Behind the Lens Interview With the Pros: Kathy Adams Clark
Each month, we sit down with one of our favorite photographers for a snapshot interview of the person behind the lens. With Kathy Adams Clark, we weren’t getting to know a just a photographer, but a photographer, teacher, birding excursion tour guide and owner of a stock photography company, KAC Productions, representing roughly 15 photographers.
How did you come to be a nature photographer?
I wanted to be a nature photographer when I was a small child. I grew up on Elsa the Lion and other nature programs on television. I started taking photos when I was in elementary school. Yet I went to college, studied management and came out of college with a degree in human resources. During the 1980s, my photos were published in various magazines and used in advertising campaigns. In 1992, I talked with my husband about trying to make a living as a full-time nature photographer. He said I could do anything I wanted as long as I brought in the same income as I did in my corporate job. I started the company and left my career in human resources three years later. I’ve made my living since then through photography, marketing the work of other photographers through my stock agency, teaching photography and leading photo tours and workshops.
As someone who teaches photography, what would you say is the most important camera feature or piece of equipment?
The light meter in a camera is an amazing device. Without it, we’d all be limited in our ability to get a good exposure. I don’t see how photographers got a well-exposed image before the 1950s. It took a lot of skill. Students in my Basic Photography class learn about the three or four light meters in their digital camera and how to use it. I also like high-speed bursts to capture action shots. I love to hear the shutter go off in rapid succession like a machine gun. It’s exciting!
Through your company, KAC Productions, you host photo tours in locations around the world. If you had to pick just one place to photograph birds, where would you go?
If I had to pick one place to photograph birds it would be Costa Rica. Over many visits to Costa Rica with the same bird guide, I’ve developed a route loaded with bird photography opportunities. We visit hummingbird and fruit feeders, gardens, and natural areas. There are opportunities to photograph 15-20 species of hummingbirds at feeders and at flowers. Colorful tanagers visit fruit feeders. Toucans, motmots, and trogans are common in the forests. Along the coast we have an opportunity to photograph parrots, wading birds, magnificent frigatebirds, osprey, gulls and raptors. Costa Rica also has easy terrain and safe drinking water. Those things combined make it a bird photographer’s paradise.
What does photography give back to you?
There’s a real sense of accomplishment when I take a good photo. I get an incredible sense of pride. Then I love to show my images to others through programs, publications or teaching. I get a thrill out of teaching people about nature and showing them the beautiful creatures and sites on this earth. Sharing my images with others is a reward for all the hard work that goes into getting an image.
Do you have one solid piece of advice for aspiring photographers?
The best photos come from subject you know and love. Birds are easy for me to photograph because I’ve been a birdwatcher for thirty years. The same goes for butterflies and flowers.