The Photographic Journal

Amanda Jasnowski

Interview 011 • Jul 11th 2013

Foreword

Born in Spain, raised in Ohio, and now centered in Brooklyn amidst constant travel – Amanda Jasnowski has a unique world view compared to the average 20 year-old. Now a long way from the artsy/dreamer raised in the American Mid-West, Amanda is a photographer with a huge heart and burgeoning talent poised at the precipice of a promising career.

Interview

From looking at your work it seems like collaboration is a central theme for you. What do you find you get out of that interaction with others?

Obviously that’s very specific to who you’re collaborating with, you have to make sure that you can work together creatively. It’s one thing to admire their work a lot and another thing to be able to work with that person. It’s so much fun to make things with other people. To put yourself in that creative situation with someone else – to bounce ideas back and forth – to share…

It’s amazing where someone else can take something that you’ve started. I’ve found that in collaborations I’ll be setting up a shot, or prepping something, and the other person will point out something that I would have never noticed – fathomed. You gain so many new perspectives in collaborating.

When I lived in Ohio I never really collaborated. I felt there was not many people to collaborate with. So, I spent a lot of time wishing that I could. Now that I’m here I love that I have the ability to – I try to take advantage of that.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Jimmy Marble, Slab City from the & Then There You Were series, January 2013

 

You’ve also been traveling to the West Coast often.

Yes! I’m really, really, lucky to be bi-costal at this point. I started seeing someone who lives in LA, but we try and put work into each others visits since we both are freelancers. It’s hard to take time off.

In return I’ve been introduced to an amazing community of creatives out there that are doing such beautiful, inspiring things. Since going back and forth I’ve tried to dissect and decipher the differences in both coasts, and I’ve found a stronger sense of community & general welcoming in LA. I think part of that is due to my circumstances, but I still can’t believe how friendly folks have been and how quickly they’ve let me into their circle and make me feel at home. People assume that creatives are more likely to help each other out in LA, which I can see the truth in. It’s been really inspiring. NYC has a bad stigma though, maybe it just takes time. It’s been thoroughly interesting to get the compare the creative worlds back and forth.

In some ways I enjoy being out in LA more than NYC, but I definitely am happy to call NYC home base for now. I feel like it’s better for me at this point in my career. But in the future I would definitely love to call somewhere out west home base. I think as far as progressing I want to get more into fashion print – and NYC is a great place for that.

You use your creative eye indiscrimnately. Instagram, editorial work, snapshots, vine… It all has that Amanda Jasnowski touch.

That’s wonderful to hear. That’s the way it happens I guess, I just keep doing what I enjoy. Oonce it’s no longer fun, something needs to change. I’ve noticed that in other people and thought “This person’s a genius” – with whatever medium they’re using their eye translates into it so beautifully. I feel really fortunate and excited that others believe that I have that ability – the Amanda Jasnowski touch.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

  1. Yellow limb w/patterns from an unreleased series
  2. Lauren. June 2013 Brooklyn, NY

 

What do you think you’re trying to capture in your photos?

I think saying anything interesting is probably a bad answer…

[both laugh]

I always want to speak to (and photograph) people who are interesting, doing awesome things with their lives. I’m compelled to meet people and hear the stories they have to share.

The subject matter I aim to capture in my photos have evolved over time. Initially I was more compelled to capture the natural element, that which was already there. And while that’s still true I’ve started seeing things a bit more graphic and there’s been a new interest growth into creating new worlds out of nothing.

What spurred your parents to move from Spain to Ohio?

My father moved from Poland to Nebraska at a young age, so he grew up in the States & had learned english. He was working in the auto industry, so at the time the Midwest was ideal. I think they felt like Ohio was a good, quiet place to raise a family.

My parents met in Paris when my mother was living there and my father was traveling for work. Ultimately they started dating and before my sister was born they moved to Spain.

Most people are like “What? Why?” At a younger age I would shrug my shoulders at it. But I’ve grown to be happy that it worked out the way that it did. I’m very glad that I’m able to call Ohio a second home. I really enjoy having moved to NYC after years spent in a small town – the awe and amazement and excitement was enough to make me keel over.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Reform School Summer Catalogue.
Collaboration with Jimmy Marble.

