Hannah Russell is a Marketing Assistant at Lane College and freelance photographer in Jackson, focusing her creative efforts primarily in portrait and studio photography. As a recent graduate of Union University’s art program, she is continually discovering how to transform the everyday person into the most interesting of subjects through her attention to composition and form.
“Photography for me is kind of like an adventure. It’s a very curious and exploratory activity; a search for the best compositions.” During last month’s A.M. Creative meet-up, Jackson-sider Hannah Russell gave listeners a brief exposition on the aims, both generally and personally speaking, of professional photography.
Before talking about her own creative process and how it has matured over her young career, Russell cheerfully introduced a number of focuses within the field of photography before honing in on her domain of choice: studio photography. A cycling slideshow filled with polished photos covered a spectrum of subjects ranging from local students to professional dancers, all of which captured her common threads of evoking energy and emotion through smart form. Russell spoke adamantly of the precision demanded in such a control and detail-oriented studio setting, noting that because of it her eye for light and basic human poses has transformed in the few years that she has been making her own work.
While one might rightly think that an environment that purposefully limits the variables in capturing the perfect shot would be limiting to creativity, the photographer said nothing could be further from the truth and detailed how her process has shifted over time as she’s learned that reality. “I used to just take pictures wherever the wind would lead, but now I like to have much more of a plan in order to make the most of my time and get the best image,” Hannah explained. “I study different poses and give outfit suggestions; I try to make the shoots fit the personality and style of the person I’m going to be photographing, so each shoot is tailored to every new individual.” As Russell continued to shuffle through selections from her portfolio, it was evident that her personal aesthetic and ingenuity matured as her understanding of the craft did the same.
Listeners were quick to engage with the work on display, asking Russell about what looked to capture through her photography. By the end of the discussion, she had offered more personal introspection that gave her work a new degree of gravity, something that anyone could appreciate. “It’s hard to put into words what I’m hoping to accomplish, and that’s why I wanted to show you these images as another way to do that,” she said. “But beauty and value in a person are a part of what I’m trying to communicate. To be able to show someone that they are extremely valuable and truly worth something is what I am trying to accomplish.”