Contributor: Angie Payne
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Shotzr Handle: @angiepaynephotos
Instagram Handle: @angelajpayne
Q&A with Shotzr Featured Contributor Angie Payne
Shotzr: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Angie: I am a 33-year-old climber and photographer based in Boulder, CO. I have been climbing competitively for more than 20 years, whereas my involvement in photography has only become serious in the past few years.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Somehow, in the flatlands of the Midwest, I found the sport of climbing when I was 11. My involvement in that eventually brought me to Boulder to attend CU and, of course, climb.
Ultimately, I have climbing to thank for my interest in photography. I spent a great deal of time climbing outside in Colorado and around the country and world, and that sparked my desire to capture nature’s beauty in photos. While trying boulder problems in Rocky Mountain National Park, I would walk around and take photos with my iPhone as a way to force myself to rest in between attempts. I used Instagram to share the shots I took and soon realized that I looked forward to taking photos as much as I looked forward to climbing when I went to The Park. In addition to climbing and photography, I also love animals, coffee, beer, frosting and The Great British Baking Show.
Shotzr: You began your career as a photographer surrounded by world-renowned craftsmen like Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker. Would you say their presence was more inspiring or intimidating?
Angie: Definitely more inspiring than intimidating. The world of climbing is somewhat unique in that it is still relatively small, and it’s pretty rare (at least in my experience) to feel intimidated by anyone. On the other hand, there are countless inspirational figures in the community, and Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker are certainly among them. Some of the climber/photographers like Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, and Cory Richards, among others, are people that I first knew as climbers.
As I got more into photography, I realized just how talented these guys are in the photography world in addition to their prowess as climbers. It has been inspirational for me to see that these climbers have built incredibly successful photography careers, and I hope to do the same one day. I have also been really lucky to work with a lot of talented photographers on projects in the past where my role was that of climber/athlete. People like Keith Ladzinski and Andy Mann are photographers that I’ve gotten to know pretty well through various projects and expeditions together.
It was only after getting more serious about photography that I really began to understand just how talented these individuals are as photographers. It has been a pretty huge gift to have them as resources, and I’m very grateful for that. I do have to admit, however, that every once in a while the photographer in me does stop and remember how good they are, and sometimes that is a little intimidating. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and encouraging though, so whenever I feel intimidated, I stop to remind myself that even the best photographers had to start somewhere.
Shotzr: When we tell most people that your work prior to November of 2017 was shot with an iPhone, they are astounded. What was the best part about starting your photography career with a simple iPhone camera?
Angie: It’s true that everything on my Instagram prior to 11/9/17 was taken and edited on my iPhone, as that was a challenge that I really enjoyed for a long time. I did purchase a “real” camera sometime in 2015, I think, but I was very intimidated by it and so I didn’t use it much and stuck to my self-imposed rule of iPhone only on Instagram until late last year.
I think the best part about starting on an iPhone was that I didn’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects of using a camera and was able to focus solely on composition and light. I learned how important those two aspects are in making a good photo, and I think that was an important lesson to learn early on.
I get excited about finding and taking photos, but I don’t get excited about the gear involved, so the simplicity of the iPhone appealed to me. Of course, I eventually realized that my phone was limiting what I could do with my photography, and forced myself to learn to use my “real” camera. I’m still very intimidated by my camera a lot of the time, but I have finally gotten to the point where I usually like the photos I take with it more than my iPhone photos.
Shotzr: Please share a bit about your experience so far being a Contributor for Shotzr.
Angie: I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to be involved in Shotzr and it has been so fun to watch it grow! It’s great to know that the photos I take every day might be useful to members of the Shotzr community, and that motivates me to keep taking better photos.
It’s also awesome to see what others are contributing because it provides inspiration to me as a photographer and exposes me to tons of photos and photographers that I might not otherwise see.
Shotzr: Do you find that photography interferes or enhances your time spent out in nature? Do you think you will ever venture into climbing photography?
Angie: Photography definitely enhances my time spent in nature. While climbing gets credit for taking me outside and initiating my interest in nature, I have photography to thank for giving me a deeper appreciation of it. I originally went outside mainly to throw myself at boulders, and I typically didn’t appreciate the real beauty of the landscapes in which those boulders sat. Photography changed that and helped me look around more and really see the details and the beauty that I had often been missing.
Taking photos is how I explore a place and appreciate all the big and small beauty it contains. The desire to see the place in as many ways as possible, from high and low and near and far, is what gets me crawling around, or climbing up higher, and generally just experiencing the place more than I would otherwise. I feel like I get to know a place better once I have taken the time to do this and connecting with a place in that way definitely enhances my time there.
My Instagram and website are dedicated almost exclusively to nature photography, but I guess it’s a lesser-known fact that I have actually done some climbing photography as well. I have photographed some climbing competitions and also a bit of outdoor climbing.
I am an athlete for Mountain Hardwear and have recently been working with them as a photographer as well. This summer I got the opportunity to climb the Grand Teton and view the solar eclipse from the mountain while also taking photos of the trip for Mountain Hardwear. More recently, I attended the Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA where I also took photos for Mountain Hardwear. I hope that I can continue to do projects like this in the future because it’s really fun to experience climbing from the other side of the lens.
Shotzr: What’s your favorite image that you’ve taken and contributed in the last couple months?
Angie: I think the sand dunes and footprints photo is probably my favorite of the past couple of months. It was one of the last photos I snapped when I was walking out of the sand dunes after a quick day trip there, and I thought I wouldn’t like it much because my footprints were in it. But the more I look at it, the more it grows on me. I think it’s a good example of shapes, light and colors and feeling working together well.