Simply stated, Now On View celebrates and showcases the artists of Society6 and their work. Get to know them—and then get lost in their gallery.
Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Eastlyn Bright Tolle and I’m a photographer alongside my best friend (and husband), Joshua. We’re a team for weddings near and far, and a lot of the time, it’s our clients who bring us to the incredible destinations you see showcased in my Society6 store.
Like all good millennials, Joshua and I enjoy dates at local coffee shops and alpine hiking. So far, my favorite hikes include the Gorner Glacier hike from Zermatt in Switzerland and the Olperer Mountain Hut hike in the Zillertal Alps, Austria. The reward of getting to a lofty destination on foot, rather than by transportation (like a cable car or train), is an unexplainable feeling of both accomplishment and respect for the grandeur of nature’s wild. Hiking forces you to slow down and appreciate the landscape you’re trudging on. Photography is similar. When focusing on what you’re trying to capture through photography, all your attention has to be present.
Photography tends to have a reputation of being the least artistic form of art because of its process and realistic depiction of what’s captured…and I somewhat agree with that. Although intuitively creative, not all photographers will call themselves an artist. But art is a language that has always been close to my heart, and through this journey, I’m continuously learning to translate what it means to me. As a photographer, there is a richness that far exceeds just creating pretty pictures. I believe that I have an incredible opportunity to take part in the imperative art form of visual storytelling.
Current City: Dayton, Ohio.
What’s your process?
Every written story has nouns and adjectives to describe it, and every photographic story does too. For instance, if I’m drawn to the wind in a scene and want to make that my subject (noun), then I have to find the “adjectives” to describe it. Sometimes adjectives look like sand blowing across a valley (and waiting and waiting for another gust to pick up the dust) and other times the wind’s adjectives look like hair blowing across a face.
In telling a story of nature, I’ve learned to first ask myself how the environment makes me feel…do I feel peaceful? Wonderous? Fearful? Powerful? Small? When I decide, I then compose the scene in a way that brings that feeling to the viewer. As an example, if the scene is grand and overwhelming, I’ll place the subject in the frame, keeping them well below the horizon line or at least below the top of the mountains, so that the scene will look larger than they are (just like it is in person.) Horizon line placement is the key to controlling the feeling and visual scale of every photographic work. Just as a painter is intentional with every brushstroke, I also desire to be intentional with everything I place in a frame.
If an environment is screaming power, like it did at the edge of Niagara Falls, then it was important to get close to show the currents and texture in the river. I used an 85mm, which is a zoomed focal length lens.
Why are you drawn to photography?
Stephen Roach, another artist that inspires me, said: “when we encounter beauty, we reflect beauty and we become what we behold.” This world needs beauty. And that’s why I capture what I see; it’s why I create.
My drive is in finding light, movement and a perfect blend of nature with my subjects. That’s when I create my best and most meaningful work to me, to my clients and also to my audience. My heart is in the drama of the sky and so my favorite work always involves intensity of weather—like dark clouds and strong winds. I love being out in those elements and feeling nature’s power beating against my face, tangling and dampening my hair and then using my God-given passion to freeze the elements of those experiences into frames. Making something like the movement of wind, which is invisible and untouchable, actually visible and seen and then freezing it into something that can be printed, tangible and touched is a way that I feel fulfilled.
What do people typically say about your work?
One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, wrote: “Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”
My work has improved as I learn to be present in the beauty and wonder before creating—and that is reflected in others’ responses to my work—whether that’s through travel imagery or in Joshua and my work with couples.
Some recent feedback that almost brings tears to my eyes is:
“Your photographs tell such a tremendous story that each one transports me to the exact moment.”
I’m just grateful when others can feel the awe, emotions and moments of astonishment in my photos. I’m just so, so grateful.