December 4, 2015

Welcome to Friday. You made it through another crazy week, so treat yourself to a little slice of calm with Friday I’m In Love, our weekly feature dedicated to digging up the artists and photographers we’re going heart-eye emoji for.

Whether she’s calmly looking out over a golden field at sunset, standing before a stormy waterfall or knee deep in a freezing lake, self-taught photographer Elizabeth Gadd captures the beauty of the natural world with grace. Having discovered a love for photography through a 365 project (taking a self-portrait every day for a year) she is always off on one adventure or another armed with camera, a nose for adventure and her loyal travel companion Pepper the dog. We caught up with Lizzy about the biggest challenges she’s faced to get the perfect image and her kickstarter-funded trip to Iceland.

UO: What was the biggest challenge of the 365 project and what was the most important thing you learnt about photography from doing this challenge?

The biggest challenge for me was to stay consistent with the project, not missing a single day throughout the year. Sometimes this meant taking super simple rushed photos on some days, and other days I could put more time and effort into each photo. I knew the best challenge to really help me grow that year was to push myself to get my creative juices flowing every day… I learned to love the creative process and to not be upset when photos didn’t turn out as planned. I learned it’s not so much about the outcome of the challenge, but the journey itself.

UO: Can you tell us about your Kickstarter-funded trip to Iceland and the images you shot there?

Two amazing friends (Rob Woodcox and Whitney Justesen) and I had the idea to embark on a photography expedition in Iceland together in May last year. We each had a photography project in mind that we wanted to bring to life in that beautiful country, so we came together with our plans and savings, and with some wonderful help and support of a few amazing people, and soon found our dreams turned into a reality. I shot the “Icelandic Red Dress Series” there, a self-portrait series that served as a reflection of my thoughts of late, my wishes to live more wholeheartedly, to not be afraid, to embrace who I am and to focus on a life lived in wonder, love and gratefulness. You can see and read more about the series and the adventures from Iceland on my blog.

UO: How much post-production is involved in your photography?

I like to keep my photos as real as possible, but enjoy spending time with each photo in Adobe Lightroom to experiment with bringing out the colors/tones/contrast to their best and most magical potential. Sometimes it just takes a few quick minutes until a photo looks exactly how I like it, and sometimes it takes a few hours of playing around. I enjoy the process!

UO: Are there any themes in your work that you are repeatedly drawn to and if so why?

I am always drawn to to the theme of landscapes/nature combined with human portraiture in a timeless and whimsical kind of way. I am deeply in love with nature and the beauty found in the mountains, forests, lakes and ocean. It’s in these places that I find my peace, and by adding the human element in my photos I hope the viewer can feel that sense of peace, awe or wanderlust that I felt in that place, too.

UO: How would you describe your style in three words?

Whimsical, wanderlust, adventure.

UO: What’s your top tip for aspiring photographers?

Keep shooting! Keep experimenting. Don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself. It may not feel like you’re getting anywhere very fast, but believe me, if you keep it up and then look back over time, you’ll realize you’ve come a long way.

UO: How do you feel when looking back at self-portraits from the past? Do you still identify with them emotionally, or are you more critical?

Oh, I’m definitely more critical looking at self-portraits from the past! The first several years of shooting were all experimental (especially during the 365 project of 2010), and looking back at many of the photos now I can’t help but laugh. There are some photos I still feel connected to on a deeper emotional level, and then many others where I can only say, “what on earth was I thinking?”. I enjoy looking back and comparing my earlier work to now. It’s interesting to me to notice the direction my style and personality has taken over the years…. and still always developing!

UO: Which image or collection of images did you find the most rewarding to shoot and why?

I’d definitely say the Icelandic red dress series was the most rewarding collection of images I’ve shot. The combination of the effort and work we put into the whole journey, along with the amazing landscapes and pushing myself to shoot even through freezing weather and sleepless nights spent camping across the country, it all led me to appreciate each photo all the more and to remember the story with each one.

UO: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in order to get the perfect shot?

The weather! I seem to always be drawn to moody weather for my photos, which often means I get to face the rain, hail, wind or snow. Throw on wearing a dress and walking into a glacial lake, and things can get cold pretty fast!

UO: What’s next for you this year and in 2016?

2016 is shaping up to be full of open possibilities and unknown opportunities, where no doubt many adventures and travelling and shooting shall commence! It’s a year with no particular plan, and I’m ready to wing it and see what happens as each month comes. Life seems to have a crazy way of taking unexpected twists and turns, and I’m here for the adventure.