GR: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live.
AS: I'm originally from Houston, Texas but moved to Portland, Oregon 5 1/2 years ago. I am a full time student studying political science and had always planned on going to law school, but not completely sold on that idea yet. I also work as a social worker at a youth homeless shelter and as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper. Photography has mostly been a hobby, creative outlet and a passion for me - I never really concerned myself with making money off of it, but rather doing what I wanted in the way that I wanted to do it.
GR: Inspiration / influences?
AS: Other photographers: Petra Collins, Saga Sigurdardottir, Steven Meisel, among many others. I draw inspiration for shoots from all kinds of things: fashion, art, music, nature, movies, fantasy, architecture, people I meet ... a random assortment of things I'm exposed to on a day to day basis.
GR: How did you become interested in photography?
AS: I've always enjoyed taking photos, but I really got into it after my art teacher showed me a book from 1973 called Suburbia by Bill Owens and after taking a photojournalism class when I was 14 and then joining my high school newspaper. I mostly was a writer and editor, but one year convinced my teacher to let me participate in a state-wide photo competition and ended up winning best of show. After that I was given more freedom to participate in the photography aspect of newspaper and started focusing on that more rather than writing.
GR: Favorite band(s) at the moment.
AS: Wishbone Ash, Iron Claw, Lee Hazelwood, Marine Girls, The Green Arrows
GR: Do you have any photography tips/tricks for someone just starting out?
AS: Other artists are a wonderful resource. Don't be afraid to reach out and contact others who inspire you, even strangers, with questions. So many people, both good friends and strangers, have been an enormous help with answering questions that I've had about photography, especially around the business aspect of it or questions about equipment. Most importantly I would say to be true to yourself and follow your heart. There will always be people who are critical no matter what you do... Concern yourself more with doing what feels right for you.
GR: Night owl or early bird?
AS: Total night owl. Although I wish I was better about getting up early because the days in Portland are super short during winter. I need more sunshine.
GR: 3 places to visit in Portland.
AS: The Rose Garden in Washington Park during summer, The Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals (technically in Hillsboro, about 30 minutes outside of downtown Portland), and a drive through the West Hills/Skyline Drive... there are some of the most amazing houses up there and great views of the city.
GR: How would you describe your personal style?
AS: Optimistic, idealistic, romantic, & colorful.
To view more of Amanda Smith's photos
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