Thumbnail image from Pixabay
By Kathy A. Megyeri, images from artist
Most of us take photographs of our families and friends to make scrapbooks or to share on Facebook. But few of us excel in photography as much as Paulette Morant of Norfolk, VA. Paulette’s photographs have been made into stationery, and her Florida pictures are breathtaking. Paulette has a 94-yar-old uncle in Palm Coast and cousins in Jacksonville, so she knows our state well. But Paulette didn’t set out to be a photographer.
Educated at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, she was a member of the hockey team, manager of the women’s basketball team and one of the first classical music radio announcers of WTJU-FA. Her other interests are music, travel, baseball and Spanish. Paulette is the wife of legal scholar, law professor and former dean of the George Washington Law School. Paulette, knowing that I value her photographic skills, agreed to allow me to interview her in hopes that readers of Lifestyles After 50 might learn a few of her tips since so many Floridians also share her love of photography.
Questions, tips and advice in photography
When did you begin to take photography seriously and what propelled your interest in it?
My love of photography began with my father. As a child, I enjoyed watching him use his Kodak model, the kind that you hold to your mid-section instead of up to your eyes. You look down in order to focus and to take the photo. I was fascinated that he had to close the curtains and shades in order to load the film and that the exposure numbers had to line up precisely. He taught me how to use the camera and allowed me to take photos of my neighborhood friends as long as I stayed in front of our house. His enthusiasm inspired me as a casual photographer through high school, college and beyond.
What equipment do you regularly use?
For the past four years, I have used my iPhone almost exclusively. The quality and depth of the photos is amazing. It lends itself to convenience and spontaneity, which I appreciate. I also have a Canon EOS Rebel single lens reflex camera. I plan to take an online class in order to reconnect with the camera, the tripod and the various modes.
What tips do you have for us hobbyists that might help our own works improve?
“Stop and smell the roses.” It’s more than a cliché. Look at a floral scene, take note of what you’d like to emphasize; for example, the entire bush or an individual bloom or petal. If uncertain, try as many perspectives as you wish. Experiment and delete as desired.
“Wait for it.” While anticipating the moment in which a wave breaks or a seagull takes flight, patience truly pays off. Take photos of the same flower, beachscape or building at four different times of day. Enjoy comparing the results. Experiment with black and white as well.
What is it about your work that captures serenity, peace and reverence for nature that viewers find so exciting?
Thank you for perceiving serenity and peace in my creative projects. I feel those emotions as I take photos and as I make photo note cards. Both activities are relaxing and remind me of the big picture, this beautiful, fragile, complex world in which we live.
What words of encouragement or advice would you give to the hobbyist to improve his own photographic skills?
It’s perfectly fine to try angles and modes. Slow down a bit before taking the shot. Composition adds to the message. Center? Off center? It’s up to you as photographer because it’s your story.
What is your own favorite picture and why this specific work?
That’s a difficult choice to make. I have several favorites. I believe that my ultimate favorite is one that I entitled, “Washington, D.C. Angles,” a photo of the Washington Monument juxtaposed with the northwestern edges of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Several triangles are evident from the viewer’s perspective.
What has photography brought to your life? What has it given you that you might otherwise not have had?
Photography has boosted my confidence in approaching people and in remembering special details about people and places. It has maximized my outreach, especially to those who might not expect to hear from me. It’s a wonderful way to make and to maintain relationships.
Paulette can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org