 

Being so creative at a young age, did you ever feel stuck in Ohio?

Oh yeah. Man, I was a pretty angsty teenager because I felt pretty closed in most of the time. It totally felt like a prison at times – my most dramatic, teenage Amanda times…

[both laugh]

I didn’t really share an intense creative connection with anyone back home, so I felt a bit isolated in that respect at times. Although in high school I had a few girl friends that modeled for me and we would have tons of fun shooting. They were there for the beginning of it all!

When people ask me “Do you ever miss Ohio?”I do miss it, a ton! But I do not miss living there. My last visit home a few weeks ago reminded me how beautiful it was. I took a leap of faith for the better, and I hope I never regret it (so far, so good). It was really amusing to have friends parents ask me about my plans for the future and watch their faces when I told them I was moving to NY to pursue my dream. Often times there was no response. That change was certainly seen as a risk by some, but I feel I had no choice, I had to take the first step and get out. I couldn’t fathom staying much longer in a place that couldn’t offer me what I really wanted and was making me miserable at times.

Were you able to take trips back to Spain as you grew up? At least you had that change in scenery.

I would go back in the summers and spend two or three months there at a time, which was really, really great. It wasn’t until the years after my last family visit to Spain that I developed an interest in photography.

My mother is from the South of Spain, from Valencia. We’re from the North, near Pamplona. We have family spread out, top and bottom – as well as along the coast. There’s so much of Spain that I’ve never seen that I hope to visit one day. I look forward to rediscovering my home country with new eyes.

That must have set up a very different worldview for you compared to most kids in Ohio.

I think people thought I was a bit of an “outsider” because I spoke Spanish, was a triplet, and was oftentimes traveling to Europe. I always felt really fortunate regardless – to have had the experiences at that age since I knew most kids my age hadn’t been so lucky – even if they didn’t know it. It was interesting interpreting the differences from Spain to the US, unknowingly having culture shock at such a young age. The first day in the US all I could relate the suburban neighborhood we moved to was to The Simpsons.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Greetings from Utopia. Collaboration with Jimmy Marble

Do you feel being a triplet affected your perception of the world?

I think it made me more aware of the charming oddities in life. When I was younger being a triplet just felt like having siblings, it mostly felt so special when others reminded me.

My brothers and I could not be more different. We’ve never really been close as you’d expect. I think it’s because we’re all on different levels, developing at different rates. My parents always gave me the role of the older sister, even though we’re all the same age. Which I guess makes sense in some ways. My mother always told me ”Boys mature slower Amanda. It’s ok, you’ll be friends soon enough.“

I would love to do a series of twins, triplets, quadruplets, what have you… I’m super fascinated by the similarities, maybe because it’s something I never really shared with my brothers.

I’ve tried to photograph my brothers once or twice but they’re pretty camera shy. For our eighteenth birthday they let me photograph them. I was super proud of that. It was the first time I was able to make something with them. Creating with my family is such an inspiring thing to me. I hope I get to do more of that. It’s really fulfilling to my own heart.

My older sister and I have gotten a lot closer over the years. We are really eager to live together in the fall and make things together!

How have your online connections helped to shape the past few years for you?

Don’t even get me started! It has really changed the game. One hundred percent. I wouldn’t be exactly where I am today if it weren’t for the Internet.

When I lived in Ohio, I started Internetting at a young age. In those years I unknowingly created an online persona. At the time I was doing lots of hanging out on the web, connecting to people I was never really sure that I’d meet. It never really seemed like I’d made many real connections until I moved to NYC, where I could finally see the effects of it. Being on the Internet in Ohio had just been a way for me to reach out into areas I couldn’t fully experience yet. I can finally meet and connect with people in person – and some of those people wind up becoming friends . I’d feel safe saying the Internet has been worth my time – most of the time.

Instagram has really changed things. Having such a large audience and seeing that evolve over time has been really wonderful. There are so many awesome humans making amazing work, there is so much we can learn from one another. I’ve had people who I really admire follow me back, which is always an amazing feeling. To know they they are seeing my images and tidbits on their end, on their phone’s screen.

