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Mobile Macro Interview With Jill Shepard Lian by MaryJane Sarvis

We are delighted to publish our first Mobile Macro Interview to this very special column, edited by our fabulous Columnist MaryJane Sarvis. Jill Shepard Lian is the subject of this interview and her work is much admired.

(We also have a dedicated Facebook group set up for this Column too – please join us here. MaryJane regularly adds and contributes to this. In addition we have set up a Flickr Group dedicated to this column. We would like you to send all your portraiture here and we will select images for curation and showcases as well as commentary – this is the Flickr Group link).

We are sure you will thoroughly enjoy this interview…


©Jill Shepard Lian

How did you get started with macro photography? Briefly explain your background with photograph and mobile photography.

In addition to being a macro photographer, I am also a polymer clay artist. I believe the detail I focus on in my clay creations led me to the challenge of capturing details in photography.

Which macro subjects particularly interest you? Natural history – flowers, insects, snowflakes etc.? Other subjects?

I am most interested in photographing flowers, waterdrops with refracted images and snowflakes.


©Jill Shepard Lian

Tell us about your macro equipment set up and techniques. Tripod? Do you use an Olloclip?

I use an iPhone with an Olloclip attached for all of my macro shots.I don’t use a tripod. For me, a tripod is too confining. I move around a lot to try to find the perfect shot. A very steady hand and holding my breath usually works. I also use the headphone shutter release with some success. I sometimes hold it in my teeth and release the shutter that way. That way, there is no movement at all.

Have you experimented with flash techniques, camera supports and/or light tents?

I am relatively new to the world of macro photography. I haven’t yet tried any different flash techniques, supports, or light tents.


©Jill Shepard Lian

Is there a particular time of day that you prefer? Many natural history photographers prefer early mornings or evenings for example.

I much prefer the early evening as far as perfect lighting goes. I will say I do like to head out early morning to catch some dewdrops on flowers.

What processing techniques do you use, which apps do you prefer for both capture and post processing?

How do you deal with Depth of Filed (how much of the image appears crisp from the foreground to the background) – it’s the factor that can make a huge difference to the success of a macro photograph? My number one app that I use is Hipstamatic. I think my favorite combo within the app is John S lens and Pistil film. The color is fantastic and I get a great depth of field with it.

How important do you think composition is in macro photography?

That is an interesting question. I tend to look at the background within the frame before I focus on the subject. I think it’s very important to have a well composed photo. It’s a make or break type of thing in a photo, for me.


©Jill Shepard Lian

How do you feel about abstract art/photography and in terms of macro photography?

I prefer macro photography to be crisp and simple. I don’t like too much taking away from the subject. As far as photography and art as a whole, I enjoy abstract art very much.


©Jill Shepard Lian

What advice would you give someone just starting out in mobile macro photography?

First and foremost, a steady hand is important. Treat the craft as a treasure hunt. Search out the little gems. Lay on the ground to get the shot, if you have to! Photograph the things that you are passionate about. It will show in your work.


©Jill Shepard Lian

What is your guiltiest pleasure, in photography terms?

One of my guiltiest pleasures is going to the garden center to take pictures of flowers, instead of buying them! There are tons of waterdrops and bees just waiting to be captured. Don’t tell anyone….but I even dream in macro!

MaryJane graduated from Bennington College majoring in painting, printmaking and ceramics. Growing up with a passion for Matisse and the many other colorists who involved textiles in their paintings, she chose to continue her evolution as an artist by developing methods of applying paint and dye to silks and velvets. Along with designing for a few major labels beginning in 1986, she grew her own fine art couture business. Her work is in many collections in the USA and the UK. She’s been featured in several publications including Ornament Magazine and has been involved in numerous shows and exhibits over a 25 year career. She’s best known for her knowledge and command of color. Always enjoying photography for both business and pleasure, MaryJane discovered the IOS system of editing and shooting with an iPhone in 2010. Thus began a whole new investigation into color imagery. Documenting the beauty of nature and Vermont, then editing to achieve the look of old oil paintings and textural color studies became a whole new fascination. She has also done a series taking 19th century wood engravings of women and collaged them with photos of her own fabrics. MaryJane feels that although this new realm of expression is in its infancy both personally and in the Art world, there is an excitement and depth that’s palpable. She plans to continue to develop new series including more abstracts and mixed media works on paper. MaryJane lives with her daughter, an up and coming artist/photographer, and cat on top of a high hill in Vermont, USA. They have a beautiful studio on their land.

One Comment

  • Tracy Mitchell Griggs

    Lovely work and inspiring that such beauty can be captured so simply.