It is only fitting that the first spotlight feature on “The Porch” should take place… on my porch.
This week’s spotlight is on Amy Washburn of Amy Washburn Photography. Amy took all of the amazing photos on my Home and About pages. She is a verifiable wonder worker, and I wanted to invite her over and get to know this artistic talent a little better.
Amy is a hometown girl with an easy smile and open manner. Her genuineness makes even the most timid client feel at ease. So I was eager to hear the story about how she found her passion for photography and learned to capture the right moments just so. We settled in on my porch, this artist and I, munching on cookies, sipping iced tea, and talking about the things Amy loves most—tattered antiques, taking pictures, and family.
I had only recently met Amy prior to working with her on the photographs for A Southern Discourse. She was introduced to me by a mutual friend while working on a set design project (for Michael English, eek!). My friend and I pillaged Amy’s studio, emerging with a carload of fantastic vintage furniture, shutters, and windows. I knew that anyone who loved an old velvety-gold camel back couch enough to give it a second chance at life was my kind of gal.
Amy is a self-taught photographer. She laughs when I ask her why she decided to take pictures for a living. She says, “I didn’t choose photography. It kind of chose me… as cliché as that sounds. But being a photographer wasn’t my goal.” Amy actually went to school to become a nurse. But when her children were born, like any proud mama, she took A LOT of pictures of them. She noticed that not only did everyone love her pictures, but she also started getting requests to take photographs of friends’ and family’s children.
Amy looks away and sort of grins as she recalls the first time she decided to take a friend up on her request, “The first time I scheduled a session, I only charged $25! I had no idea what I was doing.” This prompted Amy to start reading books and watching tutorials, devouring everything she could get her hands on. The more she learned, the more intrigued she became. She even shadowed other photographers for at least a year. But most importantly, she spent plenty of time with her camera, experimenting and finding what works best for her. 5 years and an award later proves that photography made a good choice in picking Amy. She has no problem booking sessions or knowing what to do these days. She has accumulated quite a following, and I have to admit, I am one of those fans.
My next question stumps her for a minute. I ask Amy what types of photographs she likes to take best. She finally answers that she has a soft spot taking engagement pictures because she often gets to see those clients again for wedding photos, maternity and baby sessions, and family portraits. “There is a certain joy that comes from that type of connection and watching families grow from one stage to the next.”
But Amy’s real passion becomes apparent when she talks about moving sessions outside of the studio, using natural light, and giving traditional portraits nontraditional settings with a rustic Southern period feel. Amy loves to make her portraits more interesting by making the Southern landscape an integral part of what she does. One can often find her subjects lounging on vintage furniture or standing or sitting next to architectural pieces in the middle of a field, by a barn, or under a tree. She says that it is almost like setting a stage and creating a theatre moment in which she and her subjects can immerse themselves. Every little girl’s fantasy of dress up and pretend.
I ask Amy what she thinks about when she frames a shot. She replies, “When I am taking portraits, I really don’t think about the finished shot. I just enjoy being in the moment with the people I’m photographing and capturing what I am seeing from different angles.” But when shooting just landscapes, Amy does think about composition and framing the shot just right. She is most fascinated by light and location, finding that she likes working with evening light best.
Amy has also found that it is most rewarding to work with subjects who have just the right balance between hesitance and willingness. She has noticed that even in the 5 years that she has been doing this, “selfies” and Pinterest have had a big impact on her sessions. “Some clients come in with very definite ideas about what they are looking for and what they want to look like. Sometimes it makes my job easier, but there are times when it makes it a lot harder.”
As we were wrapping up, I ask Amy if she has a favorite photographer or photograph that she would like to share with me. She just giggles a little and looks off in the distance, “Gosh, I don’t know. I look at so much stuff. I just find inspiration… you know, everywhere!”
I ask her what she wants out of all of this. She answers simply, “I just want a good hometown reputation and to take pictures that I love… and that hopefully others love too.”
Oh, Amy. Believe me. We do.
If you would like to see more of Amy Washburn’s work, visit her on her Facebook page at Amy Washburn Photography or use her sponsor button to the right!
For more pictures of Amy’s visit on my porch, click here.