Community Spotlight - Maryellen Casey

by Kris - June 19, 2024

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, your life away from photography.

I’m blessed to be married to my best friend, who I met in our high school music room a shockingly long time ago, and we just celebrated our 39th anniversary. We live in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in the middle of New York’s gorgeous Finger Lakes region (huge lakes! waterfalls! wineries!!) — which is still one of our favorite places. We have no kids or pets (which makes some of the photo prompts challenging…)

I work full time for the publishing division of an adult literacy non-profit, where I’ve been for 20+ years. I help make books for adults who are learning to read English. I’m also a member of the board of directors and/or a committed volunteer for several local classical chamber music organizations, and an attendee of way too many concerts, theater performances, art exhibits, etc. (When I sometimes fall off posting daily, it’s usually because I need more hours in my week!)

Even though I sit behind a computer screen for 8 hours a day, I enjoy being active. I go to the gym regularly, and love walking, swimming, and kayaking. I’ve been in an international folk dance group for about 25 years, and have taken tap dance classes on and off for the past several years.

I enjoy spending time in the garden (but you already know that!), cooking, and baking. I'm trying to learn Spanish with DuoLingo. And travel — especially international — has always been a passion.

Maryellen Casey

 When and how did you first become interested in photography?

My dad was the photographer in the family, and I was a “daddy’s girl,” so I’ve been taking pictures since dad got me my first Kodak Instamatic in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. After college, I got more serious and had photos in some juried art shows, but then life got busy and photography slipped away. 

footprints in sand

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

Flowers, water, nature, interesting light and shadows, and anything that happens to catch my eye during the day. I particularly enjoy macro photography -- maybe because I’m extremely nearsighted! 

BW scene

What equipment do you use? Camera? Favorite lens? Editing software?

My camera is my iPhone 14; I don’t have a “real” camera. (Maybe when I eventually retire…) Back in the film days, I had an SLR and all sorts of equipment, but got to the point where I just didn’t want to carry it all everywhere, so I ended up only taking photos on special occasions. After digital photography became a thing, I got a Canon point-and-shoot, but once I got an iPhone, I got spoiled by always having a decent camera with me. And I love the ease of taking photos, editing them on my phone with Snapseed (and/or any of the fun photo apps I have too many of), and uploading them. 


How long have you been taking a photo a day? What got you started with this project?

At the end of 2012, I was missing photography and looking for a way to get back to it. I found Katrina Kennedy’s “Capture Your 365” group and decided as a New Year’s resolution (which I never make!) I’d try it for just one month in January 2013. And I’m still here, in this wonderful group that grew out of that one!  

blue flowers

What keeps you going with taking a photo a day? What do you find most challenging about this project?

After all these years, one of the biggest challenges is coming up with new ideas and finding things I haven’t shot dozens of times before. Another is that, since I’ve mostly been working from home since the pandemic, I’m not out and about in the city like I was when I worked downtown. My suburban neighborhood is lovely but not that photographically interesting! But I like having the documentation of my life and a reason to actively notice the world around me, so I keep at it — though I’ve never actually managed a complete 365 days yet!  

BW portrait og a man

 What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning a photo a day project?

Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to ignore the prompts if they don’t speak to you, and the world won’t end if you miss a day, or a week, or a month. Just shoot what reflects your life when you can. When you look back, any photos are better than no photos! 


What are your favorite kinds of prompts? Least favorite?

The more general the better! When a prompt is too specific, it practically guarantees that thing or situation won't be available to me that day. Nothing like a "sunset" prompt to guarantee a gray and rainy day!

boats in fog

How do you feel about taking monthly self portraits?

I try to embrace the monthly selfies the same way I do when friends aim a camera at me — if someone wants a photo of me, or might want to see one someday, it means they care about me, and that’s a great gift.  

husband and wife

Please feel free to share any other thoughts.

I'm so grateful to the admin team for continuing all the work involved in keeping this group alive and well. I appreciate you all! 🩷

glasses with flowers

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