I would say I’ve gotten 70% to 75% of my jobs through the Internet or networking with people that I’ve met on Instagram. I think I can count on one hand the people that I’ve met organically here in NYC. That’s something I’ve come to terms with and embrace. Everyone else has been initially an online connection.

I feel like if you’re able to utilize the Internet, you can totally use it to make things better and change the game, it can change your life if you let it.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Can you remember any instance where a contact you’ve made online has led to key inspiration or friendship?

It’s brought so, so many good people into my life. I feel really fortunate to be evolving and entering the photography world in this day and age.

A few years ago I was being introduced to new people mostly through Tumblr, which has now evolved into being introduced to new people mostly through Instagram.

Now it’s a mix of art blogs – including those on Tumblr – Instagram, and sometimes Flickr.

Additionally it’s where I first connected with my boyfriend… It’s definitely a different feeling, meeting someone that way and it evolving into a romantic relationship. It’s really amazing how well fitting we feel. I think if we had both been living in the same place – if I were living in LA or him in NYC – that we probably would have met regardless of the Internet, through common interests and friends.

Through Instagram I’ve been able to connect with a lot of folks as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect to so many creative people I admire. I try to keep my following count fairly small so I can go through my feed and really see everyone that I’m following. Some current favorites on there are@sitandread, @arnold_daniel, @teget, @jennileem,@genevievebjargardottir, @eereenuh, @jimmymarble… there’s so many. I could go on for days.

With being fairly young still, when did you start taking photography more seriously?

I think I got my first DSLR when I was a freshman or a sophomore in high school – I’m 20 now. From there, maybe in like 2007-ish, I hadn’t really found a passion yet. Photography seemed like something that was fun, so I gave it a shot to see what it was all about.

I went to a vocational high school for my Junior and Senior years. That’s where I learned all the basics of film photography and got more in depth. I realized how much fun it was to go out and shoot and create images.

I always think back to that time period – where I would go out in the summer in Ohio. Shooting in the woods; covered in mosquito bites; being thrilled to be in this environment – all to capture that shot by throwing everything that was making me uncomfortable to the wayside to feed off the creative thrill.

The feeling’s definitely changed a bit as I’ve progressed. I still get really excited when I see it all coming together beautifully. It’s a ton of fun to get so excited during a shoot, I just keep rattling things off about the colors or textures or shapes. I used to have to filter myself at times when I would take walks with other people – usually in Ohio – because I would get so excited and want to photograph so much.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

It’s really important to see beauty in the simplest things.

Definitely. I focused on that when I was the guest editor for the Saatchi Gallery Magazine in their 2012 winter issue. I feel like the Midwest really helped create that for me, it being such a mundane place to most people. Just finding the beauty in the small things – it’s definitely always there. I remember when I started seeing it, I was ecstatic and thought &ledquo;Wow, this place doesn’t suck so much after all.” It was never the same after that.

I had an old friend that I went to elementary and high school with. We always knew each other, but were never good friends. Sometime in 2011-2012 I took a photo and he left a comment on it that said “It’s really amazing that you can make the most mundane thing look beautiful.”

I still remember that comment often, even now, because in the end it’s what I want to do. I want to help with people’s eyes. It’s super exciting to help anyone see life in a different way, a new interesting beautiful way. I feel really lucky to be able to have my own unique perspective.

You talked a bit on your tumblr about standing your ground on your rates as a photographer. Tell us a bit about how the business side has matured for you.

It’s my first time ever working and living as a freelancer. Friends have been a huge help, giving advice and suggestions. Trial and error is an inevitable part of learning.

When I lived in Ohio, I didn’t really feel like I had the right to price things the way I felt they should be priced – no one there was going to find as much value in it as I did. But that never really set me up to do that here in NYC. I knew I had fears of being a twenty year old who got walked all over. It seems like a fairly easy thing that might happen in NYC. But I didn’t really want my age to intimidate me, or bring fear.

