Life is short, do what makes you happy… Everybody’s on that tip, but Amanda Jasnowski is actually doing it; living in Brooklyn, traveling the world with creative friends, falling in love with a man on a different coast, directing ad campaigns for iconic brands, getting featured in 30 under 30 lists. Not bad for a 21-year-old, right?
Here’s a selection of our favorite photographs from her portfolio and what she had to say about her life, inspiration and upcoming projects. Follow her on Instagram @hokaytokay & Tumblr for daily inspo!
LF: When did you first pick up a camera, and what inspires your photography style?
AJ: Around age 14 or 15. It is always growing and changing, but some things that have been super inspiring recently are color, light, shapes, humans and the work that my peers are making!
LF: What is your vision or goal when you approach a project? What’s your process?
AJ: The overall goal is to make images that surprise me. I want the trajectory of my personal work to excite me! It’s also important to always have fun. My process varies project to project but sometimes I brainstorm for a project and other times I don’t… I just gather a few things, start shooting and see where that takes me. As important as having control of a shoot is I find it also equally important to give up total control.
I am hoping to start a portrait project when I get back to NY in December shot entirely on medium format. It’s a different process for me shooting with film, a lot more time and space in-between photos and generally more planning for a designated number of images. A more tender process in comparison to shooting with a digital camera.
LF: What part of a shoot is the hardest for you?
AJ: Communication can be difficult sometimes, gauging the people you are working with and knowing how to get your ideas and voice across and make them feel comfortable in front of your lens. It’s definitely something that I continue to learn about and work on.
LF: What would you say was the moment or shoot that you felt really solidiﬁed your presence and aesthetic as a photographer?
AJ: “Greetings from Utopia” with Jimmy Marble this past February here in Los Angeles was a shoot that really surprised me, it felt pretty “next level” to us. We were super excited about it! Since moving into my Brooklyn loft in February I feel like my work has moved in a whole new direction in return of having studio space right at home, being able to shoot so much more and often.
LF: What do you learn about yourself through self-portraiture?
AJ: You can learn a lot about the way you physically communicate with your images and the way that you see yourself. When I first started taking photos I was too bashful to ask people to let me photograph them so I was usually the one in front of my lens, and in my self portrait series you can see the way that process evolved and how I did the same.
LF: Can art and commerce really coexist?
AJ: You can try your darn best to make that happen. There are always some compromises when you work as a professional creative but i think as long as you are making personal work and sharing it, it increases the possibility of getting hired commercially based on your personal artwork.
LF: How do you feel about Instagram and how it affects photography as an art form?
AJ: While I understand why some people don’t feel great about Instagram, I also understand why it’s an amazing thing! I am grateful for it, it’s introduced me to so many wonderful people from all over and helped connect me to an incredibly supportive and enthusiastic community that I never had anywhere else. The cool thing about Instagram is people like my mother have it, and have an opportunity to be creative and share images they are excited about. Everybody deserves that.
I worked in a camera shop doing retail for the most part when I lived in the Midwest and I learned a lot about knowing how to separate photographers from artists, otherwise I think I would have left work a little heart broken from time to time. I feel safe saying Instagram changed my life, welcome to 2013.
LF: Do you have a favorite shoot you’ve done?
AJ: Looking back there are far more memories of being happy and excited about shoots than memories of feeling lousy about a shoot. All of my collaborations with Jimmy Marble have been tons of fun. Shooting casually with friends is always enjoyable. The first time I ever shot with a model (Echo Nittolitto) was mind blowing, it took my work to a whole new level. I shot briefly with Lauren Isabeau this year and she’s an exceptional creature, the images that came from that shoot have become some of my favorites from 2013.
LF: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be (and why?)
AJ: My family or Matisse. My family because I would love to create something with them someday, the idea of sharing something so personal with those closest to me makes my heart grow. And Matisse because he was so ahead of his time and a total genius. I am learning more and more about his work and it’s never not mind-blowing.
LF: How was your recent trip to Europe?
AJ: It was amazing, sensory overload. It feels like a dream at this point, hard to believe we covered so much land in a short time. There was little structure to the trip, mostly places we had to be in by a certain date but even a minimal schedule caused stress and time crunches. All worth it! The train rides from Marseilles (France) to Rome/Lake Como (Italy) to Zurich (Switzerland) were exceptionally beautiful.
Riding in an open-window train through Italy was also one of the most memorable moments. Jimmy and I are both very grateful to have been sponsored by such a great company (Native Shoes), we’re really happy with how the shoe campaign we shot for them throughout our trip turned out.
LF: What is your favorite location to shoot?
AJ: There’s no particular location that is an all time favorite, although shooting at my apartment’s studio is always nice. Shooting at home in Ohio is a different experience now that I’ve moved away, always extremely nostalgic and peaceful. On location is always fun, it feels like being given this atmosphere and being told “ok, go make some great images, find the interesting bits.”
LF: How has NY affected your work?
AJ: Since moving to New York my work has grown so much! I remember shortly after moving I could feel my creative gears shifting after meeting people and being exposed to new artists and mediums. Color was introduced into my work in 2013 and I began looking more and more at mediums other than photography. In working as a professional photographer it has also given me confidence in my self and my creative voice, which i hope shows.
LF: What gets you off, literally and figuratively?
AJ: Figuratively, doing things in life that scare you a little, make your heart race. Literally, flowers, light, dogs, good plans, inspiring friends, people-watching, love, good food.
LF: How fast do you live?
AJ: Sometimes not fast enough, and that’s ok with me. 2013 has been an incredibly fast year. This also sometimes depends on the season.