, as it gave me a firm, stable foundation and knowledge of Right from Wrong that is necessary in day-to-day living. I sang in Church Choir for a few years and spent a lot of time in my room; listening to music and writing poetry. I didn’t handle my parents’ divorce well, so creativity was an escape for me; it still is.

  1. Have you always been an artist? What other arts do you do, if any?

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve always been creative. I sing often, I write occasionally, I dabbled in pen and ink drawings at one point after high school, and I adore my cameras. I was given my first camera when I was 12; a pink, plastic Kodak that took 110 film. Growing up near Rochester, Kodak was just the way to go. I began taking a lot of walks at that point; walking by myself and thinking was a way to get time to apart from my siblings and to enjoy nature. I still like to take walks alone, but it’s not as safe to do so now as it was in the ’80s. My first photographic subjects were headstones in a cemetery in Geneseo, NY, where I was living with my mother at that time. Death and the peace of cemeteries have always appealed to me. Over the years, I’ve gone long spaces between cameras. Since 2009 I’ve had at least 2 cameras within reach at all times. Photography has become part of me; like my hairstyle or my leather jacket. I’d be sad without it.

  1. Are you making a living off your photography, or do you have another job to support yourself?

I have sold a few of my photos, but I wouldn’t say that it constitutes a living. I am a stay-at-home caregiver for my father-in-law and my husband. My father-in-law is a Vietnam Veteran who had the misfortune of losing his right leg in an RPG attack. My husband has a myriad of health problems, that I choose not to get into, and he is disabled. I am very happy to care for them, but I am unhappy with the VA and the healthcare system, in general, of this Country. It’s one of the many reasons why I am voting for Trump.

  1. What are your aims with your art? What are you trying to communicate, and what do you hope people take away from viewing your photographs?

With each photo that I take, all I want is to evoke some sort of emotion from the viewer. Each person sees a thing differently; whether through life experiences or general perspectives of things as they are or might appear to be. There is no right or wrong answer with photography, or with art in any form, as the perception is the key. I just hope that my work is found to be beautiful, emotive, and somehow impacts a person in their core.

  1. What are your favorite subjects to photograph? I know you live in PA with your husband; how does living among nature (which seems to be your main subject) affect the way you see your world?

My favorite subjects are flowers and leaves and trees and water. I have a bit of an obsession with water; I thrive best when I live near it in some form. I think I take more photos of the sky than anything else, as the skies here are simply amazing. Living amongst the oldest trees on the Eastern Seaboard helps, too. I also enjoy taking candid photos of people. When a person is not looking at the camera, or has no idea that they are being filmed, they are at their most natural. One can capture a range of emotion in a candid shot that can never be found in a studio encounter. Mind you, I was gifted 3 entire sets of lighting and backdrops for my recent birthday, so I plan to delve into studio work in the near future. There is no reason to become stuck in a creative rut. I also enjoy architecture and cars. I guess you could say that I just like to take photos.

  1. Are there any subjects you would not enjoy photographing? Portraits, nudes, sports etc…?

I don’t do nudes. It’s a personal policy. I’ve done sports work, as my step-daughter is an avid and amazing soccer player, but nudes is where I draw my line.

  1. Which photographers have been most influential to you? I know you mentioned that you and I both have a love for Adams. Who else do you love?

I enjoy the work of Annie Leibovitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David LaChapelle, Andreas Gursky, Edward Curtis, David Muench … and I am discovering new talent daily.

  1. What is your setup? What gear do you use? Do you Photoshop your photos?

I use a Canon Powershot SX60 HS, a Canon Powershot SX50 IS, filters (polarizer, neutral density, UV of course, macro filters, and a few others), a magnifier that I made from the viewfinder glass out of a Kodak Duaflex camera that I hot-glued into a spice jar lid and then wrapped black electrical tape around (to block out unnecessary light) – I use it in macro work, a box of multi-colored sunglasses and lenses for color work, a tripod, my studio kits, a remote switch, flash filters, extra SD cards and batteries, and my laptop. I use Photoshop with Nik filters and Topaz filters (and I also use GIMP) to boost contrast and color in my shots and to reduce noise.

