There are those who enjoy putting thoughts into words and there are others who prefer expressing thoughts in a visual form. Corinne Adams, a well-known local photographer, has been recording her life and the lives of those around her on camera for years, and she truly believes in its empowering effect.
“Photography is not about camera skills and technicalities,” says Adams. “Instead it’s about collaborating with the subject on the other side of the lens to say something powerful about them or it. Together, you find inspiration to tell a profound story.”
Adams shares some tips that can help anyone enjoy the practice of photography. All you'll need is a camera (auto-setting is a must, no flash necessary). When it comes to capturing glimpses of life with a camera, Adams says the best camera is the one you have with you.
“It could be your cell phone camera or an expensive photo lens. It really doesn’t matter. Feeling the moment fully is the biggest gift of all.”
Picking a subject
Pick a word or characteristic that describes you. It should be something that holds meaning, such as strong, energetic, happy, fun, outgoing, etc. Then explore ways to express those words without using words.
“Portrait photography is a great way to get started. A portrait does not have to be a face. You might photograph a body part or even the back of someone's head. Hands, fingers, feet, and eyes all make great portraits. You can even make portraits of things you hold dear. It can be a way of honoring an object that reflects your personality,” says Adams.
Background is very important. Make your subject the focal point and avoid incorporating a background and a foreground that hold equal importance in the picture. Pay special attention to any sticks or poles in the background. You do not want them to appear as if they are growing out of your subject.
“Outdoors, I often like to blur the background. This ensures that my subject is the primary subject,” says Adams.
Pay attention to the lighting. If you are in bright sun, there will be shadows on a face. The best light is consistent, soft lighting, like that of an overcast day. If you are taking a picture at home, soft, shaded light coming through a window is ideal. Ask your subject to lean against the window frame and peer out the window. Allow the light to filter onto the front of your subject’s face.
Avoid using a flash when taking photos indoors. This makes your subject appear flat and unappealing. A flash can be a good idea on a bright sunny beach or in the snow. In these cases, the flash will help eliminate excessive shadows.
If you are taking a large group photo, do not line your subjects up in a row. Have some people step forward, some back, some kneeling and some squatting. Also, create a curved effect rather than a line. Encourage the group to physically connect with one another.
“Feel free to direct your subjects. Have them move or shift in a way that expresses more feeling and emotion,” adds Adams.
Photography is a great way to process items you are ready to let go of physically, but want to hold onto emotionally. It can be an old hat, scarf, pair of shoes, book, etc. Ask yourself, “What is the essence of this thing?” Take a picture of that item and even write a few words down about what it means to you. Touch it, describe it and honor it. Then let it go.
Adams suggests a self-assignment: Take 100 different pictures of the same subject.
“Take an ordinary object like a pair of scissors or a salt shaker, and stretch your imagination. Think of different ways you can photograph this item: up close, far away, in action. This exercise allows you to open up your creative side and push your imagination and photography skills to surprisingly new heights,” she says.
Learn more creative ways to express yourself.