Staff Photographer Brittany Colt joined The Ansel Adams Gallery in 2018 after developing a passion for teaching photography. Her creative journey began by photographing landscapes, and then establishing her own photography company in 2012, while also working in the Film Industry in Portland, Oregon. Her love of the photographic medium has taken flight in Yosemite National Park, where she chases a strong desire to capture as many beautiful moments on this earth as possible. Brittany leads photography classes and private photography guiding at The Ansel Adams Gallery, and loves to challenge her students to expand their minds, not only technically, but creatively as well.
Join us in this interview with Brittany as we discover more of her personal journey in photography and artistic inspirations living in Yosemite National Park.
(AAG) Tell us about your background. When did you start creating?
Brittany: Creating has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up watching my father make beautiful canvas paintings and metal art creations while my mother made intricate designs with the crochet needle. My parents always encouraged my creativity and taught me various art forms. As early as I could remember, I was driven to create with my hands, and photography was the art form that pushed and molded me further as a visual artist.
(AAG) What was your first experience with a camera?
Brittany: My interest in photography took hold after a family vacation in the Olympic National Forest. I was taken aback by the high ridge mountains and the lush rainforests.
That following Christmas, my parents gave me their old Kodak Ektralite film camera. Because it required 110 film— and at that time it was outdated—we had to send the film out to a lab. For two weeks I would eagerly wait to see my results. It was always a treat to receive my photographs in the mail.
Surprisingly, the Kodak Ektralite camera presented me with a new vision of seeing grand land landscapes. Because I was born blind in one eye, I had never experienced the joy of full peripheral vision. As a child, this camera opened up a whole new exciting world of seeing landscapes from the perspective that many people take for granted.
(AAG) What inspires you? How has this inspiration shaped your work?
Brittany: I find inspiration from light. I let the light lead me to my subject. I carefully observe the light and watch the way it dances and caresses my subjects, showing me their infinite beauty. I become infatuated with my subjects’ energy and get shown a world that I couldn’t even imagine myself. Capturing my subjects is a very spiritual experience for me.
(AAG) Do you plan your photographic process, or do you let chance take a role?
Brittany: My creative process is only planned when I am making a highly technical night sky photographic composition. Otherwise, I go out making images purely for the enjoyment of being outside in nature. The wilderness allows me to relax and get away from the chaos of life. It is a place where I can discover hidden treasures from which to create my art. I go out hiking and photographing with no expectations. I let Nature show me my subjects and reveal its sublime energy.
(AAG) What is your favorite time to photograph in Yosemite and why?
Brittany: My favorite time to photograph Yosemite is during a storm. Growing up in the State of Washington, I learned to love hiking and photographing in rainy, wet weather. I honestly find storms to be quite thrilling. With storms comes an amazing opportunity to capture Yosemite in a very dramatic, moody atmosphere. The light is constantly changing which makes it super challenging and rewarding. I get exhilarated by the drama of the low hanging clouds, the soft light, and the craggy, cathedral cliffs. It is truly an amazing experience to be out in a storm and feel the power of Yosemite come alive.
(AAG) Since arriving in Yosemite, how do you feel that your work has evolved and grown?
Brittany: Yosemite is one of the most photographed National Parks in the U.S. As a visual artist, I strive to find and capture Yosemite’s lesser known features. This pushes my creativity and drives me to look at the small details. I find that my work has been evolving towards the exploration and attention to lines, texture, and shapes, as well as focusing more on the overall design of the image. Being blind in one eye has its advantages: it helps me to get rid of all the distractions and really simplify my imagery. This allows me to target elements that would have been lost in chaos. I have learned to compose how I feel in the moment and ask questions later.
(AAG) What do you enjoy the most about living in Yosemite National Park?
Brittany: Living in Yosemite National Park gives me the opportunity to witness the park in all seasons. This is extremely important to me. I love watching the evolution of Nature throughout different points of the year and the various forms of light each brings. Capturing Yosemite in all different kinds of weather gives me the freedom to push my creativity and experiment with diverse expressions and moods. Whether it’s star photography or abstract photography, the seasons give me the opportunity to observe and appreciate the essence of Yosemite.
(AAG) What are some of your favorite things about teaching photography and why?
Brittany: When I started learning photography, I had no one to impart knowledge to me. I was surrounded by a few photographers. But like many contemporary photographers, they seemed reluctant to share their knowledge. Like Ansel Adams, I find great joy in giving my students the tools to create beautiful imagery. I love seeing the light sparkle in their eyes as they learn and discover what the camera can help create for them. As a Photography Educator, I am fulfilled when I set my students up for success so that they themselves can discover their creative vision and capture memorable moments.