Photographer Abbe Arenson’s business card features a dramatic close-up of her own image reflected in a sand hill crane’s bright orange eye.
It’s a photo of the bird seeing the birdwatcher and the birdwatcher seeing herself in the bird—a fitting metaphor for the connections Arenson seeks to make in her delightful artwork.
“I hope that my photos bring either a smile or change how people look at nature and the environment, says Arenson, who finds inspiration all around her, including her Sanford back yard.
“Our days are so busy; I really think that so many people just don’t appreciate what we have, especially in a state with so much abundant wildlife and nature. We don’t take the time to appreciate it. Here in Sanford, you can go to the marina in the morning and see alligators and heron and ibis and all kinds of wonderful things.
“I think that we need to appreciate it more and that’s what I try to do. I show people that it’s out there and I get them to go look for it. I want people to just notice things. Our environment is so important and so fragile. I encourage them to do what they can do to protect the environment.
Her art focuses primarily on birds: curious cranes, garrulous grackles and majestic hawks. But she finds joy in other animal subjects, too, like a fluffy fox squirrel, giant orange grasshoppers, a tremulous dragonfly or even an overfed housecat.
“I do like birds,” she says. “I’ve had different shows. It just depends on what I’m feeling at the time. I have a show in October at the Maitland Library. The theme of that will be lily pads and dragonflies. And I’ve had shows about my cat. It’s generally what I’m in the mood for. I run the gamut from architecture to nature and I enjoy it all.”
Arenson, who was born in Ohio and moved to Florida in 1973, has always had a love for nature, but it blossomed five years ago when her daughter’s boyfriend gave her his old camera and she started taking pictures of the birds that flocked to her bird feeder.
The divorced mom of two boys and a girl became fascinated by the intricate details she was able to capture with the camera.
One of the first photos she took was the close-up of the sand hill crane’s eye.
“It just exploded from there,” she says. “I was like, ‘Wow! This is really fun.’ I guess as a child, a love of nature is innate and then it’s suppressed in you, and then all of sudden you get older and maybe you appreciate nature more,” she says.
She admits however, that she has a lot to learn about photography.
“I really still am a novice,” she says.
Surprisingly, she gets tips on settings and lighting by watching YouTube videos.
“It’s a wonderful support for anything you need to know about photography,” she says.
Arenson also finds Central Florida to be a good place to learn about photography.
“You’ve got so many groups that are supportive,” she says, “like the Gateway Center for the Arts in DeBary. They have a photography group and an art group. You’ve also got the Orlando Camera Club. It’s a good place for someone to get started and get the basics of how other people work.”
Arenson’s work can be seen on the walls of Nico Globos restaurant in Lake Mary, the Casselberry City Hall and Florida Hospital in Altamonte Springs. You can also view her self-published photobooks at the Historic Sanford Welcome Center. Photos can also be ordered from her online gallery, http://abbesworldgallery.com.
And be sure to visit her blog www.abbesworld.wordpress.com, in which she combines her photos with off-beat musings and entries about whatever is going on in her life. She also likes to spotlight local galleries and fellow artists. Check her blog for updates on her upcoming art show in October. Her work will definitely get you thinking about nature.
“I ‘m just happy to inspire others to appreciate the world around them via photography and art,” she says.