Linda Toki is a graphic designer who knows photography. And, she hopes, eventually, to become a photographer who happens to know graphic design.
Linda got her first camera, as a high school graduation present, from her dad, who was an artist. She studied arts education and graphic design at college in Pennsylvania, and then came to this area to work for the Army as a graphic designer. She initially learned to use a camera just as part of the job. But, after a few years, it became a tool for relaxation and self-expression.
“I started out going to Meadowlark,” Linda said to me. “I would go out there at lunch time. And that was sort of my mental health break….[But] I was really sort of guessing at camera settings. So I said to myself, I’m gonna take some classes.” Bill Folsom introduced Linda to the camera’s settings and to a few new subjects, including butterflies.
Many good photographers were trained as artists; their visualization abilities come in very handy. Like others who move between brush and the lens, Linda enjoys the camera’s efficiency, its accuracy, and the greater room for trial and error. These are things that allow one to produce more art, more regularly. “While I do have a creative personality, I also have a production mentality….I can’t remember the last time I did an illustration.”
Linda never enjoyed film and never worked in a darkroom. However, at the office, she was part of the Photoshop 1.0 generation, back before that designation was coined. When digital photography began to come into its own ten or so years ago, Linda already had more than a decade of using Photoshop under her belt. Unlike a darkroom veteran, digital made photography immediately more accessible to Linda; computer-based image processing was already her bread and butter. “[With] digital the possibilities are endless. Especially with software [for post-processing]. And you [get] instant gratification. You can take more than one shot and it’s not gonna cost you a lot.”
While Linda is more comfortable with masks, lasso tools and layers than she is with f/stops, shutter speeds and ISO, she is also enough of an artist to understand how those things are secondary. “Actually, it was always the art and the graphic design that came first. Actually it was the art that came first.” In that regard, Linda knows of more than a few photographic artists whose work she admires: Kenvin Pinardy, Mark Mervai, Kathleen Connally, Miss Aniela, Vivian Maier, and Teenie Harris.
Linda is an award-winning graphic designer. Recently, she won a 2011 American Graphic Design Award, for an annual report that you can see pictured in the gallery above, and a 2012 Communicator Award of Distinction. Two of her photos, also in the gallery, were Silver Award winners in contests sponsored by Create Magazine.
But Linda is not looking just to win awards with her photography. Fine art, teaching, and maybe even event photography are possibilities she is pondering, once she retires from graphic design work. What is certain is that the art will come first, and that her skills at the computer will help her to finish strong.
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An archive of our illustrated Patch posts on club competitions and interviews with club members Bill Prosser, Tom Mangan, Ursy Potter, Margaret Huddy, David Stossel and Minnie Gallman is at the McLean Photo Club's new Facebook page. Please "LIKE" us on Facebook to keep up with the interview series and announcements from the club.
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Our holiday party was terrific. Thank you very much to our gracious hosts Ursy and Carter.
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The McLean Photo Club is in its fourth decade -- and we welcome new members. Or just come to the next club meeting as a guest, to see what the club’s about.
After the holidays, MPC will meet on Wednesday January 9 at 7:30 pm in the McLean Community Center. Tuan Pham will be the speaker. About Tuan: "Photography helps him see deeply without the camera and gives him great joy, particularly when photography and Zen touch to spark a serene inner setting and profound attunement to the present moment." For more about Tuan, click here.