Here at the new and improved Hometown Pasadena site, we’re showcasing our favorite area blogs. And one of our very favorites is Pasadena Daily Photo, which every single day delivers not only an engaging photograph shot somewhere in our fair town, but also smart writing by photographer/blogger Petrea Burchard. In her other life, Petrea is an actress, so she certainly qualifies as one of Pasadena’s more creative Creative Types. We talked to Petrea about her work, her town and her passions.
Because my husband and I care about living in a beautiful place. People in Pasadena are passionate about beauty. We don’t always agree on what that means, but we’re fervent about it. Pasadena even legislates with beauty in mind. It’s not the only important thing, but we’re both artists so it’s high on our list.
You’re a working actress, but apparently that’s not enough of a creative challenge. How does the creative expression of photography differ from that of acting?
I’ve been fortunate as an actor because I’ve made a living at it, mostly in the field of voice-over. But you guessed it: for a non-star in Hollywood, or at least for me, the paying work is usually not creative. It’s good work and I love it, but I still need a creative outlet.
Acting is almost always collaborative work. Photography is something I usually do alone. Inspired by another blogger, Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo, I picked up the camera on impulse and started teaching myself. I didn’t know what I was getting into. It’s a challenge to take good pictures, and that’s half the fun for me.
On the blog I let the photo inspire what I say. Sometimes I research the subject and say a lot about it, sometimes I don’t. It’s up to me, and that’s one of my favorite things about the blog. I’m in charge. It’s freeing, yet I can be tough on myself. And since I’ve called it Pasadena Daily Photo, as opposed to, say, “Petrea Daily Photo,” I feel a responsibility to be accurate and positive as well as honest.
Then come the comments. People join in, elaborate, enlighten, converse among themselves, etc. It’s great. Without them it would be like talking to myself.
And how does writing differ from photography and acting?
You have to get dressed and get out of the house to act and take pictures! Well, you don’t, but really you should.
Besides the blog, which is very social — it’s a conversation with my town and with the world! — my other writing is solitary for now. Up until the end of 2008 I was writing a humor column about the acting business for NowCasting.com, a membership site. The column is called Act As If, and it still runs monthly. (They’re playing my “greatest hits.”)
I also get up early every morning to put in a few hours on my novel. If I hadn’t thought writing was solitary before, now that I’m doing it before sunrise I know it for sure.
Are you working on another talent? Like playing the ukelele or studying dance?
Ha! I’ve got a list of things I’d love to do, but it doesn’t include either of those! And like most people, my list is longer than my schedule has room for. But I’m taking a couple of the free gardening workshops the city offers this spring. So far I’m really good at saving water and raising weeds.
How are bloggers changing the way we experience the world?
I can’t answer for everyone, but I can tell you how blogging has changed the way I experience the world. It has given me access to new people in new ways.
When I began Pasadena Daily Photo on January 1, 2008, I thought it would help me learn about Pasadena. It has done that and more. I continue to discover my town in ways I’ve never discovered any other place, not even the town I grew up in. Photography is one thing; feeling the responsibility to teach people about the photo is another. I research almost every photo I post.
Then there’s the blogging community. People visit Pasadena Daily Photo from around the world, and I visit their blogs. I’ve become friends with bloggers everywhere from Willits, California to Paris, France to Mashhad, Iran to the Jerusalem hills. I’ve learned about their worlds, not through news media or government posturing, but through the people. It’s enlightening.
Pasadena’s blogging community is vast, diverse and welcoming. Many local bloggers are writers, so blogging here has connected me to our writing community as well. More than ever before, I feel very much a part of my town and very much a part of my world.
Have you ever had a day when you just can’t find a good shot?
Oh, plenty! I’m grateful for the days when I get more than one and I bank those extras, just in case.