Photographer Liza Dey was born and raised in the East Village area of New York City. She is a self-employed freelance photographer and a former dancer. Her memories of the East Village neighborhood include anti-war demonstrations and hippies in the 60’s; the tough neighborhood and urban decay of the 70’s and 80’s; and the gentrification of the area starting in the late 90’s into a hip, trendy area. She says, “growing up in a neighborhood like that and having always lived in what would be called ‘cusp’ neighborhoods – always caught in transition from an old, rundown historical area to a new, trendy area with lots of galleries and cute shops – has shaped who she is and influenced what she is interested in shooting and her view of New York City, old and new; good, bad and in between; but always real”.
Liza enjoys reading and is very interested in history, especially the history of New York City. She likes to hike and explore, and Fire Island – a barrier island off of central Long Island – is one of her favorite places in the world for vacationing and for photography. She enjoys watching figure skating on television when it is on and likes to work around the house and do crafts.
Growing up, Liza was surrounded by artistic expression of all kinds and all her extra-curricular activities involved the arts. She dreamed of being a tight-rope walker in the circus or a ballerina and an author. After seeing A CHORUS LINE on Broadway the summer she turned 12 she became obsessed with dance and music. She studied jazz, ballet and tap and started a career in theater in her early twenties. Over the years injuries and burnout took their toll and she built a new career by taking her photography hobby to a profession.
A fan of figure skating from the 1970’s on, Liza began to attend live skating events with her mother in the late 1980’s when figure skating was entering a boom period. She took her camera with her to the first couple of events she attended. Having little experience with that kind of photography the results were less than stellar. Liza got a super zoom lens, worked on her techniques and soon started getting much better photographs. Early on Liza met the publisher of one of the top skating publications and got his card. She submitted her photographs to him and they were published. She then submitted photo’s to other skating publications, books and programs for publication and began selling prints to skating fans through classifieds in the skating magazines. This all coincided with Liza’s exit from working in theater and dance and she made the transition to working as a professional photographer.
For over a decade Liza worked primarily in the world of figure skating. She viewed herself as a theatrical photographer who happened to be shooting skating, rather than a sport photographer, as she views skating as an extension of dance. She shot at events, tours, shows, pro competitions and amateur competitions throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada and sold her work to skating publications, skating shows and books. She also sold prints of her work to collectors worldwide. Skating is not as popular now and the last event Liza attended was in 2006. Liza’s creative focus now is city scapes, landscapes, still lives, floral and wildlife photography.
Liza discusses her inspiration:
“I think I've really always been very visual; most of my earliest memories are images, mental snapshots of moments or places, and I think I just want to record and share those things that attract me; that I find beautiful, or that speak to me in some way. I've also always been fascinated by old photos. I'm really lucky that both sides of my family have, what I've come to realize is, an unusually large collection of old family photos, some going back to the 1800s. I've recently worked on restoring some of these digitally, and I love to crawl inside of them mentally, to live in them and that long ago world, to see the details of the moment and feel the reality of them. Even old photos of people or scenes not connected to me personally have always fascinated me.
My skating photography has definitely been influenced by the work of the many great theatrical photographers, whose work I saw when growing up attending Broadway shows. Most notably of these is Martha Swope, who was the preeminent Broadway photographer throughout the 70s and 80s. I love how she captured the excitement of Broadway during those golden years, and especially how she captured the color and lighting of musicals. I'm also a huge fan of almost any photo I've ever seen of the Alvin Ailey dance company. I find their work particularly dramatic and photogenic. My own dance background definitely influenced my work, as did the experience I had in school working with theatrical lighting. I definitely preferred theatrically lit skating events, and enjoyed highlighting the connection between dance and skating.
