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An eye for nature

Local artist shares passion for feathered friends, barns

April 13, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

A local photographer's passion for feathered friends and freshly cut hay has turned into an eye-catching display.

Valley Head resident Debbie Sorensen will feature her images of barns and birds at Artists at Work in Elkins through the end of April.

"The photos are mostly from West Virginia, but there are some barns mixed in from Florida, Canada and Colorado," Sorensen said. "The majority from West Virginia are barns located in Randolph and Pocahontas counties."

Article Photos

The photos are available in a multitude of sizes, from framed, 8-by-10-inch works to smaller notecards. Sorensen's work is on display in the front window at Artists at Work, as well as on her display wall. She also has five of her favorite barns adorning the wall at Mountain Valley Bank in downtown Elkins.

Sorensen said her interest in photography was sparked by her aunt.

"My Aunt Helen had a really nice camera when I was a child," Sorensen said. "She used to let me borrow it, and I found photography fascinating."

Sorensen said after she married her husband, Kirk, she decided to change careers. She went to college and received an associate's degree in hospitality management. She said her husband bought her a nice camera for her graduation, and her hobby progressed from there.

"I did not know what to do to take good photos, so I joined a camera club," she said. "Every day was a lesson, and I am still learning."

Following graduation, Sorensen worked in Charleston at the Capitol for five years in tourism. This is where she met two photographers who helped her, Steve Shaluta and David Fattaleh.

"I learned so much from these guys," she said. "When the capitol photo lab switched over to digital, they advised me to change as well. I resisted until 2006."

Sorensen said she decided to take photos of barns because of the smell of freshly cut hay.

"I love the smell of hay," she said. "It is perfume to me."

As far as her love of birds, she said she keeps a bird feeder up all winter.

"It's hard not to run over to a window to see what kinds of birds are out there," Sorensen said. "It is always great fun. All birds are beautiful to me, from tiny hummingbirds to vultures."

One photo she wants to get is an eagle in free flight.

"I strive to take photos of nature in natural, not manmade settings."

Sorensen said some of the barns she has photographed have since fallen down.

"I asked one person's permission to take pictures of their barn, and they said they didn't think there was anything special about the barn," she said. "When I showed them the finished product, they were amazed and said they did not realize how wonderful the barn looked."

Sorensen said she wants to continue adding to her collection of barns and birds.

"Anyone who would want to have their barn photographed can contact me," she said. "I am enjoying adding to this collection, and invite everyone to stop by and see the photographs."

Sorensen, who owns Gold Dome Photography, said she doesn't think she ever will grow tired of her work.

"I just can't imagine the day I won't have a camera in my hands taking photos," she said.

Sorensen's work is available at Artists at Work located at 329 Davis Ave. in Elkins. Additional information is available by calling 304-637-6309 or 304-339-6462.



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