News, Justice & Whimsy: Meet Fine Art Photographer Rene Crystal

Written by Artie The Panda

Newsrooms and courtrooms are not obvious sources for colorful, playfully titled fine art photography. And yet, Rene Crystal can trace her present career back to both. In my Q&A with Rene below, she shares how her father’s job as a photographer for a New Jersey newspaper lit a fire in her soul for the art and science of photography, while her own job as a criminal court reporter taught her that we all see things differently.

From Dandelions to Dentists

“Dandee’s Done” above, is a great example of Rene’s vivid view of the everyday. “I am always amazed at what lies beneath our feet,” she says. A quick tour through her website reveals that she enjoys naming her art as much as creating it. A couple examples: “When My Dentist Dreams” (an eye-popping candy abstract) and “This Morning’s Survivors” (portrait of a near-empty cereal bowl).

Perfectly Pouched

When you’re as prolific as Rene, you need a system for protecting your art. “I use Frame Destination’s Gallery Pouches™ to store and transport all my work,” Rene says. “They have proven to be indispensable.” Her “Bridge to a New Season,” shown below, is resting atop the Gallery Pouch she stores it in. Rene took this photo at a park near her home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. In post, she layered and masked out different areas to create the image. “It’s sometimes time-consuming, but always a surprise in the end product,” Rene says.

“Bridge to a New Season” 

See More of Rene’s Work 

The photography on Rene’s website is grouped into collections, from Abstracts to Autumn, Bikes to Boats, Whiskers to Windows. She even offers one-of-a-kind home decor, apparel, iPhone cases, and yoga mats featuring her images. Rene’s Instagram is updated frequently with recent work. And if you want to dig a little deeper into Rene’s early start in photography including her dad’s poignant advice, check out the Q&A below. 

Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Rene Crystal …

1. What is your background; how did you get started?

Hypo [a chemical used in darkrooms] clearly ran through my veins while I was "developing" inside my Mom. My father was a news photographer for the Newark Evening News from the 1950s to the 1970s. He often took me with him to the Art Department of the paper to watch his photos develop. It was magic to my eyes and and this girl was hooked. Dad handed me my first camera, a good old Kodak Brownie Box. What he said to me sticks with me to this day: "Remember, it's not the camera — it's the photographer." Fast forward decades through a 25-year career in the courtroom as a criminal court reporter—that often-invisible person taking down the verbatim testimony of witnesses during a trial. After retiring, I went back to my very first passion: looking through the lens and capturing the moving and still life all around me.

2. How important is it for a photographer to "connect" with their subject?

I believe the onlooker of my work, or for any piece of art, can tell whether the photographer has connected with his/her work. Is it important? Oh, yes, but that connection, at least in my opinion, is something that is innate to each individual. I can only hope that is conveyed in my photos.

3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice youve received within your career?

Keep snapping that shutter. It only takes one out of 1000 photos to be an award winner or to be loved by someone viewing it.

4. In what ways does your work reflect your personality?

As they say, ”One picture is worth a thousand words.” So I would have to leave that to those viewing my work to say how it reflects my personality. My mind definitely doesn't dwell in unhappy or dark places.

5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?

I put the camera down and walk away, for a day, a week, or even just a few hours. I just know when it's time to continue.

6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)

My mind.

7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?

I work in post editing photos just about every day, so it's a new project every day!

8. What "fad" gadget do you most regret purchasing?

Haven't purchased any fad gadgets.

All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.

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Last Updated July 14, 2022