What She Does: Like many artists trying to find their way, Tracy Manford Carlson has attacked various creative endeavors over the years. Photography was the only one that really stuck. She recalls working full time in an unfulfilling desk job and one day she just snapped. "I was in a meeting," Carlson says. "And I just said, you know what, I'm done." Her colleagues were shocked; she wasn't just talking about right then, she was talking about forever.
She submitted a photo to a photography contest of the now-defunct Houstonist and won. This initial success confirmed what she had been feeling in the middle of that work meeting - she needed to be a photographer. Since then, Carlson's work has been seen in the Houston Press, Houston Chronicle and on display at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, in addition to being showcased in various galleries and private collections. Carlson mainly photographs natural, outdoor settings.
Why she likes it: Carlson loves being a photographer; the way she speaks about it is of someone describing their one great love. She is not just enamored with the act of taking a picture, but of finding the images to shoot as well. Carlson's favorite way to spend a day is packing up her cooler, hopping in the car, picking a direction and seeing what she can find along the way. Carlson says that "type of creativity just can't be planned."
Getting a great shot is only half of it. Carlson enjoys the after-effects just as much. She describes herself as a non-purist when it comes to adjusting the color and brightness of an image. While some photographers prefer to hold true to the shot they've taken, Carlson finds the alteration just as much a part of the artistic process.
What inspires her: Texas. Carlson is an 8th generation Texan and proud of it. Through her work, she attempts to remind us of the forgotten places in Texas. She finds inspiration in her surroundings. She likes the grittier side of her home town, and in her images there is a lonely, Southern feel that transports you to another time.
Her proudest moment: In the fall of 2007, Carlson had her first show, which was already an "amazing moment." What really put it into prospective, though, was when Max Harrison of Gallery M Squared grabbed her and said, "I've already sold THREE of your photos."
"I felt like a real artist, a photographer at that moment," says Carlson. "And one of those pictures ended up hanging at Bush Intercontinental Airport."
If not this, then what? If Carlson was not a photographer she would be very sad. Carlson says that there is really nothing else she wants to do.
What's Next: Carlson is just about to wrap up a show at Block 7 Wine Company and after that she'll keep doing what she loves: taking pictures. She says she's not in it for the money, but getting more of her work out there and to be recognized is a goal.
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