Spotlight on Shirley Lewerenz

with 19 Comments

By Jan Walker

Since this month’s Premier kit, Off We Go by Susan Bartolini, focuses on travel, it’s only fitting that this month’s spotlight is on Premier member and avid globetrotter Shirley Lewerenz, from Huntington Beach, California. (Or, as Shirley’s known in the Digital Scrapper Forum and Gallery, slewerenz.)

Her world travels have been documented in some very creative and artistic layouts!

Here’s a sample:

by slewerenz

Gorgeous, isn’t it? We’ll share some more pages as we converse with Shirley about her travels and her scrapbooking journey, too! She took time out from her travels for an interview with me.

JW: How long have you been a Premier member, Shirley?

SL: Since April 2007.

JW: How did you get started with digital scrapbooking?

SL: I had been teaching a graphic program called PrintShop in a community college district (creating cards, calendars, and albums). It had the ability to handle layers and so I was essentially doing digital scrapbooking in a primitive manner, but I had never heard of digital scrapbooking. One day I heard the term “digital scrapbooking” and I Googled it and that was the beginning of a whole new world of working with photos. By that time, I was teaching Photoshop Elements so I could incorporate scrapbooking with my knowledge of editing.

JW: Were you a traditional scrapper before?

SL: No. I had a friend who was trying to get me interested, but I did not need another hobby where I had to store things in drawers or on shelves. I already had many hobbies including sewing, quilting, tole painting, embroidery, etc. that were filling my craft space. When I learned what digital scrapbooking was, I knew that was the solution for making my cards and albums.

JW: Tell us about your travels… where in the world have you been?

SL: My husband I have been to 43 countries on my last counting and will be adding three more, and possibly six, in the next nine months. It would take me too long to list all the countries here, but you can check out my travel pages in the gallery.  We have always traveled in the states but didn’t go abroad until 1995. On our first trip abroad, we stepped out BIG. We took a cruise of the Seychelles, the Comoros, Madagascar, and Lamu as well as a safari in Kenya and Tanzania. That trip taught us how to pack light!! Then our first trip to Europe was totally on our own. We followed Rick Steves’ self-guided tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Then we were really hooked!

by slewerenz
by slewerenz

JW: Was this an extended trip around the world, or lots of individual trips?

SL: Many trips.

JW: Have you always loved traveling?

SL: Yes.

JW: What kind of camera do you use for your travel photos?

SL: My first camera in 2001 was an Olympus. After that I went through a Canon S70, S80, and then a G7 before I bought a Canon Rebel (this is my third Rebel). I thought I wanted a smaller camera for traveling when we lugged our own baggage and hopped on and off of trains, planes, and subways, so I bought one and didn’t like it as well. Just this week I put all my Canon lenses on consignment at the local camera store and bought a single lens that covers 18-200. Now I don’t have to carry multiple lenses and I pack camera in my purse. So I’ll stick with my Rebel. Yes, it’s more weight, but better pictures.

JW: When you travel, what’s in your camera bag?

SL: My purse is my camera bag. It’s not a regular purse; it is a travel purse (weather-resistant, light-weight but strong, and it has a good strong strap). Along with my camera, I carry a polarizing filter, a lens hood, extra battery, a charger, a polishing cloth, and lots of SD cards. After my fall trip through New England, I learned that I should buy a camera boot so I can shoot in the rain but haven’t purchased it yet.

JW: What are your top 3 tips for traveling with camera equipment?


1. Think light! Multiple lenses are cumbersome and add a lot of weight.

2. Use a good stabilizing lens so you can avoid carrying a tripod.

3. Carry your camera AT ALL TIMES while traveling because you don’t ever want to miss that perfect photo op.

JW: What do you shoot mostly — landscapes, architecture, people?

SL: I love shooting landscapes and architecture. I am not a good photographer of people, but am getting better.

by slewerenz
by slewerenz

JW: Since you’re a seasoned travel photographer, what tips for successful shooting can you pass along to us?

SL: I am not a great photographer, but I have some guidelines:

1. First of all, read your camera manual.

2. Compose your shots to tell a story.

3. Don’t forget to look up and down. I shoot skies, tops of buildings, grass, cobblestone streets, door knockers, doors, and windows. You may get weird glances from others, but you come away with some interesting shots.

4. Avoid posed shots and flash.

5. Shooting from different angles is always good; different angles add dimension.

JW: What are some of your favorite spots to photograph?

SL: Too many choices!! France and Italy are wonderful for landscape photographs, but exotic places such as India, Peru, China, Bhutan, and Tibet are great for people shots.

by slewerenz

JW: What was your most memorable trip, and why?

SL: LOL, again, too many choices! I have good memories of all of my trips, so I think that makes them all memorable.  But the most memorable? Probably Peru.

JW: Your travel layouts are very artistic. What techniques or software programs do you use?

SL: I like to use filters, masks, and textures. I also love to incorporate all the wonderful tutorials at Scrapper’s Guide to broaden my skills. I make a lot of tonal changes with Levels (Enhance > Adjust lighting > Levels). Probably my favorite tools in Photoshop Elements are the filters, particularly the Artistic ones (favorite being Poster Edges). I am now into Topaz Labs filters, which are fabulous. They are plug-ins for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

by slewerenz

JW: What inspires you when you shoot?

SL: It is an opportunity to capture a moment that I want to relive over and over again. It is also a chance to express my artistic side.

JW: Does your photo plan change for every location, or do you look for similar places and scenes everywhere you go?

