We are pleased to share with you the following conversation with Robin Layton, ViewBug's guest judge and ambassador for Nikon USA.  Robin Layton is having a solo show with her series "hoop".

Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition with Seattle-based photographer Robin Layton. Layton is an award-winning photojournalist whose career has taken her across the country and into the lives of America's richest and poorest citizens. She has photographed personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Shaquille O'Neal, and has also focused her lens on runaway teens in the streets of downtown Seattle. Layton has been recognized for the grace and humanity that her photographs capture: the unexpected smiles and moments of pure tenderness that often pass too quickly to notice.

Her series, "hoop," is a collection of photographs of basketball hoops from across America. Layton combined her experience in portraiture, sports, and street photography to create these stunningly composed images. Each hoop tells viewers a story its location,its wear and tear, its history, and the shadows and angle of the light passing through it- all these small details come together and give us a larger story about basketball in America.

1. When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from them?
I would love for them to feel the energy of my photos. I like to show that you can see things differently and not be so literal about things. The biggest compliment for me is when people tell me they feel emotion when looking at my photographs.

2. What is it that you love about photography?
Everything! That it allows to express yourself and share with the world “your eye.” It’s so wonderful that we all “see” differently.

3. What has photography done for you?
It would take forever to answer this question, but in short: It’s allowed me to see life differently. To notice the little things, the small details, and as a photojournalist, allowed me to capture moments in life as they happen. It’s taken me all over the world and given me experiences people only dream of. Now I’m focusing on my fine art and it’s allowing me to express myself as an artist.

4. Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?

Definitely show the feeling. I always try and stay out of the way of whatever I’m photographing.

5. Why hoops? What is the story behind your book?.. and photos?
About 10 years ago, a friend and I used to send photos we took made into cards to each other as a way to keep in touch. One year, he sent me about 5 different cards he shot, all of different hoops. I told him for years that he should do a book, cards, calendars, etc, but he had no interest in doing so. I saw a hoop in the snow while out shooting another assignment and decided to take a photo of it. I was hooked. I immediately called him on the spot and asked if he still had no interest in doing a book and if so, would he mind if I did it. He said, “Go for it! Show me how it’s done!” I shot over 100,000 images and covered 35 states. It was extremely challenging to make every photo different, especially when the subject matter is basically a hoop and a backboard.

6. How did you achieve to have your own solo show?
By a lot of hard work! I eat, sleep and drink photography. I have for 30 years. It takes many years of hard work, perseverance, and believing in yourself. And of course, you have to have talent!
7. What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?
1. Find your passion. I believe that Passion = Purpose
2. Keep shooting. I can’t stress this enough. It takes YEARS to develop your craft.
3. Find your OWN style. Don’t be a copycat.

8. Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?

I can’t remember any negative feedback, but I can remember a guy in college telling me, “You might as well go home. This field (photography) is extremely competitive. You’ll never make it.” He never saw any of my work, he just decided to be negative. I turned that energy into fuel for myself and have never looked back. I wish I could see that guy today.

9. If you could share one lesson with up and coming photographers what would it be?

To not let anyone tell you that you can’t be a photographer. To say to yourself, “If that person over there can do it, then why can’t I?” FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!

10.  What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
I’ve been working on my third book about the 12th Man/Seahawks and plan on trying some new photography techniques with vintage cameras.

I’m also offering workshops in my studio now: www.robinlaytonworkshops.com