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Meet Mar Vista Photographer: Frances Armstrong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frances Armstrong.

Frances, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. If you haven’t been, hop on a plane immediately! It’s exquisite, the people are incredibly warm, the food is delicious, and it’s incredibly cheap! I studied to be an MD at the University of Cape Town, and worked as a medical doctor in South Africa for a few years, before moving to London to work at a global consulting firm, called McKinsey & Company. I worked in London for a few years (and did projects all over the world, including Russia, USA, Brazil, and Sweden), and met my husband while at a training in Cambridge, UK. He was living in San Francisco at the time, and it was love at first sight (literally). After a flurry of transatlantic flights, I moved over to San Francisco in 2012. We’ve been in LA now for 3 years and we love it – we live in Mar Vista with our gorgeous daughter Alice and our adorable Labradoodle Rumi. So that’s the personal journey to LA. In terms of photography, I’ve always had a deep love for photography. My mom is an artist (she paints Russian orthodox churches Michelangelo-style), and she bought me a film camera when I was 8. I was hooked! Over the years, I’ve developed my own style, soaked up as much as I could from friends who are professionals, took courses in Cape Town, London, and LA. In LA, I spent time with Julia Dean – an incredibly inspiring human, who runs the LA Center of Photography, and she really got me hooked on street photography. There’s nothing more exhilarating than capturing the glorious, gritty beauty of everyday life on the streets.

Street photography teaches you to be fast and brave and to see beauty in everyday life. I love applying this joy I’ve found in capturing fleeting, beautiful moments on the street to special events in people’s lives. And I really love taking photographs of children – it takes patience, but there’s nothing more rewarding than capturing a beautiful innocent glance. Photographers that have most inspired me – Julia Dean, Sally Mann ( if I can capture my children’s lives the way she did hers, I will die with so much happiness in my heart), and Anna Jazierski (http://www.annajezierski.com/) – an incredible Polish photographer living in Manchester, who I met on the plane on the way from LA to Munich, and who inspired me with her incredible spirit (her husband died of brain cancer, and she took up photography after he died to support her two children) and beautiful art. I hope I get to spend time with her again soon.

Has it been a smooth road?
Two things – one, finding the time to learn! There are so many incredible artists (particularly in LA) – I wish I had more time to spend learning from all the various people I know here. Second, I’m a terrible scatterbrain – I’ve managed to leave cameras in cabs in New York, lose lenses on trains in Stockholm, poured wine on my flash in a cafe in France. It’s a daily struggle…

Contact Info:

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