Hi! I'm Charlotte Gibb. Go ahead. Ask me anything!

Hi Charlotte, I admire your work. If you could have only one to two lenses, which ones would they be ? Nature photography is my favorite and I started not long ago.
thank you so much

Hey gal! Right back atcha! You are an inspiration to me and many, many others.

You have asked a very deep and important question. Thank you for that. Why one chooses to pick up the camera again and again defines so much about who we are as artists. And why the camera? Why not a brush, or a pen, or a musical instrument? For me, the answer is simple. It is because I am compelled to create. It is a deep and important part of who I am. I am also a musician. And I am a writer. I have picked up a paint brush from time to time. Made jewelry. I have dedicated my life to creating beauty in a world that cries out to be understood.

But why the camera? Before I started photographing nature, I was making photos of my family, concerts, protests, and stuff I noticed that seemed interesting. It wasn’t until I started photographing Yosemite National Park my soul started to sing. In all honesty, I think I was a little depressed at the time. Nature photography lifted me out of that dark place and gave me purpose. Yosemite National Park was and continues to be my muse. My husband and I had been going to Yosemite to celebrate our anniversary each year. As we would leave the park, the tears would start. I hated leaving. I felt such a strong connection to that place. When I directed my camera at Yosemite’s beautiful features, I felt as if I was finally able to scratch an itch that had been bugging me for years. So, it’s not just the medium that excites me, but the muse.


Hi Randy, Thanks for raising a very interesting question. There certainly seems to be a lot of discussion and lines being drawn around the various forms of self-expression in the genre of nature/landscape photography! I hadn’t really thought about Graphic Design possessing a lot of rules, but you’re right. There are certain accepted conventions to which designers adhere. However, when I was a practicing graphic artist, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder to see what other graphic artists were doing or not doing correctly. I’ve always felt that art is the one area where anything goes. And it should be that way. Creative self expression is how we move the needle, creating new ways to think about things, or new approaches to the same old subjects. I mean, if we were building bridges, then that would be different, right? We would demand that engineers and builders adhere to best practices so that our structures don’t collapse. But we’re talking about art. No one get’s hurt if a photographer decides that they want to change the color of the sky. There are exceptions, of course. Downright plagiarism is wrong no matter what. In art school, you would risk expulsion for plagiarizing another artist’s work. Photojournalism is another genre that holds itself to a different standard. Otherwise, I’m with you on this one. There is room for everyone to do whatever floats their boat.

Maybe it’s apologies from my side for misinterpreting the earlier post on transtioning.

I think critical mass is certainly a big part part of it especially when you can see great intimate shots from the likes of yourself, Alex Noriega and Alister Benn (here in the UK). Once the form of the images is recognised (by the general photography public) as being legit, it starts to catch on and then snowballs. This is not a criticism of the style, merely an observation - I love looking at intimate work.

I certainly think that the abstract landscape has a more ‘articstic’ appeal to it, especially in terms of it being more creative and as a result more appealing to potetially hang on a wall. But like you said, we can speculate all day if we like :slight_smile:

Thanks for taking the time to reply!

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Hi Veronica, Welcome to the discussion! I really appreciate your question because is an easy one for me to answer. I was just in Yosemite a few days ago, and I wanted to carry only two lenses to make my load a bit lighter. I picked my Canon 70-200mm ƒ2.8L and my Canon 24-70mm ƒ2.8L II lenses. If it was just one lens, I would choose the 70-200mm. It is my precious!

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Hi Charlotte. I love your work. I’m looking forward to meeting you at Out of Yosemite :slightly_smiling_face:.
My question. In what ways do you (if you do) separate the commercial enterprise of photography vs. your personal need to create images that fulfill and inspire you?

@Eugene_Theron, I’m flattered to be mentioned as helping bring the intimate popularity, but I’m merely following in the footsteps of the incredible photographers who made those kinds of images for decades before I even picked up a camera!

Now for my question: @Charlotte_Gibb, how do you continue to find fresh subjects and photographs that intrigue you when primarily shooting one place for as long as you have (Yosemite?) I know the park is extensive and there are surely small treasures yet undiscovered, as well as all sorts of light and weather and seasonal conditions that are always changing. But how do you stay internally engaged and interested and inspired to create?

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Yes, I think you nailed it. It’s hard not to get caught up with whatever is popular at the moment. Personally, I just try to keep pushing the envelop of my own creativity. When I feel stuck creatively, I start taking chances with new ways of looking at things. Most of the time, these are spectacular fails. You never see those. But, once in a while, I end up with something that starts to move the needle again. Thanks again for raising these important questions, Eugene!

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Hi Jack, I’m looking forward to meeting you too! Your work is breathtaking. Thanks for your question.

It is definitely a fine line to walk, separating the commercial aspects of photography with my personal desire to create images that please me. I’m not a starving artist, but I don’t want to get too caught up in creating work to appeal to popular opinion. After all, I spent years of my life creating commercial artwork for others. This time around, I worry less about pleasing others and instead focus on creating the best work I can. Like my mom used to say, “If you do what you love, the money will follow.” I hope she was right!

