Rhianna Truex’s fascination with photography started at a young age. Growing up in a rural area surrounded by a lush rainforest, she got lost in a world of capturing the beauty of nature with her camera. She eventually began to photograph anything that she could, including herself. Her series of self-portraits are striking and vulnerable and reflect immense emotion, which Truex says is one of her favorite things to capture with her photos. Her wildlife photos feel just as intimate, with vivid colors and details, she highlights things that maybe aren’t seen at first glance and brings nature to life in a captivating way.
Originally from Seabeck, WA – loving life in Longmont, CO since 2018.
Three words that best describe you:
Determined – Caring – Tall.
If you were a forest creature, what would you be and why?
If I were a forest creature I think I would like to be an owl. They seem to hold an ancient wisdom, and flying seems pretty cool.
What was the last dream you had that you can remember?
Irish Purgatory – I was trying to go to Ireland with my mom, and it felt like molasses trying to get through the airport. Customs had too many questions and eventually told me I had to show him where I parked our car, as proof we would be coming back, while my mom went through to the gate. I wasn’t able to find the car, but he allowed me to go ahead anyway. I wasn’t able to reconnect with my mom before the flight, and somehow my bag ended up lost with my passport inside. I was able to get on the plane, but wasn’t able to leave this tiny little ferry building once it landed. The doors were only 3’ tall, and there was no way to get ahold of my mom or to leave, I could go outside but would only end up back inside. It felt like an Irish purgatory.
When and how did you first get into photography?
I’ve always had a fascination with my mom’s or dad’s cameras, and when I was quite little my mom had actually gotten me an early digital camera “Jazz” in 2003 or so. Later on, in the summer after 6th grade, I was home a lot, and lived very rurally surrounded by a lush rainforest that I loved to get lost in. At some point I found my mom’s point and shoot camera, and she had some ancient microsoft version of photoshop on our shared computer. I cannot remember what it was called but it was plenty for me! I would take pictures of my cat outside, or of our rose bushes, and I would later edit them to be black and white with parts left in color. I remember clearly a photo of a baseball in the grass, all BW except for the red stitches. My family LOVED it, and while it may be a little cheesy now – it sparked something more in me then. When I was in highschool I purchased my first DSLR from my older sister, a Nikon D50, it sits on my shelf as a memory now. The Nikon D50 is what launched me deep into photography, though the roots had been there for a long time. From there on – anything I could find to be my subject got photographed. Mushrooms, moss, my pet lizard, friends, and eventually I figured out how to photograph myself.
What artistic tools do you work with mostly?
I edit my photos almost exclusively with Adobe Photoshop, and my camera tools are mostly a Nikon D810, Canon R5, and my infrared/full spectrum (retired police forensics camera) Fuji ISpro. I shoot some film, mainly shooting slide film in medium format – using a Mamiya C330, and I have developed all of my own BW, but also some of my slide film as well. My favorite lens right now is probably my macro lens, but a close second is my 400mm lens I use for wildlife.
What season and time of day do you prefer the most for outdoor photography?
In Washington I always preferred winter, because it was always so wet and green, and for those same reasons, in Colorado I prefer spring and summer! I prefer early mornings mostly, before the crowds and harsh sun, but I am happy to be out and shooting at any time of day. For my self portrait series, foggy weather has been a favorite, but a clear night will do too.
You capture animals in such a beautiful way, what is your favorite animal to photograph and why?
I think it has to be… All of them! Right now I think it’s mostly birds – particularly shore birds like killdeer or avocets.
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
My favorite subject is emotion, but wildlife is a close second.
Do you have a favorite shot you’ve taken, or one that is particularly memorable to you?
The first shot that comes to mind is the self portrait under the stars on the sand dunes. A lot went into making that image, and it almost didn’t happen. That photo was the first self portrait after a series of attempts that I wasn’t pleased with, and sentimentally it means a lot to me.
You beautifully captured an incredible infrared shot of the Flat Irons here in Colorado, what all went into getting that shot?
For that shot I really was out looking for wildlife and birds up on top of flagstaff, and on my way down I saw the flat irons without a cloud in the sky and a green lush landscape below them. I had to stop! The camera I used is a full spectrum retired police/museum forensics camera. A Fuji ISPro I got secondhand and it came with an impressive filter kit. It’s old, based on the Nikon D200, but still plenty capable. I couldn’t say no for the price (less than a tank of gas!) but I had little interest or knowledge about infrared photography prior. It was really overwhelming to jump head first into the world of nanometers (what light wavelengths are measured in) and I couldn’t have asked for a better set up to learn with. It’s full spectrum, so it captures everything near IR to some UV. The filters I use block light specific above certain wavelengths. Sometimes that includes nothing from the visible spectrum, and sometimes that includes some lower ranges of the visible spectrum. The shot of the flat irons has some visible spectrum left, which is where the altered color comes from. In infrared, the green chlorophyll reflects almost everything, causing them to appear white (or in this case, blue, and with editing/channel swapping, red).
You have a lovely series of self portraits that has expanded over the years, can you tell us a little more about that?
My first attempts at self portraits came in 2014, I had just gotten into more conceptual art and more photoshop manipulation tools. I tried making it look like I was levitating, I would seek out abandoned houses, anywhere and anyhow! My first real self portrait was in my backyard, in my prom dress in February. It’s still one of my favorites because of the inspiration it sparked in me, and the dedication I had to making my vision happen. After that I began hiking to scout locations, and working hard at making my visions come to life. I traveled to the redwoods, found seas of ferns, the beach, etc. I became so dedicated to this art that I put my own comfort to the side. I found myself in sub 58 degree sea water in October, or in 32 degrees and freezing fog, flying to new locations, and from that I created some of my favorites. What my self portrait series ended up turning into over the years is an idea of growth and change through the uncomfortable. I still don’t know where it’s going, but I’m excited for the journey.
What do you hope the viewer experiences through your work?
With my self portraits I hope the viewer experiences any emotion at all. We are so guarded in today’s world and I think everyone should strive to find discomfort because that is where I feel that growth comes from, so there are some pieces that aren’t meant to be pretty or comfortable looking.
My goal with wildlife and my tiny macro scenes and wild still life work is to expose the beauty that the world still has. We’re told to protect the planet and save the wildlife but we are so often so disconnected from the wild world, and I want to connect anyone and everyone I can with their wild roots, tiny worlds we can’t always see, and the shy wildlife.
Check out more of Rhianna’s work here: