Monica Beck (Shasta County)

Redding, California
Shasta County

I picked up my first real camera maybe ten years ago and I’m not entirely sure what inspired me to do so, but I haven’t turned back since then.  I started to get really into photography maybe five years ago…as far as a serious hobby that I actually put some money into.  When I first started out, I used to take my camera with me everywhere – literally everywhere. And I would often stop to take photos on my way to and from work, or I would talk my kids into letting me use them as portrait models. I even experimented on myself.  My first love has always been nature and landscape photography, but honestly, my eye is drawn to light in general and how it can create masterpieces out of the most ordinary things.  

As a Nor Cal native, I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful area where the opportunities for capturing stunning landscapes and scenery abounds.  I look forward to growing my craft and love sharing in this venture with other photography enthusiasts.

I am currently available for custom, free-lance, and natural light portraiture work.

How do you translate the vision you see into the actual photograph?

This has often been a struggle for me, and one that can quickly lend itself to frustration and self -criticism very quickly.  What I have learned over the last several years is that my raw photos rarely encapsulate the vision of what I was taking in with my eyes without some post processing taking place.  That being said, I always strive to try and get the best version possible of a scene so that editing efforts are minimal. However, there are certainly times when I take creative license with a photo in order to create a vision or art piece that was either seen or felt at the time the photo was taken, or something that I see creatively when looking at the photo from a different perspective.

How have you seen yourself evolve as a photographer since you first started?

Let’s just say that when I go back through old photos I am nearly constantly saying things in my mind like, “what the heck were you thinking when you took that shot Monica?, or, “wow, talk about some oversaturation!”, or “dang, that’s some old school editing right there”, etc. There is so much I have learned over the years since I first started photographing, a lot of it coming from having others gently critique photos as well as being out in the field with photographers who know more than me and then gleaning tips and knowledge from them.  

Who inspires you now? How do they inspire you?

I am inspired by nature and the outdoors mostly. Are there photographers that blow my socks off when I see their work? Yes. But my biggest inspiration is just being outside, breathing the fresh air, exploring, and taking notice of what is around me. 

However, one of my favorite photographers and inspirers is Karen Hutton.  I took a workshop from her a while back titled, “The Artists Voice” and it was all about being present, grounded in the moment, and open to seeing “awe” in the most ordinary things around us.  She encouraged us to break “the rules” of photography and just get creative.  It was refreshing and gave me permission to see and do “outside of the box” and not worry so much about the technical aspects of photography (at least for a moment).

What do you find most challenging about photography?

Comparing my work to everyone else around me. With the convenience of digital photography coupled with the constant presence of social media, it is easy to get lost in the comparisons.  It seems that anyone can call themselves a photographer these days, and there are SO many talented people out there.  It’s almost like I have to put my blinders on some days and keep reminding myself why I even do this.  It’s not necessarily for other people, although I certainly want to help inspire others and be able to share my perspective on the beauty around us, but more than that, photography is part of my creative outlet; it’s a tool of self-expression. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.

What are some of your favorite activities outside of photography?

Beyond photography, I love pretty much anything having to do with getting outside and adventuring. I can’t sit still or stay indoors for too long. I have this innate drive to explore. I love hiking, camping, kayaking, and road trips, especially taking random dirt roads and just seeing where they take me.  I’m also a bit of a gym junkie, preferring weight lifting and boxing as compared to those boring treadmills and Stairmasters; I much prefer exercising outdoors.  I love music, live music events, dancing around my house, hanging with friends, and drinking stouts and Moscow mules. My current adventuring companion is my labradoodle “Moose”, and I gotta say, he’s pretty awesome.

Monica on Social

Follow Monica on Instagram:  @soulandsummit
Find Monica on Facebook: @soulandsummitphotography

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