Getting To Know Paul R Quinn


Having picked up my first camera as an early teen, I have never looked back. Photography is a passion and second career for me. As an engineer working in the aerospace world, everything has to be perfect and exacting. My approach to photography is no different. As I look through the viewfinder I constantly think how it could be, or how it could be improved. I am a Texas based photographer specializing in landscapes and motor racing. I try and make my images exude a sense of tranquility, mystery, and simplicity. In addition to photographing in the south, I have traveled the world capturing diverse subjects from Australia to Venice to London to British Columbia. I aim to capture nature at its best. For this reason, I prefer to photograph during the morning and evening golden light hours, as they often yield more drama.

I also free lance for the motorsport industry and shoot NASCAR and INDY Car on a contract basis. My works have been published in magazines, books, periodicals, corporate annual reports and hang in many public and private establishments around the world.

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Musician chosen by Paul – Music chosen by Isabella

Live your live like you would like to be remembered.

What’s your background?

I am a mechanical engineer working in the aerospace industry.  I grew up in Ohio and started my passion for photography at an early age.  I probably picked up my interest in photography from my father who also enjoyed photography.  My first camera was given to me when I was in second grade.  It was an inexpensive Ansco camera, which used 120 size film.  I was only given black and white film since my father could develop the black and white negatives at work, no doubt a cost saving technique.

When I was a teenager, I started collecting old cameras.

My current collection ranges from an 8 X 10 bellows camera from the late 1800’s to early American, German, Japanese and even Russian cameras, which I still have today.

Does your artwork come from that background?

Most likely my childhood exposure to photography had a big affect on my interest.  However being an engineer, especially in the aerospace industry, I see similarities between the two fields.  Calculations and designs need to be checked, qualified and rechecked to make sure the part or system is reliable and error free.  For me, photography and post processing are no different.  I am constantly trying to improve my setup, compositions as well as my post processing.

Airplanes and fireworks-Paul R Quinn

What are you trying to say with your work?

I tell people I like to capture a moment and/or emotion in time, whether it is a speeding car racing around a track, a child playing on a swing or sunrise on the beach after a rainstorm.  I like to capture an image that evokes that particular moment in time and causes the viewer to think or get some emotional connection to that image.

What made you choose the medium you work with?

One of my earliest recollections capturing a moment in time was in third grade.  Our class participated in a game of dodge ball.  As luck would have it, I won the game that day and the class chased after me and picked me up, cheering and yelling.  Even in third grade, I carried my camera everywhere and that day was no different.  My teacher grabbed my camera and snapped a photo of everyone holding me up with smiles on their faces.  I still have that photo.  I still look at the photo from time to time and it brings me right back to that moment.  It still brings a smile to my face as I recall that moment winning that dodge ball game with all those classmates and friends.  I recognized at an early age the power and emotion an image could have reflecting happiness, joy, sadness and pain and this is, and always has been a big part of my motivation for creating photographic images.

Carolina Nut-Paul R Quinn

Do you work in a studio?

My studio consists of a 17” Mac Book Pro laptop, a couch and a cup of coffee.  I also have a mini iMac in my office I use occasionally but I take the laptop and camera with me everywhere so my office can be mobile.  Both computers have Lightroom, Photoshop and a few other programs with plug ins but Lightroom is my main program of choice.

What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?

My laptop and Lightroom.  Without those, I would be lost.

Who are your biggest influences?

Ansel Adams was my first primary inspiration.  I envied his ability to travel and capture some of the most amazing photographic images, all in black and white.  He mastered the art of dark room processing long before the digital and computer age.  He was exacting and demanding of himself and his results.  He would sometimes spend weeks printing just one image until he was satisfied with it.

Today, there are so many amazing photographers.  It would be difficult to just name them all:  Many, who are famous with household names as well as amazing photographers you have never heard of.  They all inspire me.  I learn a little bit from each one of them.