SL: I never really thought about a plan. I just capture a moment as it comes up. But I do have this ongoing theme of doors and windows. I started that on our first trip (Africa), and everywhere I go I must have my doors and windows shots (and I’ve now added door knockers).

JW: What time of day is your favorite time to shoot?

SL: Late afternoon, early evening.

by slewerenz

JW: Will you make a book from your collection of travel pages?

SL: Yes. I first thought that I would have it printed at either Kodak Gallery or My Publisher, but since I will continue to travel and want to add to it, I think that I will have individual pages printed and placed in a beautiful leather binder that a good friend gave me.

JW: Where are you off to on your next adventure?

SL: We leave in a month for Tuscany.

JW: (Gasp!) Tuscany…..!

SL: LOL. When we were there before, we didn’t have digital cameras so now we want some digi-shots. Can’t wait! Then in November we go to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil which is a replacement trip for our planned Japan trip. It’s not a good time to travel in Japan right now, so we substituted this trip. In May of 2012, we are planning to go to Israel, Greece, and Turkey, but that has not been finalized yet.

JW: Sounds like we’ll be seeing some more beautiful layouts from you, Shirley! Thanks for sharing your stories, your travel photography tips and your creative layouts with us! Oh… and if you ever need someone to carry your luggage for you… well, you know how to reach me!

Andrea Graves: I have to say, I’m loving that the fact of only having a non-digital camera when visiting amazing places was reason enough to go back with a good camera! I like the way you think! 🙂 I’m blown away by your amazing photos. You have such beautiful composition in each of them and such a great eye for capturing the most interesting tidbits and angles! Thanks for taking the time to let Jan interview you, it’s been a pleasure to learn more about you, and we’re so glad you’re a part of the Digital Scrapper community!

You can view Shirley’s Gallery here.

19 Responses

  1. Diane
    | Reply

    I am relatively new to Digital Scrapper but I have enjoyed seeing Shirley’s work. This interview was a great way to learn more about her! Thanks!

  2. Mary
    | Reply

    To my dear friend Shirley, I want to express my admiration for your artistic layouts which are beautiful and inspiring. I feel like I have traveled to many interesting countries through your photos. You are also an inspiration to your students. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to seeing more creative pages.

  3. Donnak
    | Reply

    I just looked at all the pictures in your gallery and I am sooooo impressed, both with your photography and with your ability to find the perfect backgrounds to blend with the photos. I love how you use two photos in so many of your pages, one larger and one blended in. Beautiful. I save quite a few of your pages in my favorites folder. Thanks for the inspiration. I want to get to work on my travel photos now!

  4. Martha Robinson
    | Reply

    I’ve been enjoying your beautiful work for some time now, and I’m thrilled there will be even more. More trips, and more pages to inspire us! Thanks for sharing those glimpses with us.

  5. Shirley Lewerenz
    | Reply

    There you go! That would solve my luggage problem, especially now, when I’m nursing my back (no lifting, no bending, no prolonged walking, no prolonged standing). I’m wondering how I am going to do those 414 steps in the tower in Florence to get those wonderful shots. Here comes physical therapy. Now you know why I have been posting so many pages lately!

  6. Jan
    | Reply

    Sorry dmrdm…. I asked first! Better yet, I’m pretty sure she’d need an entourage. So maybe she’d take a few dozen of us! Just think… with that many people carrying your bags, Shirley, you could bring along LOTS more camera equipment! 🙂

  7. dmrdm
    | Reply

    Please adopt me. I will carry your bags where ever you want to go! Have enjoyed viewing your adventures! Lovely work.

  8. Shirley Lewerenz
    | Reply

    Thanks, everyone! This is truly exciting for me. I never expected anything so grand. I love all of your comments and wish I could meet you in person. I feel that I know you through your comments and your wonderful pages as well. Yes, I am blessed because of my travels; travel really humbles a person and gives a wider perspective on life.

  9. Alberta
    | Reply

    I love your pages and reading about your travels has been great. You are blessed to be able to see so much of the world and then to have the time, talent and resources to create the memories of them the way you do. Thanks For Sharing with us. I am looking forward to more.

  10. Barb
    | Reply

    So wonderful to learn more about you Shirley! I’ve been following your pages and am amazed at your work. Congrats on being ‘in the spotlight!

  11. danesa
    | Reply

    Great interview. I love how you let your photos shine, Shirley. Beautiful gallery.

  12. Sharron Lamb
    | Reply

    Awesome interview. I wish I could time-travel back to when my kids were little, and take my digital camera. 😉

  13. Janet H.
    | Reply

    I just looked through your gallery and your work is truly artistic! I love your technique and talent!

  14. Selina@CreativeJuicesDecor
    | Reply

    Her work is absolutely amazing and blows me away. My goal, to someday create work like hers! I love the emotion and glory she creates in each layout. *sigh* someday…..

  15. Agnes
    | Reply

    Loved to read about your interesting traveling. I really like following you on your trips even if it is only through your amazing photos in the gallery.

  16. Kathy Schroeder
    | Reply

    Great choice for “highlight” person!! Congrats, Shirley!! 🙂 Your pages are always amazing as are all your travels!!! Keep the pages comin’!!

  17. Woodie
    | Reply

    Fascinating! Will be following you by way of your gallery!

  18. Fox57
    | Reply

    Beautiful gallery, Shirley. Loved hearing all the info. in your interview.
    WTG Jan! 🙂

  19. Marie
    | Reply

    I absolutely love your pages! 🙂

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