Maria Dreyer can’t recall the first time she entered the Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition. She’s been doing it off and on for so many years. Even though her work is often accepted, she is sometimes surprised.
“I was honestly very surprised with this last one. The show is often juried by very traditional photographers, and my style of photography is not 'traditiional.' I did not see it coming, but I am so honored,” she says.
Dreyer classifies herself as a composite photographer, which means she may use or combine two or more images to create one. Or alter the actual image in Adobe Photoshop in a way that gives it her artistic vision. That is a process in itself, one that could take hours, not to mention a lot of practice and post-production experience.
“I take all my own photos, but then I rewrite the story, so to speak, change the reality. The image is real, it is just pieced together in a new way,” she explains. “For example, I might take a simple landscape of a barn, one of my favorite subjects. Then I make it how I imagine it was long ago, and preserve its history. There is no one way to do this, no one process.”
She explores what she calls the “what ifs” during post-production work, reimagining images with different colors and textures. The result is photographs or actual images that are often described as “painterly.” Indeed, they do look a bit like paintings, and are certainly a form of art.
“The creative challenge is in the process," she says. But she acknowledges that the process can be challenged.“I know that some photographers feel that manipulating photos, to this extent, is not photography. They are seen as digitial art. There is debate out there.”
What is hard to debate is the beauty and artistry of her work. Two of her works will be on display at the Mill from April 3–24, 2022, during this year’s juried photographic exhibition.
“Last year, during COVID, everything was digital—both the submission process and the show. The digital submission process makes it a lot easier for photographers to enter. And that’s great. But I am all about the print," she adds. "I do all my own printing and matting. I really look forward to seeing all the work hung at the Mill.”