Interview: Angela Jones on Photography: the only way to capture a moment in time and freeze it forever

By Bidisha Bagchi

Photographer Angela M Jones

Angela M Jones, a Member of America’s Professional Photographer’s Association has had her work chosen to be featured in the students’ portfolio in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Her passion for photography has given her immense satisfaction in all her work. She spoke to WBRi about how a camera is just not the sole reason for a good photograph and about the scopes for a career in photography.

How did photography interest you?

A Photograph by Angela Jones

I have always had a passion for photography.  Perhaps it was because of all the photo albums my parents kept that gave me glimpses into their lives as children and young adults.  For me it was how the pictures told a story that drew me in.  Photography is the only way to capture a moment in time and freeze it forever--whether that moment is a couple’s first kiss as husband and wife, a child’s first steps, or a stunning sunset in an exotic location.

What is your specialization & what is your favorite subject?

I like to think I’ve been blessed with opportunities to dabble in many genres of photography, although recently I’ve focused more toward Wedding and Portrait photography, also considered to be one of the highest stress fields of photography.  I still do specialized art when requested, but I don’t actively pursue work in those fields.  That said, one of my favorite subjects to photograph would be the sun.  There is something magical about the sun, whether it is a sunrise, sunset or the way sunbeams dance off a cloud—that I find absolutely beautiful and can’t resist photographing for my own pleasure.

What do you think are the absolutely necessary things to have for being a successful photographer?

That really depends on your field of expertise, and what is considered successful.  For instance, one photographer may consider selling at a profitable level a success, while another may see success when their art is displayed in prominent locations or in print.  In general, there are probably three things that every photographer must have, and then grow from there.

1.  Knowledge

Know your camera and all its functions and use them accordingly.  Know your subject and its surroundings.  Know about lighting and composition.  Know your intended market.

2.  Creativity

It is what sets one photographer’s style apart from another.  Think outside of the box, find creative avenues for expression.

3.  Desire

In photography, you must be willing to learn and grow on a continual basis or risk falling behind. A photographer must have a desire to better themselves and their work.

What kind of camera do you use in your work?

Currently I am using a Canon 5D Mark II, along with a number of Canon L-Series lenses.  However, I should stress here that it is not the camera that makes the picture fantastic, it is the eye behind the camera.  There are a number of excellent starter cameras on the market that cost less and for the discerning eye can do just as well or better than someone carrying around a more expensive camera.  I have to laugh as I say this, but one of the worst things you can say to a photographer is “Wow, I bet that camera takes awesome pictures!”  A camera is only as good as the person operating it.

Do you think the current generation has a great scope in a career in photography?

That is a difficult question to answer.  With today’s smart phones boasting 8 mega-pixels or more, and the ability to get a decent digital camera at an inexpensive price, I’ve seen a lot of people popping up in the market as photographers.  But there is more to photography than being able to snap off a picture.  It is about knowing composition, exposure, and creativity to name a few.  Some people have a natural eye for creating a photo with impact, and some people must learn.  I will say that it is far easier to start a career in photography today than it was 20—or even 10 years ago, thanks to the ever-evolving technological advances and digital cameras becoming more affordable to the general public.

Do you think there are enough schools and institutes in the country that can give professional training to those who would be interested in a career in photography?

Once upon a time, the only way to get good training for those seeking a career in photography was to either live in a large city or know someone with an established business and reputation that would teach you the ropes.  Nowadays, the internet has revolutionized the photography business, bringing schools such as the Art Institute to your home with online classes.  Other associations, such as the Professional Photographer’s Association (PPA) offers training webinars to its members along with workshops in photography and business across the nation.  However, one of the best ways to refine one’s photographic skills is still the old-fashioned way:  work for someone who knows the field in return for knowledge.  That is hands-on learning at its best.