photo by Gradon Winn
Through the viewfinder of her camera, this Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Susan Walsh peered at the sky over Annapolis, ed Maryland, look as the Blue Angels performed their aerials wonders. She made photographs of the jets and liked what she captured in digital images. “But they were like many of the other Blue Angel photos that people see,” she remembers. “So, when I had a little free time, I started splicing pieces.”
Susan began mirroring the images, then mirroring the mirroring. “And kaleidoscope popped into my head,” she says. The Blue Angels became the first of many familiar sights that turned into unfamiliar and facinating forms with her kaleidograph technique, the cornerstone of White Dog Pix.
“I want the viewer to be surprised,” Susan says. “I want people to be intrigued when they look at the kaleidograph across the room. Then, when they go closer and really look at the image, they can see that there is something very familiar in it — the Bay Bridge or crabs or sailboats or the Blue Angels.”
The original content of each photo is true to life. Susan doesn’t create clouds or add people or perform any other kind of “content” manipulation.
“I think of my kaleidographs as a photo puzzle and I found a new way for the pieces to fit together. That’s the creative part,” she says. “It’s exciting to make a photo and not know how the pieces will work as a kaleidograph. Since this is a relatively new technique, I can’t predict how the original image will come together.”
Creating mind-bending art doesn’t come naturally to Susan. As a photojournalist for The Associated Press based in Washington, D.C., she presents events as they happen. Her primary beat is the White House and the federal government — she was part of the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for its feature coverage of the Clinton impeachment — but she also has photographed five Olympic Games and a half- dozen Super Bowls.
Susan, who now lives in Annapolis, grew up in Las Vegas and attended a small high school in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She earned a degree in journalism from Boston University. From 2001-2006 she was president of the White House News Photographers Association.
The name White Dog Pix is a nod to Susan’s first American Eskimo dog, Dakota.