Betty Girardeau

Hometown  Born in Salt Lake City, Utah; grew up in Ilion, New York (home to Remington Arms), lived 43 years in Richmond, VA.  Now lives in Vonore, TN

Day job  Retired and what I want it to be... most days.

Camera  Nikon D3100 DSLR

Adventure is being in circumstances that are not what you expected, make you do things you did not think you could do, and, finally, help to create a person who is different from what you ever thought you could or would be.

Photography is a window to the world…particularly the world as you think you see it.  The beauty is, that as you look at your images, you sometimes see that it is different and maybe better than you could have ever dreamed it would or could be.

What's one life accomplishment you are most proud of?

(It’s still a work in progress) but becoming “me,” someone I like and feel good about and what I have accomplished and continue to accomplish in life.


Person (living or dead) you’d like to meet? 

Thomas Jefferson

Best/worst food experience? 

Worst: a gyro bought at a mall.  Took one bite and threw it in the trash (ordered it because I had had a wonderful gyro in France). Best:  this is hard because I have had some fantastic food over the years, but I think the steak dinner I had at a Greenwich Village, NYC restaurant where Samuel Clements used to dine and enjoy the same cut of steak was particularly memorable.

Unique or quirky talent or skill you have? 

I can look at something and tell within a ¼” if it is fitted properly.

When did photography spark in you?

My father.  He bought and loved  a stereo camera when I was in 5th grade. (1952)  He also loved to take pictures and bought new cameras (all kinds: movie, Polaroid, slide) regularly over the years, especially as he and my mother travelled the world.  I got my first camera when I was in 7th grade: a Kodak Brownie camera with ice cube like flash bulbs.  I loved it.  My father gave me a slide camera when we traveled to Japan and the Orient in 1962.  I don’t think I really appreciated how good it was, but I did get some pretty good shots with it (over 300).  My daughter and husband gave me my first digital point and shoot when I made my trip to Oberammagau .   I loved it, and still think it has a “place” in my life (occasionally).  But Paul Hassell made me look further and want and “need” a real digital camera.  (So, Paul, it really is ALL your fault!)

How has photography shaped you?

I know I am a person that needs to create things.  I also know that I have a love/need to look at the world through a lens, though I have not appreciated until my later years that  was what I wanted to do.  I have been blessed to find many ways to channel my need to create.  Photography is just another one that adds another dimension to my life.  Changed your life or world-view?  I think my last sentence explains this a bit.  I am also a quilter.  So, if I were to describe how photography has changed my life, I would have to say that it has added another “block in my life quilt.”  Above, I mentioned that I view photography as a “window on the world.”  It captures a space in time that is uniquely “mine” (or that which belongs to the person behind the camera).  Even if others are taking a shot of the same scene or thing, your “photo” will always be yours and nobody else’s because of your particular view of the scene or object and your ability, or lack of it, to capture what you see.  Where I am now on my journey with a camera is to find a way to be really good at something that means something to me.  I am glad that I don’t feel too old to do that.

How did you hear about us? 

I found out about Paul, because he did a presentation for the Knoxville Symphony League in 2011 and I am a season ticket holder for the Knoxville Symphony. I needed to find people for programs when I became Rarity Bay Women’s Club VP in 2012 and, because the club president loved photography, I thought Paul would be a fascinating person to come present a program to the Women’s Club. Thankfully, he accepted my invitation to come and speak to our group.

What initially interested you about the workshop or tour you attended? 

See above. I was “hooked” after he came to speak to the Rarity Bay Women’s Club.

Why did you almost not come?

Never!!!  That just would not have happened.  As I said, I was “hooked” and HAD to come.  What were your hesitations, etc?  If I had any it was because I only had a point and shoot camera and I knew that that was just not going to be worth it.  So if I wanted to do a workshop or tour I had to have a DSLR camera.  I have a VERY supportive husband, and, because of my birthday, helped make that happen before I went on the Smoky Mountains Workshop in October, 2012.

The most rewarding thing you learned or returned home with? 

Getting up in the dark, standing out in the cold on a mountain top in Tennessee or along a river in Wyoming is sooo amazing and worth it that words cannot describe the experience.  That feeling of being there in that space at that time and capturing it in an image for all time is so special and is totally unique to the person experiencing it; it just can’t be described. You can explain how it feels, but only up to a point, because it is like someone who is blind asking you to describe the colors in a crystal.

Tell me a little about Paul as an instructor?

He really wants you to learn and to experience the wonders that he knows are out there.  He  never makes you feel that you are stupid or slow (even when you are pretty sure that you are both!) Teachers need to share their passion, and that is what I think Paul is trying to do. What makes him unique?

While he unquestionably is so very talented, he is not pompous about it. If you need help, he is there for you.  He allows you to make your own mistakes.  If there is anything I wish there was more of in a workshop or tour it would be some more critical critiquing, especially for those that are “newbies” like me. The last morning in Wyoming he did that, and I learned SO much about what I could do with my camera in a very short space of time. 

What is your next adventure? 

Tomorrow. California at Christmas and another adventure in Sonoma, and next October with my sister in Spain and Portugal.

If time, money, and travel were not an obstacle, where would you travel to photograph and what would you do? 

One of these I “think” may happen: Iceland.  But I still want to go to Tibet.  In both places, so totally different, I want to see the glorious world for myself and try to capture a few moments (or more) in time.

How do you feel about HDR? (haha!) 

I can’t believe you really asked this!  But, since you did, I will say that I think it is another fascinating aspect now available to photographers.  To be able to have the ability to capture light through a mechanism or mechanisms and fuse them to be what was “really” out there is amazing.  I “play” with HDR on my iPhone, but, so far that has been my only personal experience.  But I do know what it means.

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