6/11/2013 6:30:00 PM Summers Russell wins national award
Russellís photo was on display in Times Square in New York City. Courtesy photo.
With a degree in journalism, Sandy Summers Russell started taking pictures as part of a job. She did some writing, but gravitated toward what she really loved, photography. Now, she has been rewarded with recognition across the country, as the National Association of Professional Child Photographers named her its 2012 Child Photographer of the Year. Not only was she honored by the group, her photograph was also displayed on an electronic billboard in Times Square in New York City. "I wish I could go see it!" Russell said. Russell has served as a newspaper photographer in many states across the country, including Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado. She worked at the Yakima Herald Republic for six years before falling in love and moving to the area with her husband Shane, a farmer. She still does some editorial and commercial work but focuses mainly on portraits. She runs the business Summerland Photography, which she began in 2007. She has a studio space currently in Tri-Cities but will soon have this space in Othello. The name of her business is a play on her maiden name, Summers, as well as a nod to local summers, which are absolutely beautiful, she said. She has a lot of return customers. The girl in the photograph displayed in Times Square has been photographed each year since she was a newborn, right around her birthday. The transition from editorial news photography to portraits has been an interesting one. One of the main differences is the influence on the subject matter. For news, you have to stay out of the action, just taking photographs of whatever is going on. When you are a portrait photographer, you set up the shot. It's nice to still get those candid shots but you can also give some direction, she said. Her style has changed a lot since she began doing portrait photography, she said. You also see lighting much differently depending on what kind of picture you are looking to capture. Currently, about 80 percent of the work she does centers around portrait photography, mainly focusing on newborns, children and some weddings. She loves photographing children of all ages, she said, because she gets to capture something special, a seemingly enchanted moment in time. "Childhood is magical," she said. "Kids are full of innocence and honesty." Another difference is how your work is viewed. Newspaper photographs can be exciting to take, getting right into the action, but most of the time, the newspaper is forgotten when the next issue comes out. Portraits are kept forever, put up on walls or albums to be viewed again and again. Currently, Russell lives with her husband Shane and children Mason, 5, and Adelle, 2, in Othello.