Behind the Art - Getting to know Amanda K of Amanda K Photography

We all have our artists that we admire and that inspire us. People that we would love to meet and learn more about. Some of us dream of watching them work for a day through a session, or maybe sit down with them and listen to them talk about what makes them come alive, about struggles, and learn all we can over a cup of coffee.

Amanda K of Amanda K Photography is one of the artists whose work inspired and shaped my own work in many ways. I've been collaborating with Amanda for a few years now. She is a beautiful lady, inside and out! It's been an honor and it is an honor to feature her work in EW Couture products! And many times, products have been inspired by her art.

Her work is emotional, filled with light and pushes the boundaries in innovative and unique ways. As a simple viewer of her photos, at times I feel transported to those unique moments that she captures in her sessions and weddings.

I am thrilled to be able to share this interview and some of her favorite work with you!
You can find Amanda's website here, or connect with her on her Facebook business page.

photo courtesy Laura Nelson Photography

photo courtesy Laura Nelson Photography

What are some of the places you’ve called home? Where is home now?  I was born in Southern California and moved up to Oregon when I was just an infant. I have lived in Medford for just under 40 years.

What do you love about living in Medford?  I love living in Southern Oregon!. We are blessed with 4 beautiful seasons, we are only 2 1/2 hours away for the beautiful Oregon Coast line, and am only 15 miles north of the California Border. Medford is still a relatively small town and we are surrounded by mountains, vineyards, lakes and rivers. It's been a wonderful city to raise my family.

You travel a lot shooting weddings. If you could live anywhere on planet Earth, where would you build your dream home?  Traveling for weddings has been nothing short of amazing. I am always overwhelmed when couples feel connected to me enough to want to bring me to them. It's a true honor. There are so many places within the US that I still dream of seeing and shooting in; however, to answer your question it would have to be Maui. If money was no object, I would love to have a 2nd home there. I love the simplicity of the island life, and I could spend DAYS wandering the beaches there.

Where is your favorite vacation destination?  My favorite vacation destination is hands down, without a doubt, ITALY. I was blessed with a trip there this past October, and Italy with forever hold a piece of my heart.

How did your photography journey begin and how long have you been a photographer?  My photography journey began just after I walked through a very difficult season in my life. Twelve years ago, I lost my husband in an accident, leaving me and our three little ones behind. The rug was literally pulled from underneath me. I was sitting on the floor of my mom's living room numbly going through boxes and boxes of prints (snapshots) that I photographed of him and our children. Those prints became the most valuable treasure I had. They were his legacy. They were a tangible memory and glimpse into the relationship my children had with their amazing daddy. I learned to appreciate the medium of photography in an entirely new way. It became my passion...my tool for healing. Photographing life became like oxygen for me in a world that I didn't recognize anymore. I never imagined that God would take me this far...beauty from ashes. Photography has never been about me, but about the new relationships I have established through documenting the life and love of amazing people.

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

How would you describe your photography style? How it came to be?  The style of my art has evolved and changed so much throughout this past 9 years..just I have changed. My passion is the human element and the gamut of emotions that we all feel and portray. I am not inspired by "pretty things" but the authenticity of the human spirit and the love shared between two people in love. My style has been labeled by others as romantic, ethereal, and soulful.

I love the way you see light and your use of it. Has “finding the light” come naturally for you? What is your best tip for finding great light?  Thank you! Learning the light comes from shooting in every lighting situation you can imagine and by shooting A LOT. I learn something new about light every time I shoot. Time of day, location, time of year, and the colors of your surroundings ALL affect the light quality in an image. It becomes second nature. It's also about KNOWING your equipment and using the light to create depth and life in the image.

You have an amazing artistic eye and it’s obvious in your images. How do you stay inspired?  Staying inspired. That is the million dollar question. :)  It's so easy as creatives to allow ourselves to be submerged in wedding blogs, pinterest, etc etc. We are all exposed daily to beautiful art and imagery. I have found that I need to step away from looking at other peoples work before a shoot as I don't want to be influenced by everything I have seen, but to photograph what I SEE. I will admit, there are days or even weeks that I feel completely deflated and uninspired. That is when I force myself to shoot a personal project. I always walk away from those sessions re-charged and excited again about my work. Ultimately, it's the couples I get to work with. They inspire me more than anything else.