  1. What is your process like? A lot of writers and artists have a set process for getting themselves into the right headspace. Do you have one, or do you take your gear and go for it?

There is no process. Either I feel like taking photos or I don’t. Most of the time, the shot presents itself to me; I’m just the messenger. I have created a few shots, but most of my work is as I find it. God is a far more capable Creator and Artist than I’ll ever be.

  1. I know you are on the Trumptrain, and we’ve just had the third debate. Tell me what the mood in PA is like towards Trump. Do you think he has a shot at winning the state?

Trump owns it in Pennsylvania. I have seen exactly 3 signs that are pro-Hillary and 2 of them have been spray-painted with X’s by the home owner to make a point. We like our Rights and we like our Guns here. We have Trump’s back. On a cool note, my husband has been an Independent Democrat since he turned 18 and he changed his Registration to Republican so he could vote for Trump in the Primaries. We have converted all but 2 people that we know to Trump and we are a force to be reckoned with. If Trump does Not win Pennsylvania, it is because of voter fraud.

  1. Tell me how you would describe your political view.

I was raised with God, guns, and righteous indignation. I am Republican and Conservative, through and through. I am pro-life but I maintain that Everyone has Free Will. I do not agree with Gay Marriage, but again, I believe that Everyone has Free Will. I know that All Lives Matter and that the lines that are being drawn between us now are forms of subterfuge created by those who wish to control us. I get my news from InfoWars, Bill Still, Sean Hannity, Project Veritas, Wikileaks, occasionally Anonymous, and my Bible. The Main Stream Propaganda Machine is a waste of my time. I also boycott the NFL, but that’s a byproduct of idiocy and propaganda.

  1. Do you find yourself on the outside politically of most of the other artists and photographers that you know?

I don’t judge people because I do not want to give them license to judge me, so I rarely allow a person’s policies or ethics to determine their worth as an artist. The content speaks to me or it doesn’t. We are not meant to judge; we are to Be judged.

  1. Which issues are most important to you? What do you care deeply about?

The issues that matter most to me are issues of maintaining the Constitution of this Country, to include all of the Amendments; All of them. I want to see Conservative judges on the Supreme Court to replace the Honorable Justice Scalia. I want to see Trump build that Wall! I lived in Southern California for 2 years – I saw the illegal immigrant problems and the effects of it firsthand. I want to know that my children are given a shot at a decent future; perhaps not the opportunities we were given, but something better than chaos and damnation. I want people to stop disrespecting our Flag and begin to show true Patriotism again,

  1. Do you consider yourself a religious person? How does your view on faith and politics influence your photography? Does it influence your subject or perhaps the way you frame a series of photographs?

I am a very faith-filled person, but I do not consider myself to be religious. Religion means to be regulated or restricted and God wants us to be free. I was raised with religion; I respect others’ views and beliefs and I would never tell a person that they were bad or wrong for what they believe in. I very strongly believe that we are nearing the End Times as described in Revelations, but I also know that things need to happen in a certain order, as described by God to John, and that these things are not happening in that order as yet. I watch and wait, as I am urged to do, and when the time comes, I know where my soul is headed and I am content with that. My faith in God affects Everything in my life. God is everywhere and He is in everything. I see God in the light of a smile and in the bud of a flower. So yes, my faith influences my photography very much; Politics, however, might not be as influential on my photography as my faith is. I admit that during this election process I have been more aware of it, but I am not going out of my way to make a political point through my photos.

  1. What inspires you?

Life itself, in all its ways, inspires me. I have been depressed for a large part of my life and I wake up every day and whisper a thank you for the chance to live for another day. A person who is very close to me is an attempted suicide survivor, and it has shown me just how precious life really can be. There is nothing that cannot be shown in a photo. It is up to the viewer to decide whether or not the photo is worth the look. I’m just the messenger, as I said. I see the show that God has given and I try to capture what I see. Sometimes I get lucky. I am blessed to be able to take photos and share them with others, either way.

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