An Interview with Missy Herr
Missy Herr sat down with us to discuss her love of shooting nature scenes, her teenage daughter, and anything else that happens to inspire her. Read on to learn more about Missy!!
Throughout your amazing portfolio, I've seen some examples of portrait photography. Is that something you are interested in?
Not at this time. I don't see myself doing that. There are so many great portrait photographers in the Lancaster area. I think the fun would be taken out of it for me if it was a job.
That said, I don’t know what the future may hold! I’ve been asked to do some prom stuff.
Do you enjoy that style of photography?
Not as much, I really enjoy nature photography. There’s no stress if you don’t get the shot, and with nature, it just poses itself.
It's difficult to get people into a proper pose.
Kids are especially hard. I’ve played around trying to get photos of my neighbor’s granddaughters when they visit her (with permission of course).
I like to photograph candid, not having them pose or smile, but just them playing. Like photos of their bare feet running through the yard, or their hands offering me flowers - not necessarily facial portraits.
How does that come about?
I initially took some photos of this neighbor’s granddaughter one day while she and I were chatting, and I showed her what I’d captured. She told me I was welcome any time to come over and photograph them. She loved what I took.
You don't call yourself a photographer, but obviously you take a lot of pictures. How did this all start?
I've always enjoyed taking pictures, but I don’t think I had the eye I’ve developed now. I got a Canon Powershot SX 500. I wanted to upgrade a little bit from a simple point-and-shoot, to one where I could have a little more control over different settings. It took pretty good pictures. That was in 2014 that I got that camera. That was the first more serious camera that I owned, and I had asked a few photographer friends for a recommendation on a good point-and-shoot with zoom.
I wanted something a little bit better, because the camera I had took grainy pictures. I’d also outgrown the capabilities of my old point-and-shoot.
What kind of photos were you shooting before you got the Canon camera?
Nature. If we were on vacation, just family vacation shots. Around the time of May/June of last year…my husband likes to go for drives, so we were out driving around about the time of golden hour. I’d had the SX500 camera for a couple of months. The sun was setting, and there was a horse in a pasture.
I looked at it and thought, “That would be a really cool shot!” That was the first one I took that really made me think, "This is cool. I could do this." I was looking for different angles and different perspectives…trying to catch the right light.
You came onto the scene like a fire. Your pictures were so amazing right away. Boom. Who is this? It's around this time when you're finding the shot, and it spurred a different level of creativity?
It did. Before I wasn’t taking the photo with my eyes before taking it with my camera. That was a huge change. I just wanted to take really good pictures, so I asked a lot, and read a lot about photography.
Were you already on Instagram?
I was, but I wasn't on too much before I started posting a lot of my pictures.
I know you were at the Strasburg photowalk. Had you done others?
No, that was my first one. I did want to do more, but scheduling is hard sometimes and it just doesn’t suit. That was the first one and I got to meet and see people from Instagram.
Are you from around here?
Yes, I grew up in New Providence, and I live in Quarryville.
So, you take this picture of the horse, discovering different details to look for. Then what happens?
I did notice a lot of people on Instagram, and different photos they would take, and wonder if my camera had the capabilities to capture photos like that. At the time, I knew nothing about ISO, aperture, or shutter speed, so I did a lot of Googling, YouTubing, and Pinteresting to try to figure that stuff out. I asked a lot of questions, too, from really great photographers. I actually have a photographer friend, who does portrait photography too, who was a huge help, and very patient with all my questions. But, a lot of it really is self-taught, and just fiddling around with settings to get the look I wanted. I’m still learning, and still have a lot to learn!
Are you still using the same camera?
Actually, my photographer friend gifted me the one I have now. It was beyond generous. It's a Canon EOS 30D with a 18-135 lens.
You said you had a 50mm first. How was that?
It wasn’t too bad. It's great for portraits, but not so much for nature.
How long ago did you get this new camera?
Fall of last year. I noticed a change in my photography as far as controlling more of the shot and quality.
Point-and-shoots take great pictures too, but this one lets me control a lot more.
Are you finding that your subjects change?
A little. I go back and forth from nature, to taking candid. It’s just whatever catches my eye at the time.
How does that work? Do you get in the car with a camera in your lap?
Sometimes. I really need to get better at just taking it with me at all times, because there have been so many times I’ve seen something to photograph and wished I’d had my camera. I really like to have it at family get-togethers.
