A fun and creative approach to great portrait photography.
She’s refined her craft, grown her experience and the playful creativity is an eyeful of fun. Heather is masterful in the studio with lighting and at getting the most fun out of her subjects. Fun is good.
We interviewed Heather to find out a little more about her and what she does best.
Hi Heather, thanks for taking this time to share your photography with us. Tell us about yourself and what got you started.
I majored in photography at Middle Tennessee State University, but started college as a vocal performance major with dreams of being a famous opera singer. I soon discovered that saying you want to be a famous opera singer is like saying you want to be a dinosaur when you grow up. Photography was the best decision I ever made. I felt at home when I first picked up my camera. I have a lot of other weird hobbies: Singing, belly dancing, and sword fighting. Sometimes in front of an audience, so I’m a unique kind of crazy. Photography is my one true love and what I always “come home to”, if you know what I mean.
Do you have any tips for directing your subjects to get the kind of shots you’re looking for?
I’ve worked a lot in portraiture with a company and on my own. I’m a HUGE people person. The goal is to get to know my subject through photography. I like to be organically and emotionally connected during a shoot and though I’ve been told I’m great at directing, I’ll only tweak a little when needed. I treat direction like regular conversation, letting ideas flow. My best shots were made when we all just goofed off and tried ridiculous things. I have a lot of creative, amazingly talented friends, so that helps too.
When it comes to lighting, in your more recent work, are you using studio lighting? What works for you?
Oh god yes, I use studio lighting. In college, studio lighting was my favorite class. I still use equipment from the University a lot of the time because they have some amazing stuff. I like keeping it simple with lighting setups because I believe the simpler, the better. The equipment I generally use is Profoto, and my favorite thing ever in the whole world is the Octolight. It’s magical, I swear.
What about outdoor / natural lighting? What’s your take on that?
I let natural light speak to me. Sometimes the cosmos is creating perfect lighting conditions just for me, or in some cases, that I’m challenged to find it myself. Am I getting a little too philosophical? I promise I’m not actually insane, only slightly. I like to take my time outdoors as well with bracketing exposures, trying different angles and seeing what creates the most striking effects. I obsess a little, both behind the camera and in post-process. I play around in Photoshop like it’s a video game, because it’s fun.
What’s your preferred portrait lens(es) and/or range of focal length(s)?
A 50mm f/1.8 lens is just about the most versatile thing in the whole entire world for me. It got me through college. I have a Sigma 55-200mm lens, but I really don’t use it as often. The 18-55mm kit lens that came with my Nikon really isn’t that bad and has gotten me through. I’d like to venture into a super nice wide-angle lens. I’m not exactly rolling in the Benjamins and these things take time. I’ve learned to work with what I have. It’s not the equipment you have that makes you a great photographer, it’s what you’re able to create with what you have that matters.
When it comes to camera functions and features, what are the settings you pay most attention to?
The basics. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO. If you can control them with a basic knowledge of the zone system, then it almost doesn’t matter what kind of fancy specs your camera has, in my opinion. It all comes down to understanding light, how your camera captures light and how you can manipulate it. If you can do that – shazam, great photographs! The only other thing I care about, is being able to quickly change/navigate those settings on my camera.
Anything new you want to explore?
I’ve really been exploring the world of multiplicity and I want to take those concepts outside the studio to expand my portfolio. And I really wanna experiment with HDR photography, a desire which actually started after I read your blog and researched more about the possibilities. I started my obsession with multiplicity the same way. After I started blogging, I learned a lot and have found much inspiration while writing, making me better at my craft everyday. I’ve been humbled by those that come to my blog looking for expertise, because it’s such a source of growth for me too!
Ultimately, I just hope to keep pushing myself past what I thought I could do and eventually, take over the world.
Heather, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. We’ll be watching you and your work in the years to come. Thank you for sharing!
Heather Clemons inspires other budding photographers with her approach in creating imagery that entertains and draws you in.
Check out Heather’s blog and her photostream at heatherclemons.com.
MAMA supports the creative minds of the planet earth. If you come across something interesting and out of the ordinary, or just something that makes you smile, we’d like to know about it.
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