Empty seat watching the moon-Paul R Quinn

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

That is hard to say.  I look at each image and each one represents a different memory.  Most times, each shot brings me right back to that moment and, usually a smile, as I recall that moment or day.

One such example is my image I titled “Purple Rain.”  This image was shot very early in the morning on Cannon Beach in Oregon after it rained hard all night long.  As the light was starting to break, the clouds and sky got a purplish pink tone to it.  I was walking in ankle deep water to maneuver to the area I wanted to capture my shot and my cell phone rang.  It was not quite 6 AM.  It was a friend from work who accidently face-timed me from her cell phone.  She was driving to work and since she called, she asked what I was doing.  I turned my phone around so she could see what I was seeing and she almost hit the car in front of her.  She was amazed at the scene I was looking at.

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After I finished getting my shot, I went inside to the hotel lobby and sat down to warm up with a cup of coffee and read the newspaper.  An older gentleman sat down a little while later and we began to chat.  We introduced ourselves and he happened to be Robert Barksdale, the famous author.  I have read a couple of his books and we discussed our backgrounds for a while and then went our separate ways.  So, every time I look at “Purple Rain” I think of that morning, and the memories it brings back.  I always smile and think I am so lucky to have that memory along with a great image.  To me, this is the reason I enjoy doing what I do.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

It depends.  If you ask my wife, she would say forever.  It does take me time to think about what I want the end result to look like and what I want to project to the person viewing it.  Once I think it is acceptable, I let it sit for a few days than come back to it.  I am always looking for flaws or things I can do better.  I will usually go back to an image several times before I think I am ready to print it.  I will then make a print, usually about 8” X 10” so I can see it printed.  Prints often look different than an image looks on a computer screen so I usually find a few other details I want to change, correct or modify.  I routinely look over my gallery and catch little things I go back and change or “tweak” sometimes many months later, so I am not sure I am ever done or ever completely satisfied with an image.  It is a curse; but one I enjoy.

Kevin Harwick Celebrating in the winners circle-Paul R Quinn

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

I don’t.  I have to stare at it for quite sometime, then leave it alone then come back to it several times before I am usually satisfied it is done.  For me, it is never easy to walk away.  I think an image could always be just a little bit better.  I am my worst critic and don’t ever seem to be satisfied.

There is too much hatred in this world. Learn to understand all of us are different and learn to get along with others.

What project are you working on now?

My wife and I recently spent time in Yellowstone and Grant Teton National Park.  I am still working through the 1,000 plus images I shot in that 2 week time period.

Musician chosen by Paul – Music chosen by Isabella

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Stick with it.  You won’t get rich or even noticed overnight.  Photography is one of those things you do because you enjoy it.  Being able to bring joy to others with your work is just a side benefit.

Looking down West 7th-Paul R Quinn

What was the first piece of art you sold?

The first piece I sold was a sunset photo taken from the island of Lanai.  My wife and I decided to take a vacation to celebrate her first (of two) successful bouts with breast cancer.  We went to the island of Lanai and stayed at the Four Seasons hotel.  We wanted a quiet retreat where we could be alone and embrace some quiet time together knowing she beat cancer, and comprehending the hell she had gone through to get here.  The first night we were there she was exhausted so I took my camera and walked around and captured a wonderful sunset just behind our hotel.  The shot I wanted required that I get in the water beyond my knees, not a comfortable thought knowing the creatures that could be swimming around in the dark but I ventured in to get the shot.  What I captured was a beautiful array of yellow, orange, red and pink colors against the clouds and glistening water with the rocks along the shore beautifully silhouetted in black.

Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?

Yes, it is a challenge to be noticed, no doubt about it.  Photography is one of the world’s most prolific hobbies and there are some AMAZING photographers out there.  Everyone with a cell phone now thinks they can be a master photographer and while some amazing images can be, and are, captured with cell phones the quality just does not compare to a good DSLR.

