Meet Ann Parks, Abstract Photographer

Let's get something straight. For the record, I never intended to be a photographer.

Abstract photographer in cold ocean water in Iceland taking images
Photo credit, Nathaniel Smalley.

The truth is, I wanted to be a writer.

It was quite by accident that I became an abstract photographer.

And I really do not like being cold. Trust me, that water I'm treading in above is cold. Mark that as Iceland cold. Heck, there's ice cubes floating in that water. And my waterproof boots were not waterproof. Not one bit!

I got into photography because I wanted to be a travel writer. That's how I ended up purchasing a camera. And in order to learn how to use that camera, I signed up for photography workshops like this one in Iceland. It all sounded good. And in retrospect, it was. But it was hard, and it was cold. You could say I had some harsh awakenings.

I'm going to save you the long version of five years of struggling. Not in the ice water, silly. That was just 10 days. My journey learning the basics of photography is the five-year-thing. As an adult trying to learn something new, with technically-advanced features, and throw in creativity with it, I'm sure you can imagine moments of sheer exhaustion. Right around every corner was that nagging desire to give up. And then there'd be a shot of dopamine that hooked me like I'd taken an illegal substance. I'd look at what I created in awe. And I'd continue.

After four years, though, I was no closer to being a travel writer.

While I had learned a lot about photography in those five years, I'd not submitted a single travel article with photos to any publication. So my goal of becoming a travel writer seemed so misguided. And that made me feel lost.

I sat in the passenger seat on our way to Banff National Park. I was excited by the trip, but since one of my superpowers is my analytical nature, I questioned my path and purpose in life now that I'd stopped working at the corporate gig I'd had for my entire career. After catching up on lost sleep and doing whatever I felt like doing, I realized I needed more than just play time.

Bill, my boyfriend, sensed my uneasiness and asked, "What is it that excites you when you are taking photos? What can you see yourself focused on?”

I struggled to answer. I was feeling sorry for myself. I’d spent five years investing time and money in a travel writing program. At the first conference, I left convinced I needed a camera. What the speaker said made sense. "People love visuals. They aren’t going to read a magazine article unless there are pictures. And magazines don’t have the staff or funding to hire a photographer to send to the place you are writing about. If you are there creating a story, develop visuals too. That’s how you’ll sell your travel articles."

Taking up photography sounded so simple.

Abstract photographer in snowstorm at Grand Canyon
Photo credit, Bill Marson

But learning photography was so confusing. And usually pretty cold too.

I went to a camera store. What felt good in my hand slipped into a plastic shopping bag. I did not know how to use the camera, so I signed up for travel photography lessons from the same group I’d been learning about travel writing. There was a mixture of excitement and fear as I realized that what I bought required many other purchases I never intended or budgeted to make. Lenses, filters, cases, a backpack, a tripod I hated after opening two times, more lenses, another bag, the next tripod—it was an endless back and forth to the camera store.

I struggled with the math of photography. I paid for and attended several photography workshops. Once in a while, I’d take a photo I loved. I couldn’t stop looking at it. The rest were pure garbage.

And then, I signed up for a critique session. Weeks one and two of the critique sessions were fun. I got to see my peers’ travel photos, learn tips on cropping and composition from our mentor, and see how processing could bring the images to life. Then, on week three, he said, “Ann, you seem attracted to shapes, patterns, and textures. You need to add people and places to these. That's what people want to see in travel magazines.”

Abstract photographer taking photos at sunset in Grand Canyon
Photo credit, Bill Marson

How could I have been so off course?

So sitting in the car, looking up towards rugged mountains, I faced reality. “I like patterns, textures, shapes. I hate travel photography. I don’t want to ask people to sign a legal form so that I can take a picture of them. I don’t want our meals to get cold because I need to take photos at a restaurant. I don’t want to be ‘on’ so I can interview someone at any moment. I need my space, my calm."

"The photography I like to take is abstract photography. I’d like to have a website and write about abstract photos. I know that sounds weird, doesn’t it?”

Bill smiled. He kept driving, but I could tell he was thinking. He finally said, “How about calling it Annstracts?”

Abstract photographer in slot canyon taking pictures
Photo credit, Bill Marson

Contemplating my next step

I didn’t say anything. I’ve never been good at hiding my reactions or lying. But at that moment, I could have won a poker game. I picked up my cell phone and to him, it looked like I was bored from the drive and just surfing the net. But what I was doing was pulling up the domain name.

After a few clicks, I looked up from my phone. “Done.”

He took his eyes off the road to look at me. “What?”

“I just secured Annstracts. The domain. I love it. It’s me. Let’s go look for abstracts!”

"Accidental Abstract Photographer of the Year:" award-winning, best-selling, top-rated!

Let's be honest with each other. There isn't an "Accidental Abstract Photographer of the Year" award. If there was, I would have tripped over it and ended up in the ER. I am not the person to run off at the mouth about accolades, awards, ratings, and over the top sales. I do this because it makes me feel alive.

Sure, I could list out the achievements I've had. Show you the exhibitions I've trotted off to lugging prints around. I could list out the galleries where my artwork has spent a couple months on a vacation from me. I could note the publications and share the magazines were my work has been showcased.

Those events meant something to me. But I've got a sneaky intuition that those things don't mean that much to you.

But just in case, here it is: proof that I am certified with an official stamp of approval.

Funny Certified Artist License

Don't buy art for your wall.

Buy art for your soul. Your heart. That innate human desire for joy and connection.

The reality is, there are a billion artists in the world. Amazing we all fit on that little globe, right?

Somehow, someway, some act of force majeure brought you and I together. And that's good enough for me. Whether or not you are in the market for wall art, I welcome you. I hope you'll sign up for my private email list so I can share exclusive abstract photo reveals. That sounds fancy, right? If you are interested in purchasing art, I'm here to make the process easy. Just reach out to me.

And if what I offer as wall art doesn't work for you, your home, or office, I hope you will consider that the most important thing in purchasing art is that you are not buying an object that hangs on a wall. You are buying hundreds of hours of errors, experiments, frustrations, and a sprinkle of pure joy. There's a piece of heart and soul in each artist's piece. So basically you are buying a small piece of someone else's life. So learn about the artist before you make that investment, just like you are doing here. And when the right artist speaks to your heart and soul, take notice.

abstract photographer Ann Parks holding globe
Photo credit, Connie Owens

Now that you know me, dive into the deep end of the pool, the abstract art prints galleries.