About & Media
Hello! I’m Debbie Brady: photographer and creator of Oyster Art.
I live on an apple farm in rural Prince Edward Island where, for over 20 years, I’ve been enjoying my career as a graphic designer. Throughout my life I’ve dabbled in a variety of creative outlets—but only until I unraveled the mystery they initially afforded. Once I began looking through a camera lens, especially a macro one, I’ve been continually intrigued by the never ending possibilities available to pursue. There is always something new to learn and experiment with. I love taking photos and have worked hard to become a skilled photographer by reading, watching tutorials, taking workshops and, of course, lots and lots of practice! Not every photo has been a keeper but that only makes me glad that I am able to use a digital camera. I don’t think I would have had the patience to use film. I shoot RAW format and post-process to create images that have been fortunate to win awards through juried submissions and displayed at exhibitions. Photography makes me lose all track of time! If that means time stands still when I have a camera in my hands I hope it translates into a long life yet to live!
Artist’s Statement, Photographic Style and Resume are located at bottom of this web page.
Artsy Shark’s Featured Artist – read article
Artsy Shark has featured me, creator of Oyster Art on their media network after being accepted during a competitive Call for Artists. In 2009 Carolyn Edlund, founded Artsy Shark which, over the years, has published hundreds of articles on art marketing and business strategies. Carolyn has also worked one-on-one with artists and creatives, providing private business consulting services.
The feature’s caption reads: Enjoy the impressive portfolio of Canadian photographer Debbie Brady, whose macro images explore the hidden beauty in nature. She creates Oyster Art using special equipment that magnifies intricate details of each shell. A PDF of the online feature was created for me and can be read here.
To access features of other artists as well as the wealth of interesting and practical articles click here.
“Island Artist Unlocks Hidden Beauty in Oyster Shells” – read article
Earlier in December 2022, I was interviewed by Andrew Chisholm, journalist and publisher of Island Edition, a fast method to learn the most important details of what’s happening in the Prince Edward Island community.
Andrew Chisholm wrote:
“An unlikely audition led Tyne Valley’s Debbie Brady to focus her artistic attention toward something more famous than PEI’s fictional redhead. Debbie returned home from a walk along the shore with an oyster shell one day. With no expectations, she placed the shell under her macro photography lens and was immediately inspired by what she now calls Oyster Art.
The process begins with a trip to the shore. Less than ten per cent of shells hold the physical details required to create this unique art. Once a shell is selected, a series of extreme close-up photographs are snapped of a very small portion of the shell. These images are then digitally stitched together. The result is a piece of natural art full of patterns and vibrant colours . . . READ MORE
Innovation PEI Profile of Oyster Art Studio & Gallery
Earlier this year I was interviewed by Innovation PEI as part of their mandate to profile and promote PEI businesses. They created this video which allows me to give an overview of my journey and process creating Oyster Art.
In October 2022 National Geographic Japan published several articles about Malpeque Bay and Oyster Culture. I was humbled and thrilled to be interviewed at my Studio & Gallery in June, after which I anxiously waited four months to read what they gleaned from the answers I gave to their questions. The following is a translation of the original article sent to me.
Oyster Art, a microcosm inside an oyster shell
It’s so beautiful, but what exactly is it a picture of? …… There are thin layers of purple, yellow, and pink, like mica, and a fleeting bubble pattern. It looks like the surface of the moon, or a satellite photo of part of the earth. It never occurred to me that this was taken with a macro (close-up) lens of a tiny space of a small oyster shell.
I visited Debbie Brady, the creator of such unique works, at her studio and gallery, Oyster Art, in the Tyne Valley. Debbie gives the impression of an elegant elderly lady, but she is a photographer who uses her unique technique to capture the mysterious world of oyster shells that no one had ever noticed before. She is a nurse-turned-graphic designer, and while directing photo shoots, she decided she wanted to try her hand at photography herself, and in 2009 began to study it in earnest.
One day, she happened to bring back from the beach a beautiful oyster shell, and she took a picture of a small part of it, magnifying it like a microscope. When she took a picture of a small part of the oyster shell, she found an unexpected scene.
When people ask me why oysters, all I can say is that they found me. Out of all the oyster shells I have collected from all over the world, less than 10% of them are worth photographing. Sometimes they look beautiful at first glance, but when you zoom in, there’s not much there that you want to photograph, or you find an incredibly beautiful part of the shell that has been damaged by the elements. So you could say that every oyster has a chance (laughs).