Learning depth of field, lighting, proper dynamic range and everything else that goes into a well planned and thought out image takes time.  To get my work out to the masses in the electronic world we live in today, it is difficult, challenging, time consuming and sometimes unrewarding.

I currently navigate the electronic world with my images on Fine Art America, Instagram and most recently Twitter.  Although it is frustrating at times, I don’t get discouraged or disheartened as this is fun for me.  I enjoy everything about planning, shooting and processing my images.

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For many years I gave away my images as gifts to family and friends and was told I needed to put my images out there for sale.  It wasn’t until I entered 4 images in an international photo contest that I changed my mind.  There were four different categories in this contest.  I ended up winning all four categories and also best of show.  One of the judges, who were all professional photographers, really encouraged me to put my work out there for the public to see.  She gave me the kick I needed to move forward.  I then met an amazing photographer who had some of the same passions I had: Black and white photography, airplanes and muscle cars.  Even though he lives in another state his friendship has been invaluable helping me to figure out how to copyright images, negotiating rates for images I have sold for corporate annual reports, periodicals and magazines and, just good solid friendly advice.

Purple Rain-Paul R Quinn

What are you personally doing to advance your work career?

I continue to experiment to increase my online presence but I also am doing more freelance shooting images for real estate and architecture firms nationwide as well as NASCAR racing.  Recently, I was hired by Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas to shoot each NASCAR race and while the hours are grueling, I really enjoy it.  Getting within 20 feet of these machines traveling at 200 miles per hour and creating images others are willing to hire me to create is a blast.

Selling my work online and working a part time schedule of architectural and racing venues keeps me busy while I still have a day job as an engineer.  When I eventually wind down on the day job, I will most likely ramp up the schedule of shooting events since this really is fun for me.

I enter contests as I have time.  I have had my work displayed in LA, Dallas, Cleveland and in several Oregon art shows.  While that does give my images exposure, for me it is too much work and I would rather work online as I have time and continue to shoot architecture and racing venues which is very satisfying work for me.

Tomorrow comes much too quickly.

How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?

Honestly, I used an average of what I see others charging for their work.  There are some really high priced work out there and some really low priced work out the there.  I don’t think I can command the price Ansel Adams, Peter Wolf or Peter Lick can so I don’t try.

Sleeping boats on the beach-Paul R Quinn

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

My social media presence consists of Twitter and Instagram.  Twitter is @pquinnimages and Instagram is #346pak

Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?

When I first started putting my work out there I kept critiquing other works and found many I really didn’t like or thought wasn’t very good.  I never offered any advice because I didn’t think it was my place.  As I became more acquainted with the art world I finally realized, I didn’t have to like it and art, like beauty was in the eyes of the beholder.  So now I have a completely different perspective, one in which I appreciate all art and the work that went into it.  I wish others pursued that same thought.  I see many people trying to tell me how they think my images should look.

Musician chosen by Paul – Music chosen by Isabella

What advice would you give new artists?

Do it for fun and you will always enjoy it.  As a side benefit you could also make some money.  If you get into this to make a living (at least expect to make a living right away), you will probably be very disappointed and frustrated.

Sunset at Moraine Lake-Paul R Quinn

Have you any hobbies?

Yes, my wife will tell you way too many…

I have a small collection of muscle cars, which I love to drive and work on.  One of my cars is a 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda, I have owned for 40 years.  It was my high school car.  Each car is unique and has a story.

I am also a pilot and aircraft owner.  I own two aircraft, a 1947 Cessna 120 and a 1978 Cessna 172 XP.  I fly as often as I can and occasionally take photos from the air that offers a unique and different perspective.  This is how I got the job with Texas Motor Speedway shooting their NASCAR events.

Where are you based?

Fort Worth, Texas

Isabella F A Shores
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Isabella F A Shores

Founder /Artist at YoursByShores
Hello, my name is Isabella Shores.I'm a dog lover with two Alsatians.A bird lover...2 budgies, and an avid writer.

I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
Isabella F A Shores
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