As you dive into the interview between Katie Andelman and Edie Layland below, click the smaller photos to enlarge!
Love inspires me. Romantic, crazy, mind blowing emotions inspire me. And that other kind of love, the deep inner connection to humanity inspires me.
The feeling you get when you know in your heart we are all connected and in love with each other. I think about people who feel this connection so strongly that they risk their lives for strangers.
And the love we feel for our own, our children, our brothers and sisters, our family, all these kinds of love inspire me.
I want people to feel it if they don’t. I think the reason I mostly photograph children is because, unless someone has killed their spirit, they are passionate.
You can always capture the most amazing moments of pure joy and love of life in children if you wait for it.
I love your use of light. Can you tell me more about how you find it, and why it makes such an impact in your images?
Light is everything in photography, right? You can get everything else right, but if the light is wrong, the photo is wrong.
When I first started in portraiture I didn’t understand how to work with light and I knew that unless I got that figured out my portraits were not going to look good.
I flew from Los Angeles to Minnesota where my photographer niece Kari Layland lives. She has a thriving family photo business.
She let me follow her around for a few days watching how she placed her subjects in light. After that things started to fall into place.
Light is the first thing I look for when taking photos. I don’t always get to do photography in places with ideal light, but I look for the best options in every location and I am careful to adjust my camera settings to take advantage of what’s available.
I started photography about 12 years ago on my sixtieth birthday. I felt a tremendous need to spend my time doing something artistic, something I loved.
I quit selling real estate and started to learn photography even though there was no way I could afford to do it. Luckily it worked out financially.
We spoke a little about ageism on the phone.
Can you elaborate on ways you experienced it, and perhaps give some advice for moving past ageism as a society and individually.
I’m a 72 year old grandmother and that probably means less than you might think. It’s natural for human beings to categorize people and things.
I think it’s a tendency we need to be aware of in ourselves. I used to have preconceived ideas about old people. Now I check my preconceived ideas about all people. I have to remind myself to do it. It doesn’t come naturally to me.
In many ways at my age I’m still the same person I was 50 years ago. I don’t feel like a different person. I’m surprised when I see myself in a mirror. Because on the inside I still feel like me.
Life becomes much more about how I feel and much less about how I look. Why even bring this up? Because I think people fear getting older and that’s a mistake that can rob you of your joy. I want everyone to know, getting older is a gift.
It’s the gift of time, our most precious possession. It’s what you do with that time that matters.
Here’s what my life is like at 72. I’m 5’ 2”, I weigh 115, I walk or ride a bike 25-30 miles a week. I have at home exercises I also do. I eat a low fat, healthy diet. I love getting out in a field with kids and a dog and doing photography. I love editing using Photoshop and Camera Raw.
I sing and write songs. I was taking Hip Hop dance lessons before COVID cancelled them, but a dancing teacher friend and I are in the planning stages of doing TikTok style dances together outdoors.
I live upstairs from my wonderful son, daughter in law, and 2 granddaughters ages 1 and 4. I’ve been my older granddaughter’s in-house teacher since she was 1 1/2. My granddaughters have never had a babysitter. I’m also very close to my daughter and to her husband. And I have a dating life. I love life.
I understand that it can be hard and maybe a little scary to see people walking hunched over with a cane or sitting in a wheel chair. Many older people have wrinkles and sags that make them look grouchy when they’re not. I often see old people struggling just to get out and get their groceries, but it doesn’t scare me.
These are brave people who know that they’re brave. It’s tough to do what they do, but they’re out doing it. Being a hero in your own life is not a waste of time. And if you smile and say hello you will often be quite amazed by how lovely old people look when they smile back at you.
I have a story to tell you. I had migrated from my usual 50 plus hip hop dance class to a more energetic class where no one knew me and a song by Lizzo called Truth Hurts came up. After a few moments with the song playing the teacher looked at me and said, “I’m gonna find a better song.” I looked around and almost everyone was looking at me.
Well, I had joined the dance class to have fun learning hip hop dance, not to change the culture. So I gently reminded everyone that the words in the song had not been invented recently.
Everyone laughed and we went on with the class.
A lot of artists are struggling creatively right now, do you find creating your images has helped, and if so, how?
I am currently struggling, but not because of COVID or any of our other problems. I want to do work that has meaning and makes a contribution. I am working hard to create story telling images on a very limited budget. I guess I’m so distracted by my artistic problems that the other stuff seems like just an inconvenience.
Still, I have to say, your story telling is quite powerful, I can see it so clearly and vibrantly throughout your work.
You shared with me about your unique idea, a way to combine both your talents. Can elaborate on this concept?
I’ve come up with a ridiculous new project. I was a professional singer in my younger days. Music is my first love. I’ve always thought that pairing music with photography would add immensely to the emotional impact of the image.
You can add music to a still photo by adding a timeline to the photo and putting your music there, but on imagining what that would look like I decided I wanted a moving picture.
So I bought an inexpensive cinema camera and now I need to learn to do the videography. Naturally, I will also need to learn to edit moving pictures which means learning a new software program. And somehow I need to record my songs.
I’m currently writing stories to film. I realize what a huge, complicated project this is, but it’s what I want to do, so I’m doing it, one step at a time. My hope is that my stories will be uplifting and emotional enough to help people rethink their connection to the world and to everyone.
Connection is real and it’s important. The idea that we are all connected is not a fantasy or some new age belief. The truth of it is obvious to me.
This afternoon I went outside to the garden and picked a tomato for my salad. The sunshine, the earth, the plants, the farm workers out cultivating my dinner vegetables, and my wellbeing are all connected. I want my stories to honor connection and contribute to it. There’s another word for connection.
That word is love.
If you could give 2 pieces of advice, what would they be? (Any subject)
Love everyone, but only hang out with people who bring you alive. You have a sacred right to pick your friends.
Value your time. It’s your most precious resource.