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Art & Life with Amy Barnard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Barnard.

Amy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
From the moment, I picked up my first crayon I intuitively knew how to create, and by the time I held my first camera there was no doubt in my mind that I was an artist. But something happened during my senior year in high school that drastically shifted the direction of my life. During a heated discussion I was told by someone I considered a mentor that I would never make it as a real artist, and that if I went to college I would fail. Those words altered me in a way I can’t describe. Needless to say, I did not go to college right away and instead spent years trying to figure myself out.

The big question was “If I wasn’t a photographer, or an artist, then what was I?” and, that question became a quest to find out. First, I decided to go to culinary school and I become a pastry chef. That lasted two years. Next, I went to GIA to become a gemologist and I worked in the diamond industry for years. Then I decided I wanted to be an actor. (Does any of this sound like familiar behavior for a creative person?) I was desperately looking for that piece of myself that was missing. Now mind you, from that day in high school, and up to this point, I never stopped carrying my camera and taking photos. Ever. (Yes, now it is sometimes my phone.) However, I didn’t take that part of myself seriously enough to commit, even though my family and friends all believed that’s what I should be doing.

By 2001 I was working in NYC for a gemstone dealer during the week, selling my photography on the weekends down in SOHO, and taking acting classes at night. I definitely felt the need to free myself from the 9-5 lifestyle, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. Then another major event happened, but this time to kick my life back on track. It was 9/11. I was working midtown at the time the first plane hit, and when the second plane came into view, we all knew it was an attack. My life would never be the same again. In the 6 or 7 hours it took to get the trains opened at Grand Central to get people out of the city, I knew what I needed to do. I thanked my boss, wished him good luck, and told him I was moving to Los Angeles… immediately. Within three weeks I had packed up my house, closed my accounts, said goodbye to my family and friends, and spent 8 days driving across the country. For the first time in a decade I felt like I was finally following my heart again. I had no idea what was really in store for me but I knew it was right.

To make the rest of the story quick: my acting connections got me into headshot photography, and that got me into movie stills, and finally I had a full-time photography business. But in 2008 once again I needed to make a decision. When the economy crashed, it devastated the industry and I realized that I needed to make some decisions about my career. I talked to my fiancé who agreed (and supported me) that the right choice was finally going to college and getting my BFA. I went to Brooks Institute and graduated Summa cum Laude, and Valedictorian, with my focus on interiors and architectural photography. I have never been happier. And all these years later I have realized, it was never my mentor who didn’t believe in me, it was me who didn’t believe.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As an interiors/architectural photographer it is my goal to capture the personality and soul of a place just the way I would with a person. I want someone viewing my work to feel that they are being given an intimate look inside a new and beautiful world, and that it evokes feelings and emotions that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.

When I prepare for a first walk-through of a space, I need to approach it from the perspective of my client: an interior designer, an architect, a hotelier. They all have different needs, and it’s important for me to be able to see the space from the eyes of that particular creator. Once I have that in mind, and I start my process, it’s as if the space is speaking to me and we are having a conversation. I’m looking for how the light is interacting with it, which rooms feel ready to shoot right now, and which are still waking up and need to be photographed later in the day. Sometimes I’m looking for dramatic shadows that amplify and showcase a particular area, and other times a room needs soft, diffused light creating a delicate expression. Either way, I’m looking for something special that only that exact space has to say, in order to tell its story.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I have to say, that it is a very exciting time for creatives because of social media, especially Instagram. For the first time in our history individuals have the opportunity to not only personally showcase their work but to also build relationships through digital platforms that literally open them up to the whole world. I have found that I have been more inspired in my own work because I have gotten to see the incredible talent and drive of so many tremendously brilliant artists out there. By taking the time to conscientiously connect with like-minded people through social media I have created some of the most beautiful friendships and working relationships that otherwise might not have happened. I know there are people who think it’s all about getting as many followers as possible online, but I have never approached it in that way. I wanted to genuinely connect with people and use the platform as an organic space that grows because I have put my heart, energy, and soul into it. It takes a serious daily commitment, especially because I make sure to respond to every person who leaves a comment, but it has been incredibly gratifying. It makes me so happy to realize that when we all care about and support each other; the world really does become a better place.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The easiest answer is Instagram, or my website. But I do quite a bit of editorial work and can be seen throughout the year in different publications. In the last few months I have had both covers and full 10-page spreads in the magazines: Architectural Digest, Santa Barbara Seasons, and Designed. And also, some of my work was just published by Rizzoli in a book called Houses by the Shore. I am always looking to create new relationships with editors, interior designers, architects etc., so anyone who wants to support my work can help by making introductions for me.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Amy Barnard

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