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Shooting photos is second nature to Colusa photographer
A hobby to capture her children in their youth has become a professional venture for a Colusa woman — and her work is getting regional attention.
A photograph that Sue Graue took in the Sutter Buttes was chosen to be auctioned off as part of the KVIE public television fundraiser.
The piece, titled "Sutter Buttes Path, December," is also part of a juried competition, with winners in six categories and a best of show to be announced at the station's Preview Gala on Sept. 24.
More than 300 art pieces will be on display. The on-air auction will be held 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 28; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 29; and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 30.
The mere fact that Graue's piece is in the outdoors is hardly surprising. She said she usually starts her day somewhere outside, and often at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge along Highway 20 west of town.
She says nature inspires her, and presents its own unique challenges.
"Every time I go out ... it is always a challenge to capture the natural world," Graue said. "You are dealing with all the elements: light, what you see, what you don't see; I never get bored," she said. "And if I do get something, I can share it."
Graue said she has dabbled in other art forms, such as watercolors, but photography has been the one constant. She started by just taking pictures of her children. Back then, she recalls, it was film, and she had to learn how to develop her photos.
At one point in her life, she got away from photography. "I picked it up again in '99. I bought a used camera because mine was broken, but it fit all my lenses," Graue said.
"I was just looking for some beauty each day."
Eventually she evolved into digital photography, and that led her to begin creating greeting cards because she could manipulate the images on a computer.
In 2007, she was approached about doing a show for the local hospital, where Graue works part-time in public relations.
"I almost didn't do it because (photography) was part of my really private world," said Graue, explaining that taking pictures had become a kind of therapy for dealing with tough times, personal and the stress she felt over such things as war. "But my friend encouraged me to do it."
Graue said she collected about 20 photos for the show, many from her days of using film, and the reaction she got was overwhelming.
Then the owner of a camera shop suggested she might be able to make a little money on the side.
"He said if you got a good eye and a good camera and lens, you can be a professional," Graue said. "And it was like a light bulb went off."
Graue started her own business, and has become fairly busy with portraits and other work.
Now, she and some of her photographer friends have started a project about which she is very excited. "In 2012, I got together with some other photographers and we are trying to take a photograph every day and post it on Facebook," she said.
It has been a challenge to seek out a worthy photo each day, but not surprisingly, many of Graue's are out in nature.