My scenic and landscape work has been influenced by my love of the Impressionist painters. I'd love to visit the Provence region of France someday to photograph where Van Gogh and the other Impressionists once painted. I really like to have a sense of texture to my photos that echoes the texture you might see in paintings. My New York City photos are definitely influenced by my love of New York history, as well as the wonderful, stark black and white photos of New York in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s; the work of photographers like Bernice Abbott and Lewis Hine, as well as by lots of the great paintings from this period. One of my earliest New York City photographic influences was the work of Jacob Riis and his famous book 'How the Other Half Lives'. I first read that book when I was about 13, and his images of the old, rundown, poor immigrant Lower East Side of the turn of the century are never far from my mind, whether I’m behind the lens or not.”
Liza tells us a little about how she works:
“I work mostly straight realistic photography, perhaps with a sort of impressionistic bent. I do like it when my images have a painterly quality to them (the frustrated painter in me, I guess!), and I'm really drawn to shadows, reflections, silhouettes and strong contrast, particularly in Black and Whites. Until recently I've still shot primarily with film, partly as some long-held photographic socio-political old-fashioned stance, I think. Now I continue to use my film backs for real zoom work, like wildlife, but I'm using a 10MP 3x zoom fixed lens digital much of the time for more wide-angle work, and I have to say, I love it! Not having to worry about ‘spending’ film has really freed me up to be way more creative and experimental. I'm currently saving and looking around for a really good digital camera with more megapixels and a greater zoom or detachable lenses.”
Liza started studying photography as a high school senior when she took a photography elective course. She started out using an SLR she rented from the school. Her enthusiasm prompted her parents to give her a camera of her own as a graduation present. It was a completely manual film back Yaschica with 55mm and a 28mm lenses. Liza uses that camera to this day as a back up, and until she started shooting primarily with a digital camera, she regularly used the 28mm lens and the Yaschica in much of her shooting.
In college Liza minored in Photography and majored in Theater. Beyond the photography techniques she learned in college, she is self-taught.
During her years of photographing figure skating Liza had several of her photographs included in two group shows at the Times Square Lobby Gallery in New York City. One of those shows had a focus on images of the performing arts which pleased Liza as she views figure skating as a performing art as an extension of dance.
Creatively Liza has been experimenting with some new techniques and styles recently. She is applying digital technology to her photographs to achieve some exciting results. This involves working in image editing software and experimenting with manipulating contrast, saturation and other variables to edit her photos. She says she is creating hyper reality. Some effect combinations create digital paintings that are intended to echo the look and feel of artists such as Hopper and Cezanne. Others create effects reminiscent of psychedelic rock concert posters of the 60’s and 70’s or give an image the look and feel of authentic vintage photos. In addition, Liza has been expanding her product offerings in her online shop on Zazzle. She has added a line of iPad cases and will also be adding iPhone cases to her CREATIVE CASES product category in the shop.
Over the next few months, in addition to adding more images and products to her Zazzle shop, Liza will be making fine art prints of her photography available on Fine Art America, Imagekind and Redbubble. As well, original prints will be made available through Etsy at some point. Liza would also love to have products featuring her photographs available in some of the many little gift and clothing stores on Fire Island in New York. Liza is also in the planning stages of a couple of exciting joint commercial projects, for which she will be doing the photography.
Liza markets her work under the names Liza Dey and Liza Dey Photography. She currently sells her work through her shop on Zazzle THE FLYING PIG GALLERY. Within that shop she has several product lines that include paper products, listed under The Flying Pig Press; Coney Island products, listed under Dreamland Gifts; and Apple iPad and iPhone cases, listed under Creative Cases. There are many other product categories to browse. Liza also has a Painet stock photo shop.
Liza Dey Photography Website
The Flying Pig Gallery on Zazzle
Liza Dey Photography on Painet
Liza Dey on Absolute Arts
Liza Dey on ArtWanted
Liza Dey on Artist Rising
The Flying Pig Christmas Shoppe on Squidoo
Dreamland Gifts on Squidoo
Join Liza Dey Photography on Facebook
Join The Flying Pig Gallery on Facebook
Follow Liza Dey Photo on Twitter
Liza Dey Photography on Myspace
The Flying Pig Gallery on Myspace
All images Copyright Liza Dey, All Rights Reserved
Written and edited by Ruth J Jamieson, All Rights Reserved