The first photographer that comes to your mind. What is it about their work that inspires you?  Elizabeth Messina. Her film work evokes a true feeling of "awe" when I look at it. She has mastered her art.

Who was the first photographer you stalked? Stalked might be a strong word, but who would you say that had a huge impact in your growth as an artist?  Red Leaf Studios would be the first photographer team that I was completely smitten with. Their couples portraiture absolutely captivated me. They are from Canada and the locations they shot in were breathtaking as well. I loved the romantic feel to their work.

I love the way you introduce yourself on your blog, to your readers: 
“I am a wife. I am a mother to 3 amazing human beings. I am a believer in God, and worshipper of Christ. I am an artist. I am a widow. I am a lover of warmth. I am insecure. I am hopeful. I am driven. I am passionate. I am blessed. I am ordinary. I am Amanda K, and it’s not about ME.“
Where does photography fall into place in your life? Being your own boss can sometimes let work take over your life. Have you always been able to keep work and family life in balance?
  Keeping my life in balance is a DAILY battle. LOL I have learned to prioritize and to make the best use of my time. I strive to make every moment count. My now husband and I have learned to be a team...he is wonderful about taking care of the house duties that I just don't have time for. When my 3 children were young, photography took a back seat and as they have grown more independent, I have been able to expand my business and invest more time into it. Number one key, keep away from distractions. Social Media can either make or break you.  :)

What are three fun facts about you that most people don’t know?  Funny thing, this was the toughest question for me to answer. Ha Ha!  
a) My greatest fear is being eaten alive by a wild animal  (I'm not even kidding...I obsess over it)
b) The three things I can't live without are coffee, my electric blanket, and my GPS
c) My husband is 16 years older than me and I have a 29 and 26 year old step-son and daughter. :)

I love how perfectly you describe yourself. If you could only use one word to describe your photographic style what would it be?  Soulful

Looking back, from the beginning of your journey in photography, what has been your favorite subject to photograph and why?  That is a tough question!! I love high school seniors. They are always SO excited to be in front of the camera and are always willing to let me try new ideas. However, there is something SO rewarding about photographing a couple in love. Their love is infectious!

What is in your camera bag?  I currently shoot with a Canon 5D MarkII, Canon 1V (film). Lenses include the 85mm 1.2L, 35mm1.4L, 50mm 1.2L, and a Sekonic L358 External Light Meter

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

What is your favorite photography accessory other than your camera?  My favorite photography accessory is my STEP STOOL!  LOL  I am a whopping 5ft 3in and I haul that stool with me to EVERY shoot!

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?  I would choose the Canon 35mm 1.4L....I LOVE that lens. It is so versatile and is TACK sharp.

What is your favorite editing accessory, other than your computer (program, plug-in, Photoshop tool)? How important is Photoshop to your final images? (assuming your workflow includes Photoshop)  My favorite editing accessory is Lightroom. I make all of my initial RAW adjustments in there and touch up in CS5. I only use Photoshop to remove a blemish and to sharpen and re-size for web.

Are you a Mac or PC lover?  MAC!!!  There is no comparison!!

It’s so easy to waste money along the photography journey. What would you say has been your best investment thus far and what do you wish you’d hadn’t spend your money on?  Oh that is a GREAT question. My best investment has been my camera lenses. It's all about that glass! My greatest regret in spending is WORKSHOPS! There are only TWO artists that I would ever consider investing money to learn from. Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina. Otherwise, there is no better way to learn to just SHOOT and SHOOT some more. There is no greater way to learn than through experimenting and failing.

What is the best choice you have made for your photography business?  The choice that I feel has made the biggest impact is to shoot what I love. I learned to put all my energy and skill into weddings, and portraiture. I didn't want to be average at everything, I wanted to be great at one thing. Having that focus has given me direction and helped me to prioritize.

Where do you hope to see your business in 10 years?  Hmmm...I have no idea. I will be an old lady by then! I would love to shoot commercial work for dress designers...that would be a dream!

What are your photography related goals for 2013?  My goal this year is to incorporate film into my workflow.

