Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Conversation with Amanda Marsalis

Amanda Marsalis was first introduced to Nina and myself many years ago, through Hank Willis Thomas. She has participated in Nymphoto shows in the past and has established a very successful commercial photography career. Her work exhibits a superior command of the use of light and her portraits intimately tell a story you want to listen to.

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself.

Amanda Marsalis: I was born in San Francisco, California. I grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco and then the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, where I graduated from high school. I returned to the Bay area for college where I went to California College of Arts and Crafts, which has since been renamed California College of the Arts. My mother was a flight attendant and my father a pilot. I was a very independent child and I guess the word is willful. I started traveling on my own as soon as I could. About the same time, I also began going to see punk bands play and eventually, had the bands touring through St. Louis put on shows in my mother's basement. Having access to that music scene and then to the world, since I was able to fly for free through my parents, was a large influence on my life. Today I travel constantly for work, and also because it is what I love to do. I live in a house with a fig tree in the garden, that I am always happy to come home to. I have been in Los Angeles for a little over 5 years. I am anxiously awaiting the return of Polaroid.


© Amanda Marsalis

Edgar © Amanda Marsalis

NP: How did you discover photography?

AM: My high school in St. Louis had a large darkroom as well as black & white and color classes. I used to skip my other classes and spend as much time as I could in the dark room. I first used an SLR of my mother's she bought in Japan, before I was born. Then I bought a Nikon F3 at a camera show and took it with me everywhere. I went from high school to art school to life as a photographer. I often joke that it is the only skill I have since it sometimes feels like the only thing I have ever done.


© Amanda Marsalis

© Amanda Marsalis
NP: Where do you find inspiration?

AM: That is a hard question to answer. My first instinct is to say light – even to say love. When I love someone or something, I want to take a picture. When the light is beautiful, I want to take a picture. I would put Joan Didion on my list of inspirations, along with great meals, bands I love, the Met on a Sunday afternoon. It is so open though. I love that about being inspired, you never know where it will come from.


© Amanda Marsalis


© Amanda Marsalis

NP: How do your projects come about?

AM: I do not really create a project and then shoot it. Mostly I shoot what I see, and then in the editing it will come together as a cohesive project. When shooting for myself, I usually photograph my friends and loved ones. So when I am working too much and spending not enough time with those people, my personal work suffers. I am working at finding the balance. I have a feeling it is a life long process. I am ok with that.


© Amanda Marsalis

© Amanda Marsalis
NP: What's next?

AM:I have just self-published a book of my Polaroid’s titled Lost At Sea. It is my first attempt at putting my images together in book form. I am happy with the results. It is a very personal and close to my heart project, images of loneliness and love. I just had a birthday so as I write this I feel as if it is a new year, a clean slate, and anything is possible. I am going to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible.


© Amanda Marsalis

© Amanda Marsalis
NP: Thank You Amanda!!

To see more of Amanda's work, please visit her website: www.amandamarsalis.com

1 comment:

evision said...

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