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Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine

Meet this Watsonville photographer and check out her studio in person this weekend!

Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine Five Questions for Sylvia Valentine

Sylvia Valentine has been hard at work, printing photographs she'll be displaying at her Open Studios Art Tour show this weekend, as well as the third weekend of October. Last month, three of her nature photographs won first, second and third place at the County Fair.

Patch caught up with Valentine to get the scoop on her favorite things about living in Watsonville, as well as some golden advice for other aspiring photographers. Check it out!

Watonville Patch: What is your favorite thing about living in Watsonville?

Valentine: I love the central coast and living in the country! Our deck in Corralitos overlooks the classic Watsonville fields and orchards below. We have all kinds of critters coming through at night. We're so close to Santa Cruz and Monterey, we have the ocean nearby, redwoods, San Francisco and so many amazing little towns to visit all along the coast and inland, the university energy...not to mention Big Sur 45 minutes south. Amazing diversity and gorgeous weather. I grew up on the East Coast and don't take the weather for granted! It's easy to get everywhere and things are more spread out. We have room to breath in the country.

Patch: What is your ideal situation and setting for shooting photographs?

Valentine: Anything goes! My motto is "always have your camera with you"...I like going on walks and finding off the beaten places to photograph, including close ups and macro work found anywhere, even in my backyard and garden. Road trips are super fun too. We've crossed the country three times and hit almost every State in our camper! I prefer the late afternoon and early evening light for soft shadows and warm tones. I'm not a sunrise morning gal so sunset is my only time to capture that special light. I like to keep things loose and organic, going with the flow and not having a lot of equipment to lug around. I take photos from all angles so I need my freedom of movement and spontaneity. I love digital photography since I can take so many photos and choose my favorites easily.

Patch: Do you have a favorite day trip for getting out of town to take photographs and explore, without having to travel too far from home?

Valentine:  Paul [Valentine's husband] and I love driving down to Monterey and Carmel, its only about 30 min. I love the old cypress trees and finding different plants, succulents, lighting and angles to capture. Big Sur is always a treat for larger sweeping coastal views too.

Paul became a helicopter pilot and gives tours and instruction at Specialized Aviation out of Watsonville airport. He loves it and knows the area so well, his tours are famous. I also love going up and snapping photos from the air, it's such a different perspective of the bay and where we live...even though I don't like heights, its not scary...super fun! I hope to do a special show of aerial photos one day.

Patch: What is the best part about participating in the Open Studios Tour, and why do you think it's also a good opportunity for the community to have a different view of art?

Valentine: I love meeting other art lovers and sharing my nature photography. We have a perfect home for an art show that accommodates lots of people. I loved my first year in 2011 and am excited to share new pieces and connect with old and new friends this second year. And thanks for voting me best photographer two years in a row!

I'll have an indoor/outdoor gallery space to accommodate lots of people. Outdoor tent gallery and succulents for sale (I love photographing and creating succulent designs). I'll run a slide show of all my photography, and the indoor gallery has many new and favorite enlargements and frames of all sizes, plus loads of smaller gift products at every price range (holidays coming up, thanks for shopping and supporting local art!).

There will be live classical guitar by Salvador both Sundays from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., refreshments, and friendly atmosphere. I take all major credit cards and will have some open studio calendars for sale if you need one. Also postcards for other neighboring artists to visit after mine. 

My husband, Paul Henrichsen, is 4th generation Watsonville. The Henrichsen family owned John's Shoe Store on Main Street since great grandpa John set up shop in 1918. Lovely history here...and since the store closed in 2001, he became a helicopter pilot.

Follow the green signs to check out Sylvia Valentine's studio and art from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on October 6 and 7 or on October 20 and 21 at 33 Karen Drive, Watsonville, off Amesti Road.

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