Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Griffin-based photographer, Melissa Holcomb, said she was surprised last fall when she was announced as the winner of Arts Clayton's juried photography competition.
Holcomb, 32, who grew up in Riverdale, has always loved photography, because she loves "capturing memories," but taking pictures is not the only thing she does in life. She is a registered nurse at Southern Regional Medical Center, in Riverdale.
Still, she has carved out enough time to develop into a professional photographer, using her Canon EOS 7D camera to specialize in different types of portrait photography. One of her photographs, showing a female kneeling on a dock, by a lake, won the top prize in Arts Clayton's competition last year.
That led to her getting her own exhibit, which is on display this month at the gallery, at 136 South Main Street, in Jonesboro.
"I was in shock," Holcomb said. "Everybody keeps telling me, 'You're so great, you deserve it, you deserve it,' and I guess I'm humble in that way. It was shocking to me that I won. It's still shocking to me that I have this exhibit, because I won."
Holcomb's style ranges from the traditional, with small children looking directly into a camera, to more non-traditional styles, including focusing on one of a subject's eyes (framed by the subject's fingers); using stark, contrasting colors, and having subjects look down, or lean into the camera.
Much of her photography on display at Arts Clayton is portrait photography, which ranges form studio portraits, to environmental portraits done outside her studio in a variety of places, ranging from Nash Farm Battlefield, in Henry County, to other locations around Atlanta.
"I like going all over the place to shoot, rather than staying in the studio," she said.
Arts Clayton Gallery Assistant Courtney Forte, herself a photographer, said Holcomb brings something "new and creative" with her photographs. "She captures people's personalities," she said. "I love her lighting. Her lighting is really creative and the print quality is really good. Those are all basic things, but they are really important."
Holcomb said she shoots on a "Raw" setting that allows the camera to include as much actual image "information" in the picture as possible.
She also said she uses digital photography, post-processing programs Photoshop and Lightroom, but she prefers to do most of her work "in camera." That means she works the settings in her camera, including light metering, shutter speed and aperture size, so that it comes out as close to what she wants, as she can get.
"The less you can do [in post-processing], the better," she said.
Arts Clayton Executive Director Linda Summerlin said one of the things that she likes about Holcomb's photography is that "it says something, and it makes you think ... about all the great things in life."