ST. PETERS - Elaine Adams sees herself as more than a photographer. Though her job is to capture images, she constantly searches for the deeper level - the true characters behind her subjects.

"My goal is show everyone that they're beautiful," Adams says from the porch outside her recently opened second studio in the heart of St. Peters Village in Warwick Township. "It's really fun to be able to capture everyone in their true character."

Specializing in available light and non-traditional settings, Adams' portrait work is unique, and is strongly influenced by her surroundings, including her family's farm in Warwick and the natural beauty surrounding St. Peters and the Tri County area.

Adams, a 20-year survivor of breast cancer, and her husband moved to their farm 30 years ago from Delaware, where she studied art at the University of Delaware, though, ironically, never took a photography course.

"I traveled extensively after college, studying art," Adams said. "I worked for an airline and that gave me the opportunity to see all of the things that I'd studied in art history first-hand."

Adams draws on that traditional art background when working in photography, viewing her work more in the vein of painted portraits.

"When I go out wandering, I think of taking 'paintings,' not just grabbing images," Adams said. "I love to take photos of animals. I'll spend hours wandering around Lancaster County to catch (landscape and wildlife) scenes before they're gone."

Adams' studio work includes a wide variety of specialties, from senior portraits to families, pets and other special milestones. She says that opening a second studio in the heart of St. Peters only makes sense, given the transformation of the village in recent years.

"My husband and I have owned the building (in St. Peters) for 20 years, and we've always wanted to open a location there, but at the time the village was not commercially viable. But when Earth Companies came in and did all of that great work, upgrading the landscaping and the Inn, they made it work. I'd never seen it like this. It's gorgeous."

Adams' photography studios are open by appointment only, but on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays her art gallery in St. Peters is open to the public. For more information on Adams and her photography, call 610-469-9658 or visit www.melaineadams.com.

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