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Hi Alex, thanks for the question! It would be disingenuous to say that I always feel inspired by Yosemite each and every time I go there. Sometimes I do get, well, bored with my own work. But, that’s not a bad thing. In those moments, I just fall back on my intense love of the place, and usually something will light a creative spark. Either that or I head to the bar. There’s nothing like a glass of wine to restore my sense of creative genius. :grin:

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Hi Charlotte,
In some of your answers you talked about your field work and your ideas on pp. My question is in regards to your b/w images. Jack Curran in the last AMA explained how he shoots in color, but he “sees” in b/w and only pp in b/w. On your website most of your images are in color but you do have a b/w gallery. At what point do you see the image as best in b/w; is it at time of capture or when you are pp at your computer? Please explain your thought process in deciding on b/w. Thanks.

Hi Charlotte, do you use a tracker when during astrophotography? I have a hard time finding Polaris in the scope to achieve polar alignment. Any suggestions.

Hi Nicole, thanks for your question! Actually, I do own a tracker. I am completely intrigued with the idea of photographing far off nebula or other heavenly bodies. However, I am probably the last person to advise you on how to it. Mine is barely out of the box, but I look forward to playing with it after I have had a chance to read the manual. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!

Hi Charlotte,
Because I have taken a class from you I know that you are super tuned into colors. Are colors emotional connections or thoughtful connections to what you select. How did your sensitivity to colors come about?
Paul Gronhovd

Hi Chris,
Thanks for noticing my meager b/w collection! I used to shoot almost exclusively in b/w back in my film days, but when I switched to digital, I was seduced by the magic of color photography. Still, I get a bit misty-eyed when I remember the smell of fixative in a darkened room.

Training your eye to “see” in b/w takes time and practice. Since I work mostly in color these days, my eye is trained toward color work. But, I noticed recently when I brought out my old film camera — a Pentax ME — and loaded a roll of tri-x film, all my b/w instincts were right there again. That’s because I had an intent to make b/w images. So, that informs me that intent in the field is very important.

Here’s my thought process.

Composition is always my first consideration. A composition might have all the right elements arranged in terms of shapes, tonal values, and subject, but in some instances color can actually detract from a composition. In those cases, I will consider removing some, if not all, the color from an image. Also, if there is an image where the color is clearly not adding anything substantive to the picture, out it goes. Here is a before/after example of a RAW file in color that I decided to convert to B&W.

Photographers like Jack Curran, John Sexton, Alan Ross, Cole Thompson, and Chuck Kimmerle are masters of b/w and all work with the landscape as a subject. I wrote a small humble article on the subject on my blog, if you are interested. http://charlottegibbblog.com/black-white-photography-still-relevant/

Hi Charlotte! Thanks for doing this AMA. I’ve admired your work for a long time and I know you do a lot of your own printing so I was wondering, to what extent is the idea of the final print part of your approach to taking and processing an image?

Charlotte, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I have to say that I’ve been a fan for a while, but that really picked up after your release of “Last Sunset”. I also see some elements or similarities to Charlie Cramer and Bill Neill’s work in the medium-scale scenes from the Sierra. As someone who “grew up” with Galen Rowell’s bigger vision of the Sierra, it’s always so beautiful to see those fragments that also speak to the larger surroundings.

So, the general question: do you photograph anywhere else, and – if so – what’s been your experience with it? Have you tried other ranges? Similar, like the Wind River Range (glaciated granite like the Sierra), or different like the Inyo/Whites (metamorphic)? Personally, I enjoy photographing across the west, but then when I see a portfolio like yours I wonder if I shouldn’t try to stick to one area more often and really develop my connection to one “place”.


Hi Charlotte, I appreciate many of your works and as a lover of the intimate landscape, I congratulate you in representing an incredible place, in an incredible way, with a great compositive and research care, the result of a great study.
I wanted to ask you, are almost your favorite focal points? Which goal would you gladly leave at home? Should you choose a lens, as the only one for your photographic excursion, which one would you choose?

Hi Paul,
I do love color! Yes, we all have emotional responses to color, based on our gender, age, culture and other individual factors. Thoughtful vs. emotional connection? I’d say it is both. I always check in with my own emotional reaction to color before I start making any adjustments. I wrote a short article about color on my blog, and a more extensive article for Visual Wilderness, if you are interested in reading about my thoughts on this topic.

As for how I developed a sensitivity to color, I suppose it goes back to my training in my art school days. Also, I have always kept a keen awareness to color in every day life.

There is a way you could train your eye to be more sensitive to color. Have you ever used a neutral grey card? They are used to manually set an accurate white balance, but, you can also use them train your eye. Looking at stone for example, a grey rock can look a bit blue, or greenish, or lavender. If you put a neutral grey card next to something that looks plain grey to your eye, you can start to see the subtle differences in hues.

Hey Anna! It’s good to hear a question from you! Yes, you’re correct. I do all of my own printing, except for the very large format sizes or special orders for metal, which I use occasionally for commercial installations.

The role of the printed piece is important to me. I don’t find it particularly satisfying to flip through images on a screen, but I love to hold a print in my hands and thoroughly inspect and experience the piece. So, yes, I do consider the needs of the print throughout the process of making an image, but I don’t dwell on it too much. Printing my work doesn’t usually pose much of a problem going from screen to print. The reason is probably because my work doesn’t tend to use a lot of strong, flashy colors that would be out of gamut for some printers. My work also leans toward low contrast, which is easier to control in the print. I hope that answers your question!