Culture Collage: Lana Gramlich, Abita Springs photographer shares beauty in nature

By Kathleen DesHotel, The New Orleans Advocate

Editors note: "Lana is married to former Charleston resident, Charles Gramlich. They live in Abita Springs, Louisiana."

Being a great photographer involves more than merely "taking pictures." Being motivated by a philosophy drives the talented artist to actually say something in art.

"The theme of my work is serenity," said local and international artist Lana Gramlich. "I am trying to find peace in nature so that I can share that beauty with others."

She is a nature photographer looking for beauty around her home in Abita Springs and throughout St. Tammany.

"I look for how the light hits the mist through the trees, birds in their habitats, creatures in the swamps and woods. I keep it relaxed and leisurely," Gramlich said.

She uses a free editing program, Gimp, and keeps that to a minimum. Many people have asked her to teach them how she takes such beautiful pictures, and her first line of advice is "learn your camera." Taking photos at several different settings in different environments then analyzing the products makes for great learning, she said.

"I have always had the drive to learn and share what I do. Since I am not a teacher type, I am writing a little book about using the camera to acquire good photographs. I want to keep it basic, simple, small and affordable," she said.

Her procedure has been productive. A photo taken in Abita Springs, "Autumn Morning," is featured in the current issue of Digital Photo magazine.

She is particularly proud of being published in the seventh annual Emerging Pro Competition for Professional Photographer magazine; being a finalist in the Royal Observatory Greenwhch’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, best newcomer category; and included in the Visions of the Universe exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London.

She also has an image on permanent display in the Palais de la découvert Universcience Museum in Paris as part of its geology exhibit, "Earth and Life."

In November, Gramlich will be the featured artist at Gallery Aubergine, in Mandeville, and will be part of a March exhibition in the visitors center at Crosby Arboretum, in Picayune, Mississippi.

Seeking peace is a driving force originating in childhood and what she calls a "chaotic upbringing.

"I was born on Friday the 13th, a 3-pound premature baby sold on the black market. The man who purchased me was a wealthy judge in New York. Until I was 10, life was fine." Once he died, her life changed.

By the time Gramlich was 17, she was able to escape abuse and neglect and struck out on her own to Canada.

"I always knew that I wanted to immerse myself in art, but without encouragement or support, what I used most was a pencil. When paints were provided in high school and a few art classes, I painted art filled with angst and darkness."

Even though she was drawn to artistic expression, Gramlich found the process of painting agonizing.

"I used a little point-and-shoot camera to gather reference photos in order to paint scenery," she said. Once the photos were developed, she felt "nothing could be better than this." She had discovered photography.

Eventually, a friend gave her an SLR with lenses that she learned to use until it was stolen along with her car. She tried painting again but found "it was a stressful process."

She purchased her first Canon in 2007 and found the change was ultimately rewarding for her. Eventually, her husband, Xavier psychology professor Charles Gramlich, understood she needed a professional camera and found a used Canon 5D and lenses for sale.

"Unfortunately, right after that, I was diagnosed with cancer," she said. "The treatment prevented me from using it."

Gramlich is now in remission and back at work in her job with the St. Tammany Public Library.

"I am thrilled to be here on the right side of the ground," she said.

Gramlich and her camera are back on the trail of serenity, seeing nature and experiencing life.

"All of my experiences good and bad have brought me to this point. I am good at what I do, and I need to be in the field doing what I do best.

"My photography enables me to share the beauty and peace I find with others who may benefit from my images," she said.

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Kathleen DesHotel writes about the cultural arts in St. Tammany. To reach her, email