Interview with Mike Quesinberry

Mike Q

 Mary Akers: Hey, Mike. Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today, I love your photographs, and we are honored to have them grace our Appalachia issue. I’m really struck by the strong color saturation of them and I notice you call them Photoshop Paintings. Could you tell us a little bit about what that means?

Mike Quesinberry: My works are from my own original photographs. I use several different Photoshop effects to enhance my pictures and any many cases turn them into something that more resembles a painting. Hence that’s why I call them Photoshop paintings. I always wanted to be a wildlife/nature artist but I have no talent at all with a paint brush or pencil in hand. So computer software has afforded me the opportunity to “paint” to some degree and I really enjoy it. I really love the art of folks like Terry Redlin and Thomas Kincade and how they use brilliant colors and lighting effects so I try to incorporate some of that into what I do.

The Beginnings of Sorrow

MA: I particularly love that you take the area of my heart (the Blue Ridge Mountains) as your inspiration. So many people try to find something big or important or “other” to make art about, when they may already have beauty and richness in their own backyards. Did you ever try to photograph other places?

MQ: So far my photography has been focused around “home” so to speak. But I look forward to photographing other locales in the future.

I Tried to Drag Back

MA: Have you always been interested in photography?

MQ: I really didn’t become interested in photography until about 15 years ago. I was out on a friend’s farm and decided on a whim to take an old camera that had belonged to my Dad with me. I took several pictures of some locust trees on top of a hill with towering thunderheads behind them that day. I was lucky enough for one of them to turn out good, and that’s where my interest in photography began. But it wasn’t until the age of digital cameras and learning how to use software in combination with my pics that I really got hooked for good.


MA: Did anyone special in your life inspire you to take pictures?

MQ: There was no single person who inspired me to take pictures. It was more of having the opportunity to be an artist and convey my love of the outdoors to others and to hopefully give them a chance to see and feel what I do through my pics.

Spread Your Wings

MA: How old were you when you get your first camera?

MQ: I was probably around 30 years old when I got my first camera.

Pas de Deux

MA: And finally, because I ask everyone this and the answers are always illuminating, what does “recovery” mean to you?

MQ: Recovery for me means finding a way to get back to some form of inner peace after dealing with some form of adversity. My best personal example would be dealing with the sudden loss of my father when I was 24 years old. It is amazing how quickly one’s life can be turned upside down in a split second. Now, photography for sure is my therapy for dealing with stress. But back then, for several years, I was really having a hard time recovering from that loss and then one day, about 5 years after Dad passed, for some reason I decided to try writing poetry. I’m not sure why or how but doing that really helped me. One day I wrote a poem in honor of him which I’ll share and it really put me much more at peace. The poem, which I titled A Bridge, was read at my Grandmother’s funeral many years later which was very touching to me.

A Bridge

And then I came upon a bridge, and as I stepped across,
The waves of life’s stormy seas quickly ceased to toss.
On the other side I found a bright and happy place,
Where God’s own love filtered down and shone upon my face.

A place of rainbows and a cross,
A place where promise is not lost.
Yes in this place I’ll make my home,
Where Jesus reigns upon his throne.

I know everyone isn’t religious, and I certainly never have tried to shove my religious beliefs down anyone’s throat. But it’s important to me and in my case I really believe the Lord helped me write that poem and it made me feel much better and not feel so sorry for myself anymore.

MA: That’s lovely, Mike. Art (in all forms) is one of the most healing things in my life, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and your work with the world.