Photographer Kathleen Elam creates dramatic and detailed portraits of hummingbirds. Please visit her website to see more of her work.
Spreading the joy, beauty and magic of hummingbirds is the intention of my photography. I have found through exhibiting my work that hummingbirds hold a deep meaning for so many people.
Almost everyone has a hummingbird story. I have heard stories of hummingbirds at funerals and weddings and I am moved by how much emotion these extremely tiny birds can create.
I have fed hummingbirds for many years and sometimes there will be over sixty hummingbirds at one time at my feeders. I love standing next to the feeders in order to feel the vibration of the wind from their wings.
I try to capture the birds so the every detail can be seen. It was a lengthy process learning how to photograph them so that the wings were “frozen.” They are exceptionally fast little creatures and I have thousands of photographs with no bird in them.
After months of frustration trying to photograph them in mid-air, I began attracting them with flowers, which made the process much easier. I typically use backdrops and control all of the light using programmable flashes. That is the only way to catch their wings in stop motion. It also helps to put sugar water in the flowers so that they linger just a little longer.
There is a synergy that occurs with the bird and the flower that brings a special energy to the photograph.
I take hundreds of pictures in the hopes of getting just one or two that I will share.
I catch them doing some amazing acrobatics. I bring the pictures into Photoshop to create a work of art that will attempt to do justice to the beauty of the hummingbird.
There are some people who don’t think that photographs should be manipulated in Photoshop, but even when photographers like Ansel Adams developed their pictures they used techniques to change colors and lighten and darken different areas of their photographs. I think being able to successfully create a beautiful photograph in Photoshop is an art unto itself. I continue to take online courses to become more proficient at it.
Hummingbirds only live in North or South America, but I can see that visitors from all over the world visit my website to enjoy their beauty. Many have contacted me because they are mesmerized over these tiny creatures and want to know more about them.
I so enjoy allowing people to see how beautiful these little flying jewels really are. My inspiration is evident as the hummingbird is one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. They gracefully live their lives in our midst and we are blessed. It is a privilege to have such magical, spiritual subjects for my photographs.