July 5, 2022

Amanda Powell

Balancing growth, failure, and self-expression with Amanda.

Snapshots

Describe your journey with photography.

My photography journey started long ago in a high school darkroom. I was incredibly lucky to have a comprehensive, student-built photography program, with two darkrooms, a studio set up, computer lab, and one persnickety hippie teacher who didn’t hold back on shredding our work. The environment was high energy and a bit stressful for us high schoolers, but I loved it! I haven’t not had a camera since.

I’ve dabbled in just about everything — events, natural light portraits, food editorials, teaching film photography lessons, nature and travel photos, selling art prints. Currently, I’m doing seasonal school/yearbook photography & portrait sessions. When time allows, sprinkling of conceptual & nature/travel images.

Photography continues to be an important facet of my life. An avenue to communicate when words fail me, an opportunity to encourage others or build solidarity, or a chance to preserve genuine childhood smiles. Those are the current places I’m in.

What have you learned along the way that you wish you knew earlier?

I’m still learning this but you don't have to have all the answers before trying something! People say this, but it’s so true. If I’d allowed more opportunities for failure, made more interesting choices instead of safe ones, I think I would have come into a foundational sense of self sooner. It’s easy to just not do or make something due to feelings of inadequacy.

But being willing to fail is a huge asset for growth!

Your work is so personal. How do you balance growth, failure, and expressing yourself?

Balance is tough. Failures are essential to growth, rather than apart from it. It’s not a new concept, but it’s still a frustrating one. I funnel my internal conflict around this into my more artistic and conceptual work. My concept images tend to be more ambiguous, to bring nebulous ideas into a more tangible place. Hopefully they present human ideas, frustrations, anxieties, or feelings first, with the self portrait aspect being secondary. 

A huge part of balance for me is creating a mysterious or abstract image, then being an open book about my process. None of my work is failure-free. Even the work I make to deal with these pesky human ideas is rife with those opportunities to grow. It’s infuriatingly meta. And I might as well share that if it helps someone feel a little less alone on their creative journey!

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Amanda Powell

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