Our experiences help shape who we are. The things we do and the things we discover lead to further action that may arouse our curiosity in new activities.
For Heather Shimmin, many interests have led her into her work as a photographer. Originally studying design, but wanting to work in a commercially viable art without spending all day in front of a computer, Shimmin eventually changed gears and earned her degree in photography from Utah Valley State.
The range of activities Shimmin has participated in is broad. She enjoys traveling, playing guitar, cycling, hiking and spending time outdoors. In her youth, Shimmin only dabbled in photography. However, all of her activities have, as she said, “bled” into her life of photography. Her love of outdoors and travel fit in perfectly with her love of art, particularly the art of taking pictures. Among her favorite subjects are cityscapes, travel photography and shots that portray lifestyle, preferring these to pictures of nature.
Now, with seven years of photographic experience under her belt, Shimmin shoots weddings and family activities, and takes product shots and business portraits. Though Shimmin said she views weddings as a photography staple within the state of Utah, she said she would rather take on a new assignment. For example, shooting a Jewish Bar Mitzvah would be fun, she said.
Despite some distaste for sitting in front of a computer, the new age of digital photography has required that she still spend many hours on a computer in order to do her work.
One benefit of digital photography, as opposed to film photography, is saving money. Digital cameras make it possible to delete photos that don’t turn out exactly as planned, rather than spending money to develop the film of every picture taken. The digital pictures are also easy to manipulate and store on computers. This allows the photographer to delete the pictures from the camera’s memory stick, creating room for new pictures to be taken.
“I like photography because it’s neat, not like a painting that takes so long,” Shimmin said, adding she enjoys the ability to immediately see and correct her photography, thanks to digital cameras. “Perhaps it’s the ADD coming through,” she joked.
Digital photography, however, is not without its disadvantages, at least as far as the professionals are concerned. It is now easier for everyone to become a photographer, Shimmin said.
“If there’s a family event, someone might say ‘Uncle Joe has camera. He can do it,’ so it makes it harder for professionals to find work,” Shimmin said.
Shimmin has found that certain elements are crucial to make her photography more than just ordinary. It’s important to notice what is interesting about a scene and to make that subject the focus of a given shot. Sometimes it is necessary to get closer to a subject to ensure it is adequately emphasized. Additionally, the location of the photographer is important, as some subjects will require unusually high or low camera angles.
Creativity is a vital part of good photography, Shimmin said. Many amateurs take pictures of the same cliché objects. For example, although a sunset may look nice, it does not stand out in the world of photography because most people have already seen and taken similar pictures, she said. For good photo ideas, Shimmin suggested looking at others’ work in magazines.
Proper lighting is essential to highlight a subject in a photo. Overcast skies are ideal for taking portraits because they create a giant softbox. In other words, you will only see soft shadows around a subject if you take the picture while the weather is overcast.
Being patient, taking time and taking many shots are other ways photographers can get the image quality they desire.
Just remember: patience is a virtue—and so is lighting, when it comes to photography.