It’s been a lot about respecting myself. Being flexible but knowing where to draw the line – knowing how much my time is worth. I think it’s a constant work in progress. With time I have been able to not fear it all as much, it’s a part of it all. It’s a really great feeling to get treated according to my work and not my age.

[fig caption='Tara. 2013 Los Angeles, CA']

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

My mother, sister and great uncle having breakfast. Paris, FR – May 2012

Being in NYC, where do you find inspiration in and outside of photography?

I’m definitely inspired by many mediums. Photography has definitely been my main voice, but I feel like there are so many others I’d like to play with. Sometimes I sort of lament not going to a school where I was given the opportunity to explore.

Light, trees and flowers, going to new places, making friends, laughing, stitch work, textures, architecture, motivated creators, shapes, colors, and most of all moments that I experience on the street here in NYC can be the most inspiring.

Recently there was a sad, but really moving, moment. I was on the train one morning and I was journaling. There was this woman next to me that was writing away on her Blackberry.

Being a train passenger, I snooped what she was tapping away about. She wrote that she was very depressed, so upset. She was writing to her ex-boyfriend that had cheated on her multiple times. She wrote that she was at a point that she didn’t know what to do, that she didn’t feel like she had any choice but to end her life.

I was sitting there trying to process all of it. Even now, talking about it, my heart sort of swells and beats really fast. To read that – I was kind in a weird state and wanting to help so badly, but not knowing how to. Before I left the train I wrote her a note that said “You have the strength. This world needs you in it.”

As I left the train I dropped it on her lap. Moments like that really affect me. I left the train shaking. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was nerves, or making myself so vulnerable – admitting to reading over her shoulder. I wanted to help in some way, to let her know. That’s all I could do.

It seems overall that you really empathize and seek those connections with humanity more than anything.

I think the most touching things in my life have been moments where people are really human – seeing the vulnerability in people, feeling connected, and feeling unity through one thing or another. It just makes me heart explode in all the best ways.

I would love to create a place on the internet that fosters that kind of unity, like a continuation of the feelings Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July created with the site Learning to Love You More.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal

Central Park. March 2013 Manhattan, NY.

What’s next for you in your journey? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

It’s hard to know, or predict. I imagine probably still living in NYC. Things can change at the drop of a hat, especially with finding new opportunities. I could find a job without any warning and it might be something really awesome. So who knows?

I was doing a lot of stuff with a company called Girl Trip, who is based out of LA – I was Instagramming for them. They’re a community focused on 13-16 year old girls encouraging creativity. It’s such an honor to be someone who could inspire some of these girls. I never had anyone like that at that age – someone pushing me forward, telling me to go for it, being supportive.

I think that age is a vital time in a girls life, where they might be figuring out what it’s like to be creative or that they see things differently. I hope to continue doing that for younger people as I progress. I would love to be able to encourage people like that, and even share my story in the hope to inspire them to really chase after what they want. I still get messages from people back home who I was never very close with saying I can’t believe you’re doing so great right now. Thank god you left. You’re the only one who’s got out. It’s still surreal to receive messages like that, I was once in their shoes with hopes and dreams of getting out. I feel like if I can do it, then anyone can do it. It felt like such a far fetched idea for me, for so long – and then now here I am.

At some point I’d love to go back and live in Europe, but I think I’d be more than happy being in NYC the next couple of years before I call somewhere else home base. Until then I think it would be great living and working in NYC and traveling a lot. I hope to be shooting fashion, portraits, and even some documentary work telling stories. I guess all in all I just want to keep shooting, even the personal things. I also hope to get the chance to explore other things like art department or floral arrangement or art direction in that time or who-knows-what-else in that time.

And you’re really just at the beginning of your journey…

I can hardly contain myself when I think about it. I’m so excited to see what my work will be like even in like three years, or five years or ten! How my life will evolve, there’s no way of knowing… That’s one thing that’s continually exciting. I’m always excited for what the future holds – which is funny because before I decided I wanted to move to NYC, I really wasn’t ever too excited about the future. I’ll never retire I think because I do what I love for a living, and I’ll never stop doing what I love.

Interview 011: Amanda Jasnowski for The Photographic Journal