by Jane Conner-ziser Published 01/12/2012
In terms of Society Conventions, Jane Conner-Ziser is now something of a much cherished fixture, having delivered workshops and seminars at around half a dozen of them now, and she's looking forward with enthusiasm to experiencing the buzz that will come with the fresh environment of the Hilton Metropole in January.
"I do get a buzz from speaking at the Convention," she says, "but that's not primarily why I do it. I speak at conventions because I have a lot of knowledge to share and I love doing it. I also love the fact that the Societies represent a truly international cross-section of photographers from so many different facets of the business. It's educational and inspiring for me to have the opportunity to see works from other fantastic artists and to attend an event that allows me to meet and get to know them. I have made many good friends and have acquired my own list of favourite photographers who inspire me. I truly enjoy sharing with this community."
When she started out Jane had little idea that she might find herself so heavily involved in the world of professional photography, being someone who saw herself more as a traditional artist. "Basically I'm an artist who picked up a camera because it was creative and the results were saleable," she says. She was fortunate to have a fantastic grounding in the business by working for a hugely respected local photographer Bill Potthast, who mentored and encouraged her and introduced her to the intricacies of running a successful small business, and through Bill she became an expert in the darkroom and took her first steps on the road to becoming one of the most highly regarded retouchers of her generation. She also took on board from Bill the principle of giving back to the business and of freely sharing expertise with those who are just coming through the ranks.
"Prior to the mid 70s, unless you knew someone and could apprentice there was scarce opportunity to learn retouching arts," she says. "Retouchers had little communication, no organisation and no feedback on their work or retouching processes. They jealously guarded their secrets and photographers jealously guarded them. Skilled retouching artists were kept in back rooms and introduced as 'receptionists.' Bill never treated me like that. He was proud of me and encouraged me."
These days the techniques Jane developed for facial retouching and enhancement and portrait painting are widely emulated by photographers and digital artists worldwide through her classes and educational products. She was named as one of Canon's Explorers of Light in their PrintMaster programme, is an Adobe Photoshop Expert, a Corel Painter Master and a Craftsman Photographer of the Professional Photographers of America. In addition, she's a past co-chair for the Digital and Advanced Imaging Committee for the Professional Photographers of America. Quite a list of achievements, and the good news is that Jane is dedicated to passing on her knowledge and ensuring that those just coming through have the chance to learn how to emulate her techniques and to offer their customers results that they will be happy to pay for.
This kind of background ensures that Jane's workshops at the Convention are always packed out, and anyone intending to go along and hear her speak is recommended to turn up early or to pre-book a ticket. "For the 2013 Convention I'll be giving three presentations on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday that are related to software and photographic art," she says. "I'll be showing practical and profitable studio and wedding retouching, restoration of old or damaged photographs and creative fine art painting. I'll be working with Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter primarily, and my focus will be on theory plus technique applied using basic fine art principles. I believe that what one chooses to do and why is the most important part of any art."
Jane's motivation these days is the same as that of any photographic artist. "I'm looking for creative expression, desire for perfection and a thirst for learning, creating and doing better every day," she says. "Our individual ways of visualising, thinking and implementing our art make each of us unique. If I had to describe my own style I would use adjectives like fresh, positive, colourful, fun, sweet and inviting."
As for her next big challenge, she says quite simply that it's all about focus. "Photography and especially technology and art come easily for me, and as I enjoy variety I find it simple to wander around in it, which is a good thing in today's world. I have a desire though to put together more focused learning opportunities through which I can share my knowledge and experience better with those who would like to learn from me. I need to learn a lot more about online sharing technology, and this is something I intend to do in my 'spare' time."
Like all the best photographers, Jane never stops learning, and along with the chance to pass on her knowledge the big attraction of the Convention for her is the opportunity to sit in on the workshops being delivered by other photographers whom she knows and admires. "I'll definitely be trying to catch up with Trevor and Faye Yerbury and Damian McGillicuddy," she says. "Those three inspire me, and I never miss an opportunity to see them."
This open-minded attitude and the need she has to hand out and receive knowledge is what drives Jane on and it's what ensures that she continues to be one of the most compelling educators out there on the circuit.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
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