Paula Chamlee is a prime example of artistic development that can emerge throughout one's life. Born in Texas, far from the world of visual arts, today she travels the world with her husband and multiplies her activities in artistic photography, publishing, and teaching. It's with a high standard for quality and thorough knowledge of photography that the view camera has become her medium for producing the images we discover below.
What led you to photography?
I discovered photography rather late in my life. I have often compared myself to Julia Margaret Cameron in that way.
Because I grew up on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle in a part of the world where the word art basically didn’t exist, there was very little opportunity for cultural development in the world of dance, painting and the visual arts. We did have music and theatre. But the visual arts were very scarce.
When I went off to college, I was a theater major. After a couple of years, I wanted to see the world, so I applied to Delta airlines to become a stewardess. While flying for the airlines, I lived in Atlanta and New Orleans, and I also traveled overseas. So these things were introducing me to the world that I had longed to see.
Then I met my first husband and we lived in Chicago and a bit later overseas in England and Switzerland for a year. By then we had young children and were living back in the States.
In the meantime, I asked a painter friend if I could study with him. I discovered that I loved painting and drawing.
During that time, I was working in television as a news reporter, as a volunteer in a historical society, and then in real estate, so the painting was a hobby at first. But, I was also discovering that I was very good at visual art, even though I’d never done it before in depth.
By the time my children were old enough to be in grade school full time, I decided I could go back to school and finish the degree that I had not finished earlier.
In going back to university to finish the degree I had started years before, I could focus on my matured and more developed interests. I took classes in French, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, and all of the art history courses. During that time, the art history program at the University of Alabama in Mobile included just one course on the history of photography.