Those are great times for candids. Any time we go for drives, or walks in parks, I generally have it with me.
I also have great neighbors who let me wander around their yards to photograph their pretty flower beds.
Which do you enjoy more for sharing your photos – Facebook or Instagram?
Instagram. I find it a more photography-friendly place than Facebook.
Do you use it as a consumer, like following through some of the tags like #LancasterGram?
I do that a little bit to try to get different ideas and inspiration. I like to see something that someone photographed and try something similar, but with a different angle, or a different perspective.
What kind of photography really gets you going? You do a lot of great stuff with your daughter and the candid stuff. What do you like?
It's back and forth right now, but I'd still say nature is my favorite. It's my place of calm and peace.
You say you like the variety. Is it that that gives you breaks from artistic blocks?
Yes. I like the flowers, but you can only take so many, and in fall and winter, you can only take so many of changing leaves and snow. So, I try to break it up, and that’s when I think up some ideas for my daughter to model for posed, or candid, shots…whatever pops in my head.
Tell me about your editing process.
The really old point-and-shoot, I would just take the picture and print it out at Rite Aid. On the newer point-and-shoot camera, I could change it to vivid, or sepia, or black and white. Then, I would load it onto my computer, then onto Facebook to save it on my phone to then get it onto Instagram. On Instagram, I would then use some of their edits. When I first started, I did more vivid, bolder pictures, but now I prefer more natural and soft.
Has your file management changed with the SLR?
I use the same process. To edit them now, I have Picasa, the free editing program, which is great for me. I don't like to change my photos too much. I will sometimes sharpen if needed, or bump up the saturation, but I really don’t like to change them too much. I’ll also sometimes edit a little more on an app on my phone called Afterlight.
When you first came onto the scene, it was super vivid. I'm guessing you were editing. Now I'm seeing a lot more realistic shots, just clean photography. That changed?
It has. I like vivid…bold sunsets, or storm clouds and such, but I’m more into simple, natural looking now. That’s how I’ve always been, but when I started, I thought the more bold and vivid, the better. Everyone has their own style, and that’s why I love photography, and seeing the art everyone creates.
Do you have any other artistic hobbies?
I don't. I'm a horrible drawer.
Are you the family documentarian that way? Are you always the one with the camera?
I am. My sister's starting, too. I gave her my Powershot, and I think she’s been really enjoying taking pictures with it.
We talked about your daughter being somewhat a reluctant model. How about your husband? How does he react to this hobby?
Yes, she can be at times if I don’t get it on the first shot. My husband, he's great. Very supportive…they both are! He’s the one who’ll remind me to bring my camera when we go for a drive, or to a park. And sometimes he'll point out different shots.
What other kind of photography are you still wanting to do? Is there anything on your bucket list?
Nothing in particular. I really want to keep working on my nature and candid shots. I’d like to have a 50mm on hand. I've had a few people ask about me taking some portraits for them.
Have you shot at all in raw?
No, I haven't ventured there yet.
Everyone has their own artistic style…
Yes, and that's what I love. The Lancaster Instagram community has been very encouraging.
Do you see yourself expanding your area? Do you drive around different areas to get different material? Do you ever find you want to come back to a spot?
I do that a lot. I feel I've kind of outgrown the Quarryville area. I say that, but then I always find something new. Or, something like "That would look cool in this such and such season." I don't venture too far.
Has your daughter shown any signs of picking up a camera?
Not sure about a real camera, but she sure likes taking selfies on her iPod right now! You know, the teenage years.
I feel like there are a lot of abandoned structures in Quarryville. Does that ever appeal to you?
Not too much. I do admire others that capture that style.
Do you ever print anything to put up in your house?
I don't. I've had a couple people request prints though. I just sent two 12 x 18’s to the Philly area for a friend.
You said you want to print off all your pics and put them into a photo album?
That's probably unrealistic. I really need to sort through them first. I need to get them off of my computer. They're all just a lot of loose jpegs in folders right now.
Is there anything that you have coming up in the future relating to photography? What can we expect?
We've done family vacations down in Chincoteague, Virginia, so this year will be my first time with the new camera. Hopefully, I’ll get some sunrises and sunsets…and maybe some ponies. Who knows, maybe some candids thrown in there too. I'm excited for that!