It all started with a Polaroid.
mary e coakley reckons she took more than a hundred Polaroids as a teen, when her career as a photographer began to blossom.
Four decades on, coakley has raised a family, travelled the world and shot more than 100,000 images.
“I always loved the idea of taking pictures,” recalled coakley, who bought her first 35mm camera after he first child was born.
“I was very self-taught from the beginning. I would impose myself sweetly on anyone who had a decent looking camera and looked like they knew what they were doing.”
Lee-Ann Ruttan was drawn into photography as a teen, too.
Often, she found herself drawn to the world around her. “I love capturing the moments I see. Anything,” she said.
But Ruttan has taken a more protracted route to her photography. For years, her photo taking was more about taking photos for herself.
It wasn’t until about two years ago at urging of family and friends she became more public with her work. “I just love doing it.”
Both women will have the work exhibited at this year’s Sooke Fine Arts Show, which begins Friday.
They’ll be among 274 artists accepted into the show, exhibiting more than 381 pieces.
Since 2012, coakley has appeared in the show six times. This is the first time Ruttan will have the honour, after also trying in 2017.
The Sooke Fine Arts Show, considered by many as the Island’s premier art show, runs from July 27 to Aug. 6 at SEAPAEC Arena.
Over the 11 days of the show, more than 8,000 art lovers from Canada, the U.S. and abroad will visit Sooke’s art extravaganza.
Along with the art exhibits, the show also features live entertainment, demonstrations, talks, guided tours and a gift shop.
This year’s show will look different, said Christa Brenan, executive director of the Sooke Fine Arts Society. The layout of the show and gallery is freshened up so regular attendees should be prepared for “pleasant surprises.”
“Not to give away any surprises, but this year it is a very different show than we had anticipated, with a very West Coast theme, including many pieces focussing myriad ways of showing the sea whether in oil, 3-D, fibre art and jewellery,” Brenan said.
“Many of these reflect concerns about Kinder Morgan, about fish farming and other current events. There is bound to be something for everyone at the show with colourful offerings on display from traditional to contemporary.”
For Ruttan and coakley, it’s a chance to share their art, through photographs, to an appreciative public.
“I was very excited when I found out I was in the show,” Ruttan said. “It just encourages me to keep going.”
Added coakley: I am focused on producing fine art, making sense of over 80,000images, developing my website and producing travel slide shows to promote my work and encourage others to go out into the world for their own adventures.”