Artist Spotlight: Debra Woodward

‘I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.”  ~Man Ray (1890-1976), American visual artist

A NH native, Debra Woodward has interested in fine art photography since she was a child.  In 2009 she began studying with Newburyport photographer Robert Chiller with a goal to master her SLR and also to learn what makes a good photograph as opposed to just a snapshot.  She began to understand the importance shadows and light and of working to get a good shot without depending on a lot of post manipulation.  On top of street shooting, Debra enjoys capturing musicians at work, café goers, horses jumping in the snow, even a couple weddings for close friends.  In the last few years Debra has been lucky to travel to France, Italy, Canada, and Santa Fe, and many of her recent photographs on display at the Seacoast Artist Association gallery were taken there as well as locally.

Peggy and Debra (artist photo for our “Café Life” show) by Jon Strymish

In 2017 Debra shared a successful exhibit entitled “Café Life” with NH oil painter Peg Murray at the NH Art Association; Debra’s dramatic black and white photography were a fine contrast and complement to Peggy’s colorful oil paintings.  Some of these photos are featured here:

Winner of an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Joan L. Dunfey Memorial Juried Exhibition. Taken in Provence.

Escargot by Debra Woodward

On a Thanksgiving trip to Quebec City I stayed quite a while in this wonderful café to keep shooting as night fell and the light changed. I loved the parallel lines, but also wanted this light on the outside building.

Nektar Nektar Cafeologue

On a rainy night in Paris I stood in a doorway and tried to capture a story I thought I saw developing. The young man in the restaurant looks dejected, and if you look carefully you see a pair of feet escaping the frame in the bottom right. So perfect for a restaurant named “Terminus”.

The End by Debra Woodward

In Paris I ducked into a doorway when I saw this adorable dog across the street, hoping he would look at me–and finally he did! I always expect to find a book in a subject’s hand but now it is inevitably a smartphone.

Left Bank Café, Paris by Debra Woodward

Debra also recently did a solo show titled “Tuscan Laundry” and some of these photos can be seen at the SAA gallery. One will be in the upcoming “Eye of the Beholder” show with a painting of this photo by oil painter Bob Richardson.

Tuscan Laundry by Debra Woodward

Debra is a member of the Seacoast Artist Association in Exeter and the Newburyport Art Association. She is also a juried member of the NH Art Association and a former board member. Her work has been accepted into the NHAA’s Annual Parfitt Photography Exhibition for the past several years, two of her photographs were accepted into their 2017 (one Honorable Mention) and 2013 Joan L. Dunfey Memorial Juried Exhibition and one into the 29th Annual Omer T. Lassonde Open Juried Exhibition in 2015. In 2014 her “Purple Blanket” was awarded Best in Photography at the Newburyport Art Association Winter Juried Exhibition Part 1. She studied for six years with Robert Chiller of Chiller Photography in West Newbury, MA.  Now hoping, as Man Ray said above, to “paint what cannot be photographed”, Debra is studying oil painting with artist Robert Richardson of Amesbury, MA.

Debra has worked in the book industry for over 35 years, including seven years as buyer for Barnes and Noble in New York City. She currently works as sales manager for the book publisher Red Wheel/Weiser in Newburyport, MA.  Debra shares her Seacoast NH home with her husband, Terry Dostie and three fabulous felines, Sinbad, Pearl, and Maybeline, all adopted from the NHSPCA. Please adopt/support them!

See more of Debra Woodward’s images in her virtual gallery page. Debra is one of the four SAA gallery artisans.

She can be contacted at

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