After spending 30 years in accounting, Mel Carll was burned out. One day he decided to just quit and commit to what made him happy: photography. Ten years ago, Carll opened up a studio in Santa Clarita and never looked back.
Carll’s work was among 20 pieces shown at the Santa Clarita Photographers Association’s display of winning photographs at the Old Town Newhall Library on Saturday. The display and reception featured photographs that won the association’s November and May image competitions.
“I’ve always done photography since I was a kid and I’ve always enjoyed it,” said Carll. “I just got burned out in the accounting world and then just one day just said, ‘I quit’ and opened up a studio here in Santa Clarita, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Much of Carll’s work is nature or landscape photography, digitally manipulated to enhance colors and printed on metal sheets to accentuate contrasts. One of his works titled “Evening Walk” features elephants in Botswana prancing along the savannah. The image sat next to a closeup shot of a lion titled “On the Prowl,” taken in South Africa.
“I think it’s just being outdoors and being outside and just enjoying that, that quietness of being outside,” said Carll. ”That’s what I love. And you know, the animals just in their environment was completely different, so it’s just a completely different experience.”
Carll said the experience of photographing wildlife in Africa has spurred him to return soon for more shots.
Sydney Adam, arts and exhibits assistant for the city of Santa Clarita, said these types of events are not just a great way for artists to have their works displayed, but also an important way for the city to make the community aware that impressive works are done by local residents.
“The city thinks that it’s very important to have these collaborations with local nonprofit organizations to kind of bring a community cohesiveness and support our creative members of the community,” said Adams “So it gives us an opportunity in a space for the members, and then outside members to also kind of get awareness of these organizations.”
Like Carll, Kevin Karzin went through a career change before coming back to photography. Karzin worked as a photojournalist for The Signal and the Associated Press before switching careers to work as a lineman for a phone company. But following an injury on the job, Karzin rediscovered his passion. Karzin’s work focused on profile pictures of interesting characters, such as a man in mid-performance at a renaissance fair.
“So that was at the renaissance fair, this last year down at Irwindale,” said Karzin. “And he was doing a performance for the queen. They [were] just very animated.”
Karzin now serves as the Photographers Association president and said it was great to see his peers’ art on display.
“I love it. I mean, that’s one of the things that we try to do throughout Santa Clarita — is to get our artwork out there.”
Another contest-winning photographer, Andrew Lewis, said he was always drawn to fires. During a fire that happened on the north end of Acton, Lewis was able to capture a firefighting plane dropping fire retardant. The piece is titled “On Target.”
“I’ve always been kind of an enthusiast on watching fire. My dad and I would go out and watch the fires in [our] area,” said Lewis. “I heard about this right around the corner of my house… I had no excuse not to go. I was in a really good position where I was removed from the fire, I was out of the way, I was at a good level and could shoot straight across at it. Just right place, right time, with the sun behind me. Just worked out.”
Whether it was a career change or a lifelong passion, these photographers saw their work as art and were proud of it. Being winners of the association’s contests, these photos are some of the best in Santa Clarita. Carll said that if you have a passion, there’s no reason to delay it.
“Find something you like and do it. Don’t wait,” said Carll. “I mean, I waited a long time before I really started doing this seriously… Don’t wait. That’s the biggest thing. Don’t wait.”
The Santa Clarita Photographers Association’s contest-winning photographs will be on display at the Old Town Newhall Library until Oct. 17.