We had the good fortune of connecting with Theresa DiMenno and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Theresa, what inspires you?
I love the intimacy and connection I feel when photographing an individual, a landscape or close-up of a flower. The timing of elements aligning into a perfect photographic moment is a moving experience. At the essence of my passion and chosen career path of photography, the core of what inspires me the most is, quite simply, the light. Sunrise awakens the delicate crown of bluebonnets radiant in a chorus of shimmering golden light. Moments pass, shadows fall below wing petals in sway of a gentle breeze. Sunset afterglow settles across the mesa’s sagebrush as twilight lends the eventide its peaceful coolness. Light has color, tone, substance. Light inspires mood. Light inspires awe.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a storyteller at heart, fascinated by what lies beneath the surface. For nine years, I photographed the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly, searching for chrysalids on the underside of leaves in our garden. I’ve waited hours with camera in hand, to witness a caterpillar casting off its skin. Patience is the underlying lesson I learned from photographing monarchs. Patience to be in stillness and witness what comes forth, oftentimes the ordinary waxing extraordinary. I’ve lived various photographic lives and have continually reinvented myself, beginning my career as a music photographer, now shooting mostly nature. I never would have continued this long and fruitful journey without perseverance. I learned to develop a thicker skin around setbacks and rejection. I learned to collaborate with my peers, sharing diverse perspectives and insight. I’ve taken risks, tried new things. In light of disappointment, rejection, failure, talent and creativity, the single reason I’m still here doing what I do is because I stayed the course. Currently, I’ve created a new line of note cards, Spring in Texas, inspired by the ever abundant Texas wildflowers.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
My friend, who lives in a small northern New Mexico mountain town, is traveling to Houston for a week, and the following are a handful of places I’d recommend. Houston is large, offering a plethora of activities, therefore I’ll focus my attention on the inner loop area. Houston is renown for its wide range of dining experiences that fit any budget and palette. For breakfast, Avalon Diner since 1938, takes us back to the drugstore era. Baby Barnaby’s resides in lower Montrose offering a large, tasty, affordable breakfast. For a south of the border, upscale Saturday or Sunday brunch, Hugo’s is a must. Take in reinvented preparations of Indian cuisine at Pondicheri on Kirby Dr. and don’t miss their bakery items. For an immense, flavorful Indian buffet, Shiva in the Village is it. Afterward, take in the the multitude of nearby shops. True Food Kitchen in the Galleria is a restaurant inspired by the philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse. Their chef inspired dishes are delicious and nutritious. Huynh Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine on Emanuel St. behind the George R. Brown Convention Center is an absolute favorite. Be advised, they don’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own bottle. Chuy’s Tex-Mex is always a favorite and is where my husband spontaneously proposed! Their margaritas are the best. Coltivare in the Heights is a delicious Italian restaurant, dictated by Houston’s growing season and their own back yard garden. There are so many great Houston restaurants, it’s difficult to narrow it down, but these choices should get you started. And don’t forget Empire Cafe in Montrose! The choices for culture and art are immense. Houston is super supportive of the arts and the options of galleries and museums are endless. The world renown MFAH is the hub of the art community. The Holocaust Museum is state of the art. Visit the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyscape on the Rice University campus, free and open to the public. From the symphony to the Alley Theatre and the Miller Outdoor Summer Theatre, you’ll experience the full cultural realm. For a great hike, meander the lengthy Terry Hershey Park on the west side of town. The Historic Heights Theater is an intimate listening room, showcasing touring and local musicians. Arrive early for dinner and a stroll along 19th St. A day or overnight trip to Galveston is a sweet getaway. With gently rolling waves, a historic shopping district and an amusement park over the gulf, you can’t go wrong. Travel west away from the seawall to Galveston Island State Park for a more tranquil experience. Back in Houston, check out Catalina Coffee for an eclectic respite. Onion Creek in the Heights is a great stop for a glass and conversation. Under the Volcano serves light fare and an extensive craft cocktail bar, featuring bands and solo artists on the weekends. Wind down the week downtown at Sambuca, a four-star dining and live music experience. Or simply stop in for a night cap and catch a cool local band.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In my early twenties, I purchased my first manual camera in preparation for an extended trip to California. During the three months along the California coast, I was pleased with the imagery I captured. Inspired by the fauna and flora, scents and vibe of the people and landscape, I returned to Houston renewed and refreshed. I shot cloud formations, sunsets, festivals and portraits. I entered a Houston Post photo contest, won second place, was published with a byline and paid $75.00. In that defining moment, I entertained the notion of becoming a professional photographer. I answered an ad requesting volunteer photographers for a monthly newspaper called Houston Breakthrough: Where Women Are News. Having no formal training in photography, I nervously made the call. The owner/publisher, Janice Blue, took a chance and sent me out on assignment. Without pressure for payment, stress and insecurity were eased. I did well on the shoot and continued working with Janice over the next couple of years. She often nudged me to push further, encouraging me to reach beyond my comfort zone, always with kindness and respect. Her continual support and guidance, steered me in the direction to take a leap of faith and quit the nine to five office job. I’ve always considered her my mentor and we remain close friends to this day.