Focus on Photographers - Interview with Elizabeth Carmel

Elizabeth Carmel ( is a professional fine art photographer specializing in unique, expressive landscapes and "waterscapes". Elizabeth’s fine art prints combine dramatic photography, vivid colors, and artistic touches to create new, captivating visions of the natural world. Using ultra-high resolution 39 megapixel digital photography, she is able to capture the subtle details of the natural world and transfer them to large prints with stunning clarity and color. Elizabeth’s work has been featured in many publications, including People Magazine, Professional Photographer, Hasselblad Forum, Outdoor Photographer, Sierra Magazine, Sierra Heritage, and Tahoe Quarterly. She was also on of 12 photographer in the world selected as a Hasselblad Master Photographer in 2006. Her book "Brilliant Waters" was selected as the best Gift Book of 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review.

I recently had the chance again to travel west on I-80 into California and always hope that I pass through Truckee, California during opening hours of Elizabeth and Olof Carmel's gallery.  The staff there is always friendly, and it interesting to see what these two landscape photographers are up to.  I caught up with her on email as she was involved in setting up a new gallery in the wine country in California.  I am always interested in how photographers are thinking, who is inspiring them, and what they are looking forward to doing in the future.  Here are some of her responses:

Pictureline:  Your gallery looks great.  It has a very warm and inviting feel to it.  I noticed some of your larger canvas wraps immediately on entering your gallery, and I took note that you always enjoy the subtle changes of cool to warm tones, such as in your images from around Lake Tahoe.  Tell us about your inspiration for your work.  Who has stood out to you as inspiration, both past and present?

Elizabeth Carmel:  I am a big fan of Galen Rowell because he really increased awareness about color landscape photography and also produced compelling books on the subject. His gallery in Bishop was a big inspiration for our gallery in Truckee. I currently work with his gallery to do workshops in the Sierra. Even though he is no longer around, his work and inspiration still live on. I also enjoy the more contemplative style of landscape photography from Christopher Burkett.

PL:  I love Galen Rowell's work as well.  I use his inspired ideas of neutral density filters daily.  As for your subject matter, what has inspired you the most?

Elizabeth Carmel:  I love photographing beautiful landscapes - that has always been my inspiration and probably always will be. I live in a beautiful area of the Sierra Mountains and see so much natural beauty every day that I am compelled to share that with the world. There are so many people who do not realize that these beautiful places exist in our modern world - they think these landscapes must be somehow manipulated or fabricated because they have never experienced them with their own eyes. I hope people are inspired by my work to remember that we live on a beautiful planet that has not yet been destroyed by man.

PL:  What are you currently most interested in photographing?

EC: Right now I am working on exploring more California landscapes for my next book.

PL: Do you have a print that is a best seller for you?  Which of your images is your favorite? In addition, tell us about your limited edition prints and how you structure your pricing.

EC:  Yes, I have a few that are best sellers but as the edition sells out and the price increases, the sales volume goes down.  This challenges me as a photographer to keep photographing new work that appeals to my market. I use an edition of 50 total prints including all sizes. That is a good number for making them limited but enough to make an income from the edition. Once the edition sells out I release 5 artists proofs at a much higher price, and when those sell the print is only available on the secondary art market since I will not print anymore once the artists proofs are sold.  I do license some of my images as posters which are not signed or numbered.  I don't agree with having really large editions - What is the point of having an edition of 1000 prints - if you are going to do that just make them open editions. I also don't agree with having a limited edition for each size you make - that seems deceptive to me and is not good for the limited edition market.  I sign and number all my limited editions.

PL: Tell us about your equipment.  You shoot with a Hasselblad digital camera.  What aspects of the camera/lens system do you find important that you wouldn't find in other brand/formats/models?

EC: I love the sharp high quality lenses of the Hasselblad system. Also, the high ISO capability of their 40 MP H4D is very useful for handheld shots. I can make 10 foot wide prints from this camera that look great. It is an integrated system that is no harder to work with than a Nikon or Canon dSLR, but produces dramatically better image quality due to the large sensor and amazing dynamic range. I would, however, like the cameras to be more weather proof and to further improve the high ISO capability.

PL:  Thanks for spending a few minutes with us.  The gallery and the new images look great.  You can see more of Elizabeth's work at her website, and you can connect with her via her blog: and on Twitter: @ecarmel.  Elizabeth conducts workshops via the Mountain Light Gallery.

Stay connected with Elizabeth: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr


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Christopher burkettElizabeth carmelFebruary 2012Galen rowellGalleryHasselblad h4dJoel addamsLimited editionsMountain light galleryPhotographic printsStructuring limited editions