Lens on St. Croix Valley: Capturing Nature

Violet Penman, our photo contest winner, discusses her photos and her natural inspiration.

Local high school senior Violet Penman, who will attend UW-River Falls this year, has a natural instinct for photography. Not only did her photo Valley Bee win first-place in this magazine’s photo contest, but her only other submission, Busy Bee, took home second place. The photos are stunning and colorful, with a vivid focus on the details of their insect subjects.
For these photos, Penman was inspired by a lifelong interest in bees. “It’s amazing how such small, delicate creatures play such an integral role in our environment,” she says.

Penman took the photos last summer in her Hudson backyard, where she says her family has a variety of flowering plants that attract her charming photo subjects for pollination. The pictures themselves were taken on her iPhone, using a special clip-on macro lens, though she generally uses a Sony a100 camera.

Penman has had a longtime interest in photography, but only got into it more seriously in the past two years. As of now, it’s a hobby and artistic expression, but she’s considering turning it into a career. She says her artistic inspiration comes from “nature, especially the little things that most people would pass by without a second glance, such as bees and mushrooms.” Her hope is her photos can “bring more awareness to the importance of these creatures,” she says, and the key role tiny plants, insects and animals play in our ecosystem.  

Are you a fellow photographer? Gather your best St. Croix Valley photos for our annual contest, which will take place again in August this year. We accept photos in five categories: Activities and Events, City Landmarks, Wildlife and Nature, People and Families, and Pets. Submissions are accepted online, and readers’ choice voting takes place the following month.