Have you ever looked at a book of photography and wondered how the photographer could possibly have been in just the right place at the right time to get such a magnificent composition? Well, composition, color and light sources for photography have more in common with what we artists do who work in pencil, paint and other materials than you might think at first glance.
This week we are exploring some of the questions that came up as I visited with Amy Stoch (pronounced Stock) of Amy Art Shots at a street fair where we were both exhibiting recently in Champaign, IL. She told me that the interesting name for her business came about because her ex-husband called her photos "Amy Art Shots". A new concept was born!
First, I asked Amy how she became interested in photography. She said that as a youngster she took pictures of everything she saw. Her father was an amateur photographer and encouraged her interest. Of course, conventional film cameras were all that was available. So she learned the old fashioned way.
Recently however, Amy purchased a new Elf digital camera that she loves. She bubbled with excitement talking about all the great settings it has and how she can focus in on one color in a composition before she snaps the picture and the camera takes the picture in black and white while keeping that one color showing. Who knew?
When asked about her favorite subject, Amy said that she really did not have a favorite. She likes to experiment with all kinds of subjects from landscapes to plants, animals and insects! UGGGGH! I'm glad that is her. I can't handle insects myself! There was one insect portrait that is a closeup of some type of flying insect that has beautiful colors and she has matted it with a mat that has multi-colored lines that circle throughout the mat board. Very unusual and beautiful!
Eventually Amy admitted that her favorite subject is actually her "kitty babies", Lucy and Stella. They are two adorable babies who are natural hams. They make georgeous subjects and it's no wonder she enjoys photographing them.
Amy is fascinated with light and color and how they play off of each other to give depth and interest to her compositions. She noticed that a copper bowl in her living room was catching the light in an interesting way so she got her camera and began snapping shots.
She would like to begin taking casual, unposed photos of people, but does not like pictures that have been posed. She far prefers to always be on the lookout for an interesting subject to work with.
The idea, she says, is to "see differently from other people". Anyone who regularly reads my articles will know that I believe this is very important for any artist. To look at a flower and just see a collection of petals is not adequate for the artist OR serious photographer. Looking beyond the obvious is how great work is done. Amy truly understands how to "see" differently. She often uses closeups to emphasize the light and composition before her lens. And it comes across just right.
One of her goals is to work with the colors she sees and getting them to harmonize in a pleasing composition. She also appreciates the occasional times when a shot comes out grainy with an old fashioned look to it. But she does not digitally enhance her shots to get special effects, but prefers to continue exploring the possibilities until she comes upon just the perfect shot. And occasionally, she reverts back to her conventional film camera to capture just the right mood or feel.
She especially likes film for black and white shots which she uses mostly to set a mood. She has a knack for framing landscapes with a tree or branches in the foreground which changes the whole focus of the picture and can beautifully highlight clouds or a distant building.
Amy buys precut mats for her work in colors that harmonize with the subject. Some of her color choices could look stark or strange together but when she places them around the chosen composition, they achieve just the right look, bringing out just the right colors and emphasizing the play of the light across the subject.
Amy has been an actress and model for years and has worked under lights with professional photographers. She studied their use of lights and learned how to work with it for the best effects. This close attention to detail was evident in every picture she had on display. Now a teacher at Parkland College in Champaign, she works daily with the techniques and effects of film.
Photos by Amy are very reasonably priced, ranging from $5 to $20. Amy Art Shots website is currently under construction, but she can be reached at: Amy's Email. When the new site is up and ready, I will notify my mailing list subscribers by newsletter and will replace this email address with her web address.
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Thanks for reading and Happy Painting!