Phyllis Russell is certainly not one to draw attention to herself, however when it comes to photography she’s certainly not shy. Whether finding herself at the Kirchhoff ’s Bakery at 4 a.m. or in the kitchen at Leigh’s Barbecue, Phyllis is mesmerized by the details of everyday life and scenery. Her portfolio of photographs is loaded with images of interesting places and people she’s encountered all over the globe.
No subject is too dull, no detail too trivial for Phyllis’ camera to extract intricate textures and details contained in otherwise ordinary subjects. Just about anywhere she goes, Phyllis has her camera on hand to collect images ranging from abandoned architectural spaces and historic landmarks to wildlife found on a South American glacier. She has ventured to some intriguing places and has engaged with cultures and places that most only dream of visiting. No matter what she’s photographing however, Phyllis discovers things with her camera that seemed to go unnoticed before.
Her quiet demeanor perhaps allows her opportunities to photograph people and places in unconventional ways. She captures rich colors and textures in some unsuspecting subjects, utilizing a documentary style of photography.
“I like to catch people off guard and to take pictures of them when they are not paying attention to me,” Phyllis says.
All of Phyllis’ photographs communicate a story or have a significance that sometimes only she is privy to.
“Almost every picture I take has some meaning,” Phyllis says. “It may be a story about a place where my husband and I have traveled, or a flower photographed in a friend’s garden.”
While many of Phyllis’ photos depict peaceful, serene settings and objects, she also loves to be adventurous in her work. She has the unique ability to unveil subtle details in her subjects that give the viewer a new perspective on the elegance of a building or the personality of her subject. Some of her work features images of urban street life that she’s encountered in New York City or pictures of everyday life in a Chinese market.
Phyllis is not afraid to learn new things within the field of digital photography. She began her career in photography taking classes at the Paducah School of Art almost six years ago. Today, Phyllis is part of the Directed Studies program hosted by the college. She spends up to four hours each week working on her photos at the studio there. She raves about the instructors who have worked at the school since she began taking classes and who have encouraged her to explore new heights in photography.
When an opportunity to experience something new or to hone her craft presents itself, Phyllis is quick to take advantage of it. Not long ago she attended a workshop in Wyoming, in which she was able to study with photographers who worked with National Geographic magazine at some point in their careers. Though a bit intimidating to have these professional photographers examine her work, their critique and expertise helped to enhance her skills.
Before photography became such an integral part of her life, Phyllis spent much of her career in the classroom, first teaching second grade and later working as the Computer Lab instructor at Clark Elementary School. Most recently she served for several years as the Paducah Rotary Club’s Executive Secretary and was awarded the honor of Rotarian of the Year when she resigned her post.
It seems that Phyllis has turned all of her attention to photography these days and enjoys the challenges it presents to her.
“Photography has taught me to look for the details in things and the textures they hold,” Phyllis says. “You just look around. Sometimes you think things will make a great picture, but you may not even be fully conscious of what will come out when you photograph it.”
Examples of Phyllis Russell’s artful photography hang in the lobby of Paducah Bank along with other local artists’ contributions. “We really appreciate the creative influence of so many talented artists in our midst in Paducah,” says CEO Joe Framptom. “We are especially happy to present Phyllis’ exceptional photography whose beauty will be enjoyed by all who come into our bank.”