Accomplished photographer and Florida native, Helyn Davenport, expands on her 25 years of award winning photography to include digital manipulation of her work. Combining years of dedication to promoting the industry, the appreciation of the arts, and leadership to art-related societies, Helyn delves into the virtual world of the Internet. She is a member of the International Association of Digital Fine Art Printers and the Photography Jury for the Master of 2002 Annual Art Award at BTDesign Art Gallery. She serves as President of Pixiport.

A Psychology and Business major from St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida, Helyn's work has evolved from her journey through self-discovery and her gift of visual expression to one of today's most widely-acclaimed photographic artists.  With a diversified background that has included Television Production, Marketing and Counseling, Helyn's work has been featured in numerous publications and galleries. Her career has been very rewarding and has enabled her to make numerous contacts around the world.  

Continuing from Issue III in which the first part of an ongoing series of interviews was conducted, Tryst is honored to have Helyn again.

© 2003 Helyn Davenport


Tryst Interviews Helyn Davenport

Mia: My technical knowledge of photography is next to nil. Any quality photo I’ve ever taken was an accident, or pure luck and I can count the number of pictures that have survived. I use my tripod to hang my clothes on; but, for the sake of my readers and perhaps, photography buffs out there, I feel compelled to ask you a few technical questions about the field of photography.
What camera(s), equipment, paper, processing do you use most frequently that you would recommend?

Helyn: Currently I am using a Canon F1 SLR and a HP Digital camera. I use many types of lens on my SLR. Paper depends on what I want from my image. I love Hahnemuhle Canvas for my florals, Epson gloss, Schoellershammer Linen, Matte and I am trying out many new papers from Digital Art Supplies multi-pack which has 2 of about 25 types of papers. They also send you swatches of papers as well. You would be amazed by how many types of papers there are!

Mia: How do digital cameras compare to traditional 35mm’s?

Helyn: Both good and bad. The main difference for me is having a "Lightroom" versus the Darkroom; i.e., no chemicals, sun instead of darkness. With lightroom costs way down from experimenting with the papers one would have to go thru working on an image (could be outrageously high) now one can do even more with software programs. This has opened doors for many artists. The digital has limitations, i.e., shutter speed, but now they are incorporating SLR technology with digital and I look forward to trying them. With digital, no film, so cost is way down. Film is wonderful to use. To achieve B&W crispness though, film is still ahead. I have more control now with my SLR, as I can use my aperture and shutter speed which gives me complete control over what I am shooting. But again I have not used the newer digital systems yet, but from what I have read they sound great.  Overall, I enjoy working with both of them.

Mia: As far as digital manipulations, what software do most photographers use and why?

Helyn: I think many use Photo Shop and Paint Shop Pro, but there are many other programs out there. Photo Shop is the work horse as it can handle large files better than Paint Shop. Sizes of photos are very important and you need large files and DPI's to create large images. I work with about five image editors and each one offers something unique that I will use depending on what I am working on and need. Some of my finished pieces have gone thru many of them.

Mia: Where and how do you come up with the titles to your work? One of your galleries you have is “Pictorialism”. I’m not familiar with that term. Could you explain what that term means, and what photo would best represent it?

Helyn: I think Alfred Stieglitz started this movement back in 1900.The Pictorialists rejected “straight” or Realist 
photography in favor of taste and feeling. Pictorialist photos actually realized a personal artistic vision in the same way 
that a painting or sculpture might. Interpreting the image, inner representations of an image. I think my florals and 
landscapes shows this:

Gallery B02 | Gallery B07 | Gallery A16 

Mia: When taking a photograph, do you have in mind how you want to compose the shot? In other words, are the end results what you wanted to achieve or they often accidents, the results of experiments?

Helyn: Well this is a natural thing. First you must have all the mechanics down so that part is like breathing. Then you  are unaware of constructing. My inner self takes over and so the composition, layout, what ever else, happens from within. I think this is what makes an artist. For we are speaking thru deep emotions that are not connected to the "reality" of the world. This voice (emotion) within speaks our art.

Sometimes have no idea why I chose to shoot an image in a certain way, but eventually sometimes comes out. So to answer what I wanted to achieve or are they accidents, I am not sure?

Mia: What things about a piece of artwork strikes you instantly? And what elements appeal to you when you think about them later? Can you give me examples?

Helyn: Harmony within disharmony. "Man's Fury" is one. The layout is within harmony. But the whole image is disharmony, not only in the images but in the message. When I look at art, it is first the gut feeling it brings to me: the affect it has on me. Then the what, whys, where come into play. I love being around art for the diverse emotions it brings--from a laugh to tears. All the emotions we have are found in art.

Mia: I think of "vision" as a need to seek expression of one’s views/reactions to the world. What makes your vision so unique besides the incredible range and diversity of your work, is that it is forceful, intense and in many ways very dark.

For instance, your B&W photographs in this issue have been darkened. They have the essence of being lost in a dream: the feel, mood, tense and movement of one's dream state. I find them eerie, disturbingly surreal. Even darker are your images in Pixiport’s Conceptual Gallery. I was fascinated by some of the more darker images: Social Crimes and L’odeur d’une sorciere appear mangled. Your use of geometrical shapes in: GB6-06, GB6-08, GB6-10, are very sharp - like broken glass and are almost painful to look at. They’re very macabre and tormented, violent.  But I don’t sense evil or fear. Mostly what I get from these pieces is a social message; an objective, but intuitive and internal view of man’s destructive forces. What made me curious was why you were drawn to express these “nightmarish” images.

Helyn: My art reflects many things in our world. The beauty and the horror. It is the world as I see it, good and bad. I am passionate about my feelings whether it be about injustice, man's inhumanity to man. It exists so I express it. 

Mia: Helyn, if there were any way that you could create more hours in a day, you would. However, being limited to 24 hours in a day, how do you divide up those hours? For instance, what portion do you reserve for eating, sleeping? and what portion of a day do you use working on your website, promoting other artists; and most importantly, how much time do you spend on creating your own artwork?

Helyn: Oh wow! I forgot to put sleep and eat on MY list. I must try that. I have no timeline, or structured time. I just 
"do". The main thing is I am able to "Focus" on whatever task is at hand. Actually in anything I do from work to looking at a bird, for that moment I'm focused completely on the bird and the wonderful emotions felt. I spend an incredible amount of time working.  I also have may other interests, baking, raising fish, gardening and so on.  Relaxing is walking with Sarge down the oak lined road and viewing natures world around me. It energizes me. I have always been able to "get things done" again I think my ability to "focus" is why.

Mia: What other media have you tried, or wanted to experiment with?

Helyn: I have always wanted to do sculptures and play a harp. I would like a huge chunk of stone and want to chisel at it. And I'm interested in doing film, movies, I'm toying with a few ideas there.

I have an artist who has done a series for a children book and it is one of my next projects. But I want to do an online 
venture that the likes has not been seen before, (of course).  I'm looking for a writer for the story now. Any 

Mia: Is there anything personal you'd like to share with our readers? 

Helyn: Follow your own heart and dreams. Explore, learn the rules and basics of photography, then break them. :) Think outside of the box. Most of all Enjoy your journey. It is ok to be afraid, it is ok to feel pain, it is not ok to let it rule your life.

to be continued...

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