“Creativity is about the craft of photography. I think of it this way — It’s not the lens, it’s the lensmanship.”
Kevin Ames is a lifelong commercial photographer in love with the craft of photography and lighting masterfully.
Master of light
Kevin is fascinated with light and how it works. “When God said, ‘Let there be light,’ She got it right from the beginning,” he says. “Light is always the same. It works the same way in every situation … always.”
He was a technical representative for Mamiya in 1980. The company sponsored a series of lectures by renowned lighting expert Dean Collins. After setting up each appearance, Kevin stayed for every presentation. This formed the foundation for his mastery of lighting.
A recession hit the country in 1982. Mamiya’s parent company in the U.S. went bankrupt. Kevin was a district manager by then. When he found himself unemployed, he opened Ames Photographic Illustration which later became Kevin Ames Photography. The business prospered in the same location for 35 years.
One of Kevin’s first clients was Portman Properties headed by architect and shaper of Atlanta, John Portman. His signature building in Atlanta was the round Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. When it opened in 1976, the “Westin” was the tallest hotel in the world.
Kevin Ames was commissioned to create a singular image of the building. The theme was, “There’s only one (opening photo, top row, first image.)”
The Belgian national airline was the first to offer international flights to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Kevin Ames became the airline’s official photographer.
He went to Belgium several times making destination photography to promote tourism. He produced multi-projector slide shows to bring U.S. citizens a taste of Belgium.
One day Kevin’s phone rang. It was his airline client asking for an 8′ x 10′ color print of the Grand Place in Brussels for a trade show.
“Send me the transparency and I’ll get it made,” Kevin said. His client replied, “No. You misunderstand, come to the office and pick up your plane tickets so you can take the picture for us.”
While photographing the Grand Place, he received a commission to photograph the Royal Windsor Hotel where he was staying.
Early in the 1990s, Kevin Ames got involved with the digital side of photography. He attended an introductory seminar in Atlanta presented by his friend and mentor, Dean Collins. The door prize was a copy of Adobe Photoshop 2.0. Kevin won the raffle.
At the end of 1993, Kevin Ames, Eddie Tapp and graphic designer Linda Adams Wellin, were commissioned to create a large, poster calendar for Scientific Atlanta that showed all of the products and services the company offered.
“It was a massive project for that time,” Kevin said. “Our computer was an Apple Quadra 700 with 72 megabytes of RAM which was a lot back then. The file was so big, we had to borrow a $1,500 one gigabyte external hard drive to take the file to the printer.”
The proceeds from the Scientific Atlanta project paid for the computer and a 4 by 5-inch digital scanner. Kevin Ames was a digital photographer. He shot film, scanned it and finished projects in Photoshop. Files were delivered to clients on Syquest disc drives.
In 2001, Kodak dropped the price of its 6.1-megapixel digital camera from $28,000 to $8,000. Kevin Ames got one to review on a safari in Kenya and Tanzania.
“I took my Nikon F5 film camera and the Kodak 760, a digital F5 along with solar panels to charge the batteries,” he said. “I planned to shoot both film and digital to be safe. The first day, I realized I was missing pictures while switching from one camera to the other. That’s when I committed to shooting the entire trip digitally.”
At the end of the trip, he had made over 4000 photos and filled up the 20 GB hard drive on his G-3 Apple laptop. “The saddest part,” Kevin remembers, “was trashing my music library to make room for photos.”
Kevin Ames began writing a monthly column for Photoshop User magazine. He penned his first book, Adobe Photoshop CS: The Art of Photographing Women (2003.) He followed up by writing three more books on Photoshop and photography including one of the first full-color Dummies books.
Kevin Ames helped develop the digital photography curriculum for the Creative Circus an Atlanta advertising school with a worldwide reputation.
“The person directly responsible for bringing the new digital realities to the [Creative Circus] Image program was Kevin Ames,” wrote Greg Strelecki the department chair.
Kevin taught digital photography, Photoshop and lighting at the Circus part-time for 17 years.
Kevin Ames continues to photograph for clients and for himself. He carries his camera, currently a Canon R5, with him everywhere he goes. When asked why he always has a camera, he quotes Jay Maisel, “Always carry a camera, it’s tough to shoot a picture without one.”
Sources: Kevin Ames
Read more stories about inspiration photographers in On Photography.
Leave a Reply