With the present passing by so quickly, it’s easy to let precious moments slip by.

One way to fully enjoy and appreciate events, places and loved ones is by taking pictures.

A photo acts as a bridge between the past and the future, having the power to bring memories and emotions.


Passion for pictures

Photographer Michelle Barnett, of Lynchburg, has had a passion for photography for years.

Her interest began as a hobby but evolved into a career.

While taking pictures is now her job, it offers her a chance to give back to the community and help people see the magnificence of nature and the beauty of individuals.  

“I have always liked taking pictures,” Barnett said. “But when I had my second child, I decided that I needed to be able to take better pictures of him, so I can have some memories to look back on.”

The more she used her camera, the more interested she became.   

“It bloomed from there,” Barnett said. “It started from taking pictures of my kids and then my family, my friends and their friends. And it became my career.”

To enhance her skills, she started learning about photography techniques and enrolled in several online classes.

Practice is what has helped her polish her skills, she said.


Capturing love

Barnett’s favorite type of photography is family photography.

“Wedding photography is definitely my passion,” Barnett said. “I love weddings and engagements – anything to do with couples in love.”

Barnett also enjoys capturing moments of children playing and interacting. Those photos reveal the children’s personalities and feelings.

“I like taking pictures of kids,” she said.


Artistic expression

Photography gives Barnett an outlet for her creative talent and helps her tell stories through images.  

“Artistic expression is what is satisfying for me,” Barnett said. “I always danced growing up, and when you get older, there are not a lot of opportunities to do that. So I get to express myself artistically through photography.”


Giving back

Barnett enjoys donating time for locals in need and worthy initiatives.

One of the organizations she supports is Blue Monarch, which provides residential services for women with children suffering abuse. 

“I volunteer at Blue Monarch,” she explained. “I try to help them. I go to their facility and take photos for them four or five times a year; it depends on what they need for that year.”

She also supports local individuals going through rough times.

“I do a lot of sessions for families in need,” she said.

Barnett sometimes attends charity events and takes pictures free of charge.

“When I started photography as a business, one of the things I didn’t want to lose is being able to give,” she said. “Giving gives me satisfaction.

“If I can’t continue to give and do things for people in need, there is no point of doing this. It’s not about money for me; it helps pay my bills, but I also want to help other people with it.”


Explore local areas

Frazier McEwen Park offers a beautiful environment for those who want to enjoy nature and take photos.

Barnett also recommends taking advantage of the beautiful scenery at Tims Ford State Park and Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park.

“Any local park is great,” she said. “I also do pictures on the square of Tullahoma and Lynchburg. It’s really pretty. It’s really good if the sun is high because you have a lot of shade.”


Capturing moments

The essence of photography is capturing interaction and showing the spirit of a person through revealing facial expressions.

“Look for moments,” Barnett said. “Capture moments.”

Avoid asking people to pose, she added.

“When I am taking pictures of my family, they always try to smile at me, but I tell them to let me capture the moment and not worry where I am at,” she said.

“Try to get the real moments as opposed to looking at the camera and smiling. Try to get moments of kids interacting with grandparents, aunts and uncles. That’s what the holidays are about. It’s about those moments as opposed to everybody standing perfectly in a line and smiling.”


Earning recognition

Barnett has won numerous awards.

“I enter a Shoot & Share contest every year,” she said.

Last year, 413,000 photos were submitted from 160 countries, according to www.shootandshare.com.

“I came in 54th for the state, and I have had numerous other photos in the top 100,” she said.

To learn more about Barnett, visit www.michellebarnettphoto.com.

Tips for you to become a better photographer

*Get the right light


Lighting is essential.  It’s important to be mindful of your light source and how shadows can impact the shot. Also, know when to use the flash.

Use flash photography when it’s dark, at night or indoors, when there isn’t enough natural or ambient light.

Also use a flash to eliminate shadows from your photo. By adding in the extra light source you can minimize shadows by filling them in. Place the flash opposite the light source causing the shadows to achieve this.

Also try using flash and a slow shutter speed when photographing a moving subject. Adding a little flash when the light is dull can bring a photo to life. On cloudy days, before sunrise, or after sunset, the light can be very flat and strong backlight can be challenging. Balancing flash with backlighting will diminish the dull look due to strong light behind a subject.


The perfect setup


The basic premise of the rule of thirds is to divide your camera’s frame into thirds and plant key objects along these lines to make the composition work better – everything doesn’t have to be dead center of your picture.

Also, remember to keep an eye on the edges of your frame to ensure the person you're photographing hasn't had any of their body parts cut off by it.

Simplifying the composition may help, as well. Having too much going on in your frame can make it hard to focus.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.