Why would someone leave a great job that they have devoted their life to ? Well there are as many answers to that as there are people making that change. For Elise Sullivan, a Durham local, and former member of the UNH faculty, that reason was simply that it was time.
With her choice Elise discovered she had more time to herself. She enjoyed walking in the woods and observing nature. She happened to check out a camera from the local library and started taking pictures on these walks. She found that the camera allowed her to capture the tiny details that she had been trained to observe in Biology. Photography seemed a natural extension.
Elise was approached to do some portrait work and began doing some school photos and senior portraits. She soon discovered how much she loved this photographic expression . Elise found that it filled a hole left in her from leaving teaching. The relational aspect of teacher to student , the give and take, was the same in portrait work.
The Durham Public Library approached Elise and asked her to do a show to display her work. Elise had a lot of nature shots but wanted to do something more. She had discovered a passion for portrait work and wanted to take pictures of the people that make up her own community . She wanted to to show the people that give Durham its flavor. So that began her project called Familiar Faces : A collective portrait of Durham. This is a collection of “environmental “ portraits of people that either work or live in Durham. It is on display now through March 15, 2018.
Elise’s journey from biologists to photographer has been for her very reflective and grounding personally. She feels invigorated and rejuvenated. Does she feel that she missed an opportunity 20 years ago ? Well she says “no” . Elise feels that 20 years ago she could not have made this choice because she may have been too concerned with criticism or failure. Where she is now in life gives her a thicker skin while also makes her willing to be more vulnerable. She sees photography to be “ the next phase” in her expressions of what she loves to do which is observing life.
For more information, check out Elise Sullivan Photography's Facebook page .