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Mentor: eLIzabeth Opalenik


© Tom Antos

From her earliest days doing advertising and editorial assignments, Elizabeth Opalenik was recognized for the poetic grace and movement of her images. Today she is primarily a fine-art photographer and a much-sought-after educator for the sense of wonder and possibility she awakens in students. 
Elizabeth's images have been shown internationally and profiled in most major photographic publications. She employs the Mordançage process, handpainting, toning, and other diverse transfer processes in creating her innovative, one-of-a-kind images, and she mixes digital and traditional technologies to explore all the creative possibilities. She considers images as stepping stones that trace where the mind has been, believing that they reflect the unique vision that each of us carries through life.

Elizabeth says, “My teaching is based on the belief that all good photographs are self-portraits that lie somewhere between imagination and dreams. Photography is a way of seeing not only what is visible to the eye, but also sensed with the heart.” 

Elizabeth recently published her first monograph, Poetic Grace: Elizabeth Opalenik Photographs 1979-2007. "Publishing Poetic Grace opened many doors,” she said, “but more importantly allowed me to close some and move on to new projects. There is a wonderful sense of completion when you can organize bodies of work in such a way that allows you to move forward. I would gladly share that knowledge with others.”

Elizabeth leads figure and alternative process workshops around the world, and has taught for the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops for 13 years. Her Web site address is www.opalenik.com.

As a mentor, Elizabeth's intent is to help students find excitement in their images and rekindle the passion that started them down the road of photography. A self-described cheerleader, she works with students to set goals so that they can move forward with the next step. She uses conversations, exercises, critiques, and even personal visits, and encourages the adoption of a “what if?” attitude that encourages photographers to view their subjects from many directions.