Debbie’s book, Oyster Art: The Book, self-published this year (2022), is a detailed documentation, beautiful photographs and short poems of oyster shells collected and selected from over 40 locations on PEI. Each shell in the book has a story. Where were they born and how did they grow up? It seemed like a hidden gem, unique to this island surrounded by the sea.
Jeff, an oyster fisherman, told me that the native Mi’kmaq people were called “shell people” and that oysters and mussels were their main source of protein. Debbie’s work is a valuable record that traces that tradition and history, and is a stunning piece of oyster art that expresses the richness of PEI’s oyster culture. The book is divided into four scenic areas and we recommend it as a tourist guidebook for traveling PEI through oysters.
Macro > Larger Than Life Exhibit
Oyster Art participated in the International Juried Photography Exhibition held at Praxis Gallery — Minneapolis, Minnesota (Sept 24–Oct 8, 2022). Symphonic was inspired by an oyster shell from Wood Islands, PE. It is part of the collection’s Open Edition. This image is composed of 15 captures taken at 1:1 magnification. It’s the first piece which includes the domed crustacean known as an acorn barnacle.
I had driven 142 km to Wood Islands to take the Northumberland Ferry to Caribou, Nova Scotia. While waiting for it to arrive, it dawned on me that I didn’t have any oyster shells from this location. So, I climbed over the guard rail and down an embankment of large rocks. I wanted to see what I could find along the narrow strip of shoreline still available at high tide. I’m not certain how this over-the-rail excursion was interpreted by other travellers passing by, but I was on a mission. My mini-adventure was rewarded with several shells. Demarcation is another piece inspired from an oyster shell found that day.
Finalist at PEI Business Women’s Pitchfest
I was one of six Island women entrepreneurs selected as a finalist for the PEIBWA 2022 Sensational Summer PitchFest Competition held in July 2022. It was a competitive pitch competition for women entrepreneurs from across PEI seeking growth capital for an innovative business venture or to further develop or launch a new product or service. This video shares my time-limited presentation to a panel of four judges.
I didn’t win the $15,000 prize but did benefit from the one-on-one pitch coaching by industry experts prior to the live pitch competition. Congratulations to Sarah Bennetto O’Brien, owner/creator of The Handpie Company (as well as owner of two pieces of Oyster Art)!
Oyster Art: The Book launch
Crystal MacGregor, Director of Communications & Marketing at Food Island Partnership interviewed me, Debbie Brady, during the set up for the Island launch of Oyster Art: The Book and art exhibit (video short of exhibit) held at The Guild, in Charlottetown, PEI on June 17–18. They are on Instagram @pei_socialshell
Oyster Art went National on The Marilyn Denis Show
Andrew Pike is the resident Interior Design Expert on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show. On the June 28, 2021 Andrew shared his favourite east coast decor finds. I was chosen as one of four Prince Edward Island artisans for my macro photography collection of Oyster Art. This video shows Oyster Art’s one minute and four seconds of fame ;o)
“The Vastness of Tiny Things” – read article pgs 76–81
A Prince Edward Island photographer captures images of oysters to create unusual and fascinating artworks
Creating Oyster Art allows me to explore nature’s miniature world and magnify it for everyone to see and enjoy. Being featured in Home in Canada’s 2020 Winter Edition was such an honour and helps share it a little more quickly. (Pages 76-81)
Author Elisabeth Kalbfuss wrote:
“Debbie Brady is passionate about oysters. It’s not their taste or texture—in fact, she never eats them. It’s the beauty she finds in their shells: the lines, unexpected shadows and shades of colour that are invisible until she searches out and exposes them in her photography.
Living on the Oyster Coast in Prince Edward Island, and armed with a new macro camera lens, Brady decided it was only natural that as she explored the up-close intricacies of the world around her, she would turn her eye to the shells on nearby beaches. ‘If I can get to the shore, it’s my happy place,’ she says. ‘I looked at weathered oyster shells; it was so exciting. They had this beautiful texture.’ Other subjects came and went, but her fascination with oyster shells kept growing.” READ MORE (pgs 76–81)
“The Search for Hidden Beauty” – read article
In the summer of 2019 I was very grateful to have my story as an oyster industry enthusiast told by enthusiastic seafood lover Virginia Shaffer on her online blog The Lady Oyster, where I was featured as an “Oyster Enthusiast”.
