Interview with Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Dianne Hofner Saphiere
Dianne Hofner Saphiere 

Dianne Hofner Saphiere was born and grew up in a southern Wisconsin farming area between Chicago and Milwaukee. She lived a major portion of her life in Japan, a country she adores and where she absorbed its culture and philosophy. She now resides in Mazatlán, a beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest of Mexico, where she is a photographer and promoter of social and cultural causes, among other activities.

Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere
She has persistently dedicated her life to the search for social justice and equality. Convinced that every human being is a crucial part of a cosmic jigsaw puzzle, Hofner Saphiere believes we each possess unique abilities, talents and perspectives that, when fully valued and shared, can enable us to collaboratively solve any challenge the world might face.

Her artistic work, community service and support of artistic and cultural activities give her an affinity with Art without Borders for Peace, an association based in Colombia; we have thus contacted her to learn more deeply about her work.

Always positive, joyful and with a great smile, Dianne granted us a video conference to respond to our questions about her photography. Here is that interview:
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Art without Borders for Peace: In which genre does your photography most naturally and fluidly develop?

Dianne Hofner Saphiere: I am very attracted by nature; photos of wildlife captivate me, and I find joy and peace in beautiful landscapes. My heart and mind, however, are strongly pulled towards people, their actions and interactions; I love giving voice to their natural uniqueness and authenticity. I have a series I’ve created over many years titled, “Human Cultural Treasures” that delights my soul. However, spontaneously photographing people can feel invasive. Here in Mexico, people will automatically strike a pose and put on a big smile as soon as they see my lens. While my heart is drawn to candid portraiture, I find it much easier or more fluid to photograph nature.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How have you developed your style and technique?

I have taken quite a few photography classes and had the privilege of participating in a couple of photographic safaris with master photographers. Almost every day I study something about photography online. YouTube is an incredible classroom! As for how I’ve developed my style and technique, as with most everything in my life, it has not been a purposeful decision. I never set a goal for myself such as “this is how I want my style to be.” If I have a style, and I sincerely hope I do, it has emerged from the interaction between who I am and the subjects I photograph. I’d say my style has developed from following my heart. As far as technique goes, that is a matter of constant practice and learning.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

What inspires you to create photographs and what is it you want to express with your photos?

In Japanese we have a saying, "ichi go ichi e", 一期一会or “Each moment is once in a lifetime.” There is incredible inspiration in that proverb. Photography is a method for preserving succulent memories of subtle, fleeting moments. As for what I like to express in my photography, my objective is to keep myself out of the photo as much as possible. That is, of course, impossible, in that my eyes, heart and lens are part of me, and thus part of any photo I create, but my goal is to express the natural essence of the subject, to be able to transmit that feeling to my viewers.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Dianne, what quality is always present in your photographs?

I am afraid that questions like that are difficult for me to answer, Maestro, because I don’t usually pursue certain qualities or styles unless it’s for learning purposes. My goal is to fully feel the moment and do everything possible to capture and transmit that feeling. As far as qualities are concerned, I’m searching for the truth, the core essence of the subject, what makes the subject what it is. I want every human sense to be present in the visual medium of one photograph. Does that make sense?
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

With what materials and techniques do you like to work?

My preferred medium is digital photography. My main camera is a Nikon D750 with a 28-300 zoom lens, but I use an 18mm, f1.2 lens for astrophotography, and I am in love with my fisheye macro lens which permits me some really unexpected and surprising perspectives! And, of course, I have a long lens for birdwatching. I photograph in RAW, catalog my work in LightRoom and do 98% of my processing in it. Once in a while I use PhotoShop for double exposure or conceptual photography. I print giclée on Canon Pro Luster photographic paper and have experimented printing on amate paper that I handmake myself using the traditional processes of the Otomí (hñahñu) of the state of Puebla. I especially like the quality of blackberry tree paper for photos of traditions and ceremonies. Once in a while I print on acrylic or other materials for outdoor use.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How many photos do you calculate you have created in your life that have been exhibited and where have you exhibited your work?

I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos in my career and exhibited about 125. I have had individual exhibitions in Paris, Vienna and Mazatlán, been selected to have 2-meter by 3-meter prints form the entrance to Mexico’s national tourism fair, curated a show, and been part of collective exhibitions in Athens, Barcelona, Casablanca, Córdoba, Culiacán, The Hague, Hamm, Neiva Huila, Mexico City, New York City, Tel Aviv and Tijuana.

Does it interest you to adopt an easily recognizable style or are you constantly experimenting?

I do love constant experimentation: in photography, in the kitchen, in life. There is always something new and imaginative to discover. I trust my personal style shines through any technique or style I use.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How do you see the world of photography has changed with the arrival of digital photography and programs such as CyberLink PhotoDirector 10, Photoshop o PhotoScape, among others that facilitate retouching and every sort of composite? How does that affect the work of the photographer?

The digital world has changed everything, life and photography. Many photographers love using film and antique cameras, feeling they provide a more analogic and sensory process. Photography is the art of light; whether we use analog or digital techniques doesn’t change that fact. Personally, I adore the liberty that the digital era provides, the flexibility to experiment in multiple ways with my images and the incredible sensitivity and nuance that’s possible with today’s technology. What I don’t like are photographers who don’t reveal what they create inside and outside the camera. For me, it’s an ethical question; we should create photographs with pride and not hide our processes. A photograph or composite of images highly processed in PhotoShop, PhotoDirector or PhotoScape can be a work of art—sometimes even more so than a realistic photo.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

What other interests do you have besides photography?

I love to cook, and fortunately my husband, Greg Webb, and my son, Daniel, also enjoy it. Many of our friends would love to join us for meals daily if they could. I also enjoy hiking, swimming and being out in the fresh air. I read a lot and belong to a book club, though, honestly, we probably consume as many bottles of wine as we do books. A good movie is also very welcome in my life.

A spiritual question: What for you is peace and what relation does it have to your work?

Peace for me is the highest natural state for any human being. It’s a firm knowledge that we are all perfect, unique and interconnected, that we depend on one another and on our planet. Hindus talk about the golden thread that unites all human beings and the divine; peace, love and creativity are the experience of that reality. I do my best to be grateful for the beauty in everyday life, and to share that with others via my work.
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

We are in a very complicated time for humanity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How has this affected or benefitted your artistic creation?

I am not sure if it has benefitted or adversely affected my work, but without a doubt COVID has changed it. Before the pandemic I went out almost every day to take photos. I have now been shut inside since November, thanks to a concussion I suffered in an accident, followed by hip replacement, and now with COVID it’s very complicated to get out and about. However, I have taken advantage of this time of quarantine to organize my thousands of photos, to experiment with and learn to better use new techniques in my studio. In that sense the pandemic has been quite useful, although I still have thousands of photographs to catalog. I will definitely come out of shelter-at-home with many new ideas and a lot of motivation!
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere
Work of Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Dianne Hofner Saphiere, from Pacific Television (TVP Televisores del Pacíifico)’s coverage of her solo exhibition, “I am a foreigner born far away from here” ("Yo soy fuereña nací de aquí muy lejos," a popular corrida or regional song). 

The works presented in this article are the intellectual property of the artist Dianne Hofner Saphiere. In this case they are used to promote her work with the objective of critical review and artistic education. Partial or total reproduction is prohibited.

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