Friday, December 5, 2014

Feature Friday with Amy Nowak Photography!

The winner of last week's 'simplicity' challenge is the talented Amy Nowak of Amy Nowak Photography, and she has graciously shared a peek into her life.

1.    Please tell us about yourself...

I am a wife to a very supportive and patient husband and mom to three kids- two boys and a girl.  We recently moved from Virginia to a quaint little area in New England.  I love spending time with my family, whether it is hiking, taking in the sights, or watching my boys in the water at a swim meet.   I start every day with one cup of coffee and always make my bed in the morning.  I’ve always been a perfectionist, but I am trying very hard to let go of that. I love to cook and bake, but I must admit that both have taken a backseat since I began being more serious about photography. People are fascinating to me, and I could people watch for hours if I had the time.  I absolutely love to travel and have been lucky to have had the opportunity to see all different parts of this world.  I still have so much I want to see when I win the lottery!

2.    Can you describe your style in 3 words? Why those words?

Childhood, Timeless, and Connections…
I really love to capture the essence of childhood by using light and connections in my images. I am a huge fan of black and white, and I love that those images have a timeless feel to them.  I strive to capture the beauty of the everyday life of my children. It’s the “in the moment” images- the ones that clearly are unposed and actually freezing life as it is happening- that really make my heart happy.  These are the images that I know future generations will treasure.

3.    What sparked your passion for photography?

I wish I could say that having my first child sparked my interest in photography.  Oh what I would give to be able to go back and take beautiful photographs when all of my children were babies.  The truth is that the years of infants and toddlers were exhausting, and I was never in a place where I felt- Oh I am going to learn photography right now.  I’m the type of person who can only focus on one big thing at a time if I want to do a really good job at it.

It was about 4 years ago that I purchased a Canon Rebel for a cruise we took to Alaska.  At that point, I became passionate about taking pictures.  I continued to stay on automatic mode with my Rebel for two years, but became frustrated.  I knew I had the artistic eye for it, but my pictures were not turning out the way I wanted them to.  I wanted to learn more.  I signed up for a DSLR Beginner’s class, and I began to learn my camera inside and out.  It has changed everything for me.

4.    What's in your camera bag right now?
I’m pretty simple.  In my camera bag right now is my Canon 6D and two lenses.  I have a 35 mm lens and a 135 L lens.  I use them both equally as much and love them for different reasons.  I also have an 85 mm 1.8 that I don’t use nearly enough.  Sadly it is never in my bag, but on the rare occasion that I put it on my camera, I am always amazed at the images it produces.  I can’t part with it.  I carry an extra card, some lip balm, tic tacs and of course some candy for times when my 5 year old may not want to cooperate. 

5.    What is your dream shoot or project?

I am a hobbyist for now, and I have to say that I have failed at most projects that I have tried.  I am involved in several collaboratives with some pretty amazing women, and I do keep up with my submissions, but my 365 didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to.  I am hoping to do something less intense in 2015. I do shoot almost every day, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t.   My dream shoot would be a military homecoming.  I would love to document this amazing experience for military families.  The emotions, connections, and true spirit that exists on a homecoming day is a photographer’s dream.  Of course, if it happens during the golden hour, then that would just be the icing on the cake. 

6. What are some of the misconceptions you had about photography and photographers at the beginning of your photography journey? Have they changed, and how?

I use to think that as long as I had a fancy camera, I could take fancy pictures.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.   There is always something to learn, and that is what I love about it.  The learning is never over.   The camera is just the tool that the photographer uses to take the image.  The photographer is truly the one that works the magic.  You have to know how to manipulate light, settings, composition, as well as connect with your subject.  None of these things are easy.  It truly is an art.

7. What advice would you give to newbie photographers? What advice do you wish you'd been given at the very beginning?

Stay true to yourself. Listen to your own voice and know that if you are creating images you love, others will too.  Shoot what you love and what makes you happy.  Self doubt will always be there, and it is part of the creative process.  There are always others feeling the exact same way that you are feeling.  It’s normal.  And when you think you will never get “there”, I assure you that you will.  Just keep shooting!  Get rid of noise and surround yourself with the positive people because the support in this community will help you in so many ways.  Join a forum, a collaborative, and take classes.  Amazing things can happen!
I wish I had known that there is not a cookie-cutter, perfect image checklist.  When I first started out, I threw out so many images because the skin tones looked off, the white balance was wrong, or everything in the image was not super sharp and focused.   Now I know the so-called “rules”, but I also know that it is very much okay to not always follow those.
***I’m sharing one of those images that I had originally wanted to throw out. The photo of my three kids on the bed together is full of imperfections- not perfectly focused and a serious foot chop.  Now when I see it, it is one of my favorite images of the three of them.

Find more of Amy's beautiful work here:

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