Virginia Shaffer wrote:
“Many of us know that an oyster is more than just an appetizer on half shell. Most of us also understand an oyster’s role as a keystone species in nature and its profound effect on our water quality and biodiversity. Beyond their tangible ocean powers, these creatures spark our imaginations. There is something about oysters – their colors, shape and lifestyle that can capture our sea-loving hearts through poetry, paint, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more.
I found Debbie’s art showcased on social media, and she was a part of my artist series I compiled earlier this year. Her perspective was something I had not seen in any other oyster-inspired artist. Without giving too much away from her own story, Debbie’s photography has taught me that there is another beautiful, intrinsic part of our world when we take the time to look a little more closely. . . ” READ MORE
“Woman in the Spotlight” -read article
PEI Living Magazine is a quarterly publication that celebrates everything about living on the island which includes arts and entertainment. I was excited to be included in their Arts & Entertainment section and talk about Oyster Art. I hope that celebrating the beauty of oysters through my artwork will help raise the profile of this very important industry on Prince Edward Island.
Q. How long have you been creating this art form? It’s such a unique idea – how did you get started?
A. I began taking photography classes in 2013. Being a curious, detail-oriented person it wasn’t long before I gravitated to using a macro lens, much like a scientist uses a microscope, to examine things closely. My ‘happy place’ is walking along the shore so collecting beach treasures comes naturally. In 2016 I was using my macro lens to check out some of my treasure when I saw what was hidden from casual view in an oyster shell. I was totally impressed seeing something extraordinarily new in something so familiar! It took me three years of collecting, cataloging, photographing and assessing the idea before I developed a plan to launch an “Oyster Art” collection in a way that would garner the attention oysters deserve. The photographer Ansel Adams said it for me “I work to transform curiosity into art.” READ ARTICLE
“To See the World in an Oyster Shell” –read article
Salty is Prince Edward Island’s only comprehensive food and farm publication. This monthly print publication features high-quality food news, thoughtful editorial, exhaustive food-related directories, upcoming food events, profiles of the people creating and shaping the Island’s food landscape, and much more.
Author Carol Horne wrote:
“When oysters become works of art, not just on your plate. Most of us have probably never paused long enough during an oyster scoff to examine the scaly shells that protect those delicious salty morsels. Rough, greenish, sandy, or maybe even a bit slimy, the oyster shell is certainly not known for its aesthetic appeal. And yet local graphic designer and photographer Debbie Brady has succeeded in finding a world of abstract beauty in PEI oyster shells.
Using macro (in essence extreme closeup) photography she has uncovered waves of sinuous pattern, rich and unexpected colour—who would have imagined gorgeous blues are hidden within the colours and crevices of some . . .” READ ARTICLE
Interviewed on Oyster Ninja Podcast -watch the interview
National Ranked Oyster Shucker, Gardner Douglas, dives head first into the oyster world and beyond. From the Oyster Ninja Podcast and visually teaching you how to shuck Gardner can enlighten your world. The show has anything to do with seafood.
Gardner Douglas began:
“Today I sit down with Debbie Brady creator of oyster fine art. Her original fine art is taking the industry over and really leaves you breathless. One piece of Oyster Art can require over 70 shots with her macro lens camera. Join us on her oyster journey and how she made it doing something she loves. . . WATCH THE INTERVIEW
Having enjoyed a variety of photographic genres macro photography is the one that has totally captivated me. This passion for seeing small things up close is articulated by F.B. Meyer’s quote “There are as many worlds of wonder which are too minute for our vision as there are too great for our understanding.”
I love the challenge of exploring and photographing “near space” then creating art that shares and celebrates it. Oyster Art™ is my collection of photographic abstracts discovered in tiny areas of an oyster shell. They invite you into a miniature world you may otherwise never have the opportunity to explore. When the image is able to spark the viewer’s curiosity and imagination—then—I can hardly wait to discover nature’s next miniature painting.
Photography energizes me with its infinite number of possibilities and technical challenges. I don’t foresee an end to the exciting stories I can capture in all their glorious detail!
My abstract photographic art uses elements of colour, light, patterns, movements and space to create an untraditional representation of subjects. The image often isolates a fragment of a scene in order to remove its inherent context. I’ve used close-up and macro photography to create Oyster Art: my fine art abstract collection of PEI oyster shells. Oyster shells are one of many subjects that host a world of miniature details that are easily, and often, overlooked. I love the challenge of exploring and photographing “near space” then creating art that shares and celebrates it. When people look at the art and learn the story behind each piece they react as if they’ve been let in on a secret.
My current resume includes my education, exhibitions and galleries, photography presentations and media, awards, experience and associations. READ PDF