Finksburg photographer Tammy Thompson, who runs Passionate Portraits, was named Maryland Photographer of the Year at the Maryland Professional Photography Association's annual awards banquet, March 4. In addition to the award, she was also named Artist Photographer of the Year, and the first runner-up for Illustrative Photographer of the Year. The Carroll County Times caught up with Thompson to discuss the awards, photography and the artistic process.
Q: How long have you been interested in photography?
In 2004 I decided to get into photography. Back then, I was a wedding photographer on the weekends and I edited images during the week while staying home with my boys.
Q: How long have you been entering the MDPPA awards competition?
I became a member of the MDPPA in 2004. Shortly after joining, I entered my first print competition and my images took a second and third place. I was hooked. In 2006, I was on my way to a MDPPA class and was in a bad car accident. It took me three years to recover so I had to temporarily leave the MDPPA during that time. I came back in 2009 and I have been entering ever since. MDPPA holds three print competitions a year and I am allowed to enter up to 10 images per competition. So I enter 30 images each year. Then the MDPPA holds the annual convention and print competition. I enter the best of my 30 there.
Q: What forms of photography interest you the most?
My specialty is outdoor portraits. I enjoy making people look beautiful. I only photograph one client a night, starting two hours before sunset. This is the best light of the day. For my personal interest I love to challenge myself with digital manipulation. It is the ability to composite multiple images into one new image; creating a new piece of art that tells a story. I have over 20 years of digital editing experience, but I am always learning and finding ways to enhance my skills.
Q: What makes up the ideal photo?
For me it is impact. I want my images to move people. There are many elements I can control that can make an ordinary image one that has impact. I start with my ability to manipulate light to enhance the image. The overall composition on where the subject is placed in the image matters. We read left to right so my two favorite positions are the upper and lower thirds in an image. If people are in my image, then proper posing technique is a must in order to portray the person in the most flattering way. Lastly, excellent image editing ability puts the final touch on my images. I do all my own editing and I use my skills to enhance my images to further add to the overall impact of the image.
The MDPPA is a wonderful organization of talented photographers and I am grateful to be a part of it. It felt amazing to be cheered on by my fellow photography friends. I brought both my teenage boys to the awards dinner. Having them there to share in that moment was very special to me. Life can be very short and we never know how many more moments we will have with those we love. This was a moment they will always have of me.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment as a photographer?
That is tough as I have had several. Having my image "Memories" earn a perfect score of 100 really blew me away. Rarely does an image score a 100. That image went on to merit at the national level through the Professional Photographers of America.
Of course, winning Maryland Photographer of the year has really boosted my self-esteem as a photographer. These days there are so many photographers and because of that the photography field has become very competitive. Print competition and earning these awards is a way to distinguish myself as a professional and makes me stand out in this flooded market.
Q: What do you hope people take away from your work?
For my portrait clients I hope that the images I have captured of them and their loved ones will be treasured for a lifetime. When they take home wall portraits and hang them up on their walls to see every day, those portraits become unforgettable. For my artist work that I sell, I have similar hopes that the pieces they select to purchase and display on their walls have moved them and inspired them.
Q: What's the most difficult aspect of photography?
As a photographer and digital artist I am never good enough. There is always something I can learn to do better. It can be difficult to be content with where I am at any point. But that is good, because if I ever feel like I have arrived, then I have probably stopped growing.