Born and raised near Pittsburgh, PA, Debra Achen developed a passion for art and a connection to nature as a young child. She majored in Art Education at Edinboro State University before completing her BA in Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. In addition to training in traditional film and darkroom photography, she studied a variety of studio arts, including drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. After years of painting nature-based abstracts, the gift of a digital camera put her on the creative path of fine art photography. This coincided with a move to the Monterey Peninsula, an area steeped in the history of West Coast fine art photography and an environment that provides endless inspiration for her work. Achen’s work has been featured in international juried exhibitions throughout the U.S and Europe. She has also been invited to a number of curated exhibitions, including Fire and Water at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, CA and The Elementalists with William Giles and Carol Henry at Carmel Visual Arts Gallery.

Artist’s Statement

The exploration of nature on all levels is at the heart of my photography. I am intrigued by the fundamental structures of nature and the way the elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Gravity, Light, Space, and Time – imprint our world with their magic. My introduction to fine art photography was through the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Minor White. I immediately resonated with their portrayal of nature and landscape. However, I was first influenced artistically by painters. I admired the ability of impressionists to render the feeling and experience of a scene, rather than simply an accurate depiction of it. With the devastating impacts of climate change, I have come to feel nostalgic about the natural world, even as I am photographing it. Images often take on a vintage appearance with a dreamy, timeless quality that also carries hope for nature’s resilience.