Lynette Burns is an accomplished local photographer who draws inspiration from the likes of Rembrandt and Renoir. FOCUS chats to her about her career and what makes a great photo.
What inspired you to make photography your profession?
My parents are talented musically, and the household was a creative place. As a child, I loved taking charge of the camera at family gatherings and as the eldest of five, there was always something going on. From an early stage, I held photos as something of value.
I grew up in the south of New Zealand, around some of the most picturesque areas in the world. After leaving school, I worked in a few areas that I didn’t feel passionate about, until I was introduced to Floristry. Working with flowers and people awakened my creative senses. After moving back to Australia in the early 1990s, I completed a Diploma of Graphic Design, where I gained an understanding in the principles of design and worked in advertising and product development. I took a break from professional life for a few years while my children were very young, but was never far from a camera – like most other new parents.
My photography skills were further developed by undertaking basic and intermediate levelled workshops that helped me understand my camera. I was hooked by the then new media, digital photography. I was given the opportunity to photograph a friend’s wedding and then another, which became a step into the realm of professional photographers.
I really loved the idea of doing something that I both love and capturing a person’s or couple’s emotions, that can re-tell a story for years to come. And that is how I want to be known – as a photographer who captures the moment that tells the story.
Today, I am inspired by some of Australia’s best photographers, who stretch me artistically and professionally and help me to continually perfect my craft. I am inspired by the love and emotion that is in each subject, client, couple, moment, kiss and smile. To me, photography has never been just a job, but an opportunity to enjoy and share something that excites me.
You shoot a variety of subjects, but what’s your favourite thing to photograph?
I love photographing people. It never ceases to amaze me how people say that they don’t like their photo taken and then after they see how great the photos look in the camera, they begin to relax and enjoy being photographed.
My passion is photographing women to capture and create special photos to celebrate their unique beauty or to surprise their partner. I like to use these sessions to bring out and capture their special qualities and their sensuality. Many women have such a low opinion of themselves, that they can’t believe it’s possible they’re beautiful. I capture their beauty and I am always thrilled when they say, “Wow, is that me?” when I show them the final result. I love to have women discover and express their sensual side, their ‘inner Diva’ and take themselves to another era or to live out a fantasy.
Completing and handing over a collection of amazing photos is my favourite thing of all; giving someone a piece of art to put on their wall is something special.
Describe your typical day …
Our busy household, four kids, husband and a cat, means I’m up early most mornings and hit the gym before the kids and their dad get out of bed. I get home for breakfast and see the kids off to school.
During a busy work time, I spend the morning processing images and designing albums, and I like to use the afternoons for meeting with clients, organising photo shoots and taking photos.
The kids come home from school, and it’s homework, dinner, bath and bed. After the kids are asleep, it’s back to the computer, backing up and processing the day’s photos and more design work.
I like to watch TV for a while to unwind and then head off to bed.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature and the masters of fine art like Rembrandt and Renoir and the way they used light in their paintings. I also respect the traditional and classically trained photographers and the fact that they didn’t have the benefit of digital cameras. These photographers really had to know what they were doing to maximise each photo opportunity without the benefit of Photoshop or instant digital gratification. I like to hang onto quotes of artists that have come before me, such as photography master Ansel Adams: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it,” and that of David Allio: “Photography is my job. The creation of beautiful fine art is my passion.”
My children inspire me daily; they make me want to be a better person and a better photographer. The beauty in people really inspires me too. We can get so caught up in rushing around in the busy lifestyle we live in, then I meet someone or see my children for who they are and I’m reminded that there is so much more to life.
Tell us about your business on the Coffs Coast.
The Coffs Coast is where I first started my photography business around 4 years ago, and weddings and portraits are my speciality. Currently, exploring the creative side of portraits is exciting. Discovering the personality within a person and revealing what the camera captures excites me. There are so many fabulous locations locally that I love to use. I like to personalise individual sessions for people in their homes.
Outside of photography, what are your hobbies and passions?
I love spending time with my husband and children and my church family. We love spending time at the beach when we can; there are so many wonderful ones to choose from. Exercise is becoming a big part of my life, I love reading when I have the time and catching a movie or DVD, going out for coffee or playing card games with our awesome friends.
How long have you lived on the Coffs Coast, and what do you love about the area?
We moved here nearly 6 years ago, and my husband and I have amazing friends here. I love the location and climate here on the Coffs Coast, being surrounded by the natural beauty of the coast, the rainforest and hills only minutes from the centre of town. The Coffs Coast has become home to my family and I, and is in many ways similar to my roots in the south island of New Zealand – which makes me feel at home. I love the Coffs Coast, and it’s a fabulous safe area to raise our family.
What are the fundamentals of photography that any beginner should learn before they pick up a camera?
Photography is ‘painting with light’. Use of light is fundamental, because correctly utilising light can make the difference between a snapshot and something exceptional.
Learn what your camera is actually capable of and gain the confidence to move away from the automatic functions. You don’t need an expensive camera to take a great photo. Photography is a form of art and a piece of art is open to interpretation, and the principles and elements of design really help you to understand how to frame and place a subject. Digital is so much fun; you can try again and again if you get it wrong and then play around with it. Place your subject in the light, then walk around it and find the best angle the light is coming from. Then take a few pictures and admire your work.