I have been keeping up with Amanda Leigh Smith's projects for the past few years now; with her lookbooks for Sugarhigh + Lovestoned featuring hazy film filters, natural light, and crazy locations. Every photo has the feeling of being taken over by Mother Nature's undeniable beauty. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for this month's Artist Spotlight feature, and I'm so stoked to share it with you! Happy April!
1) Your photographs have such identifiable styles about them. What is your favorite technique/filter to use?
I mostly shoot with an inexpensive and durable 35mm SLR camera. I like to shoot with a wide 28mm lens so I can fit a lot into one frame and take pictures of things as I see it with my eyes. I have a gallon sized bag full of all kinds of weird pieces of plastic or glass hand-held filters that I hold in front of my lens when shooting that I've randomly accumulated over the past 6 years or so by spending lots of time nerding out in old photo shops digging through boxes of used equipment. I have about 3-4 favorite filters that I usually stick with when shooting though.
2) Where did you get your love for photography come from? When did you realize photography was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
I am not sure where it came from, but I know I've loved photography (or any visual art) since I was a child. Throughout my teenage years I always had a camera on me and I became my high school newspaper's photo editor, which is where I first learned how to use a dark room. I was accepted into Brooks Institute of Photography for visual journalism, but was unable to go due to the expensive tuition so I completely switched gears and went to college graduating with a BA in Political Science. I worked full time as a social worker for homeless teenagers for the past few years while doing freelance photography on the side - mostly for fun. Within the past year I decided to dedicate myself to it being my full time profession.
3) What did you go to school for?
4) Where do you hope to be professionally in five years? What is one of your goals?
My main goal is to be working full time with photography supporting my future family and myself. I hope to have a successful studio and find representation to help support my career. I also have a large list of designers and companies that I would like to work for and people I would like to collaborate with or photograph, a list of places that I would like to be published, and a list of places that I would like to travel to and photograph - I hope to have a good chunk of that list marked off.
5) You have worked with so many insane brands…What is your approach when going into a lookbook shoot? How does it differ from other shoots you do?
Lookbook shoots are typically more organized and structured, and more collaborative with creative input from designers, stylists and hair and makeup artists. Sometimes shoots are completely spontaneous, but it's always about having an adventure and about telling a story.
6) Where is your favorite place to shoot?
I love to shoot outside in nature, but I also love to shoot in unique houses or buildings with lots of character. If it means going on an adventure to get to it I'm into it.
7) What time of the day do you feel the most creative/do the most work?
Any time of day. Just about every day, all day I am thinking about what I can do next.
Shoot as much as possible, take risks and follow your dreams.
9) What would be your dream project?
There are a lot of shoots that would be dream projects for me – it would be impossible for me to narrow it down to one. Mostly my dream would be to travel the world photographing people and places and be consistently working with designers and people I admire.