What or who got you started in wedding photography?  I was avoiding wedding photography like the plague. It terrified me! However, I was asked by the SWEETEST couple Nellie and Alan to shoot their wedding (they were like my 3rd wedding I ever photographed) and I fell in LOVE. They made the entire experience amazing and I had such a strong connection with them. They had faith in me and I am forever grateful!

Do you advertise in wedding magazines?  I do not pay for any advertising and I don't recommend ANY photographer to waste their money on that! The best form of advertising is getting your work published on wedding blogs, Facebook, and word of mouth. They are all FREE.

What is one way you do advertise Amanda K Photography?  For me it's about client care.  If my clients overall experience with me is great, then they will share that with their peers. It's all about the experience!

Your senior work is exquisite. If you could give one tip to those photographing seniors, what would it be?  Thank you so much! I have every senior fill out a fun questionnaire a few weeks before their session. It gives me a little glimpse into their lives and what they are passionate about! We talk about them the entire session...teenagers are all about THEM. :) I am at a little advantage as I have two teenage daughters, so I have a lot of insight into their world.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing seniors? Or is there one? You make it look SO easy! :)  The most challenging part would be that they are their worst critic. They are very critical of themselves and have unrealistic expectations. I always explain that my goal is show the world their best side, but not to "photoshop" them into someone else. It's vitally important that these girls feel beautiful just the way they are. :)

If you could give one tip to those photographing weddings, what would it be?  The one tip I would give is to be PREPARED and ORGANIZED. Never shoot without a backup camera!!

What is your dream destination wedding? Why is that?  My dream destination wedding is Italy!! I am excited to say that dream will be fulfilled this June 2013!

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?  The most challenging part about shooting weddings is TIME. The entire day is scheduled to the minute and they never run on time. I am always looking at my watch and making sure I budget my time wisely so that everything gets documented.

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party feel relaxed in front of your camera?  I want my couples to enjoy their day, and to take the time to appreciate each other; therefore, we play music!  I have them put together a playlist and we have it playing for them during the first look and the formals.  It helps them to "feel" the moment and to not be so aware of the camera.

How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?  The average images I present to a client is between 600-800 images.

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?  My most memorable assignment was a NYC wedding back in August of 2011. Hurricane Irene was supposed to hit the same day as the wedding ceremony. The couple almost cancelled the wedding but all of the vendors came together and worked through the night to move the wedding up 4 hours earlier. There was a citywide curfew and everyone had to be in their homes by 6:00 pm. I felt SO bad for the bride! When we arrived to begin shooting at 7:00 a.m., the atmosphere in the room was absolutely serene and joyful. It was an incredible venue and the one of my favorite couples I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The day was BLESSED and everything went perfectly despite the huge storm brewing outside. It was almost as if we were in the eye of the hurricane. :)

If you could acquire a new skill, what would it be?  If I could acquire a new skill it would be play the violin...always wished I had learned to play!

A website and/or blog you visit often?  Once Wed is my favorite wedding blog!

What do you do to get centered and relaxed? What time of the day is your favorite? Why?  My favorite time of the day is the morning. I love pouring myself a cup of coffee, sitting in front of my computer to answer emails while Christian radio plays in the background. I have the whole house to myself and it's quiet.

If you could have any photographer capture your family photos, who would you choose?  Elizabeth Messina  :) I also LOVE her lifestyle work.

If you could photograph anyone, who would it be and why?  I would have loved to photograph Grace Kelly. She is the iconic princess with simple beauty.

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be? What would be the first question you’d ask him/her?  Corrie Ten Boom...I wouldn't ask her a thing. I would just want her know what an inspiration she is.

Your favorite film (movie) of all time?  I Am Sam.....LOVE LOVE that movie

Your favorite guilty pleasure?  Favorite guilty pleasure is the Bachelor!! Ugh...I get sucked into that show every season.  LOL

Something you are still learning...  Everything!  Parenting, business, my art....I will never get to the place where I feel I have nothing left to learn.

photo ©Amanda K Photography

photo ©Amanda K Photography

Thank you so much Amanda for the interview and letting me (and us) learn more about you and your business, and also sharing your heart-felt work!

You can learn more about Amanda and follow her work through her blog and website. You can also find her on Facebook. If you were inspired by her art and her words, head over to Amanda's Facebook page and leave her some love! :)