Tamara Lackey is a portrait, commercial and editorial photographer whose work has been described as “expressive, soulful, funny, beautiful”. A Nikon USA Ambassador, her work – from children’s portraits to celebrity portraits – has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including O Magazine, Men’s Journal and on The Today Show.
In this episode Tamara interviews conceptual portrait photographer Amanda Diaz about how she is able to create high end images on a budget and shares some tips on fashion and editorial photography.
Photos by Amanda Diaz
My Secret to Getting From ‘Wanting to Give Up’ to Where I Am Now | Amanda Diaz
I guess this would be a part II of my previous article, “My Best Piece of Advice for Photographers Who Want to Give Up.” After that last article was written, I received quite a lot of personal emails from others who felt they were in the same boat and on the verge of giving up. Reading some of their stories really hit close to home for me and was basically the main reason why I wrote what I did. I tried my best to answer everyone, but if I missed you, I apologize. I get many emails a day and sometimes some of them slip through the cracks.
Many people wanted to know what it is I did to keep pushing through, not give up and how I got to the point of where I am today. This article should hopefully fill in some of the gaps left behind in the previous article.
So starting from the beginning where I mentioned growing up with a single mom and having to struggle…
This right here was the main reason that kept me going. You see, I did not get into photography to become a “famous photographer.” In fact, I think that if that’s an actual goal in this industry, you should probably give your head a shake….but that’s a whole other article.
My intentions were far from that. I got into photography as a hope and outlet to pay bills and eventually get away from my day jobs that burned me out mentally, physically and emotionally a long time ago. I had no idea that the way I did things would lead me to this point today.
Like I mentioned previously, it was the fear that drove me here. The journey this entire time has been a constant roller coaster of good and bad, encouragement and tear downs, highs and lows. Feeling happy and accomplished to encountering failure time and time again and wanting to just give it all up.
When I first began, I remember sometimes 2-3 months would go by and not one damn email from anyone. I was just so discouraged! I would be upset for days on end, questioning what I was doing wrong. But I didn’t give up…
After the previous article, I read a couple messages that I should not be telling people to just keep going if they don’t have the talent to do so. Well, I really don’t know of anyone that picked up a camera when they first started and just was on point and amazing at all they did instantaneously. It takes years of experience, dedication and HARD WORK!!
My article was meant for people who actually do have that little seed inside of them, waiting and wanting to grow.
You can read inspirational stories until you are blue in the face, but deep down if you don’t think you will ever make it, and keep sulking and pouting and looking at the next person with envy and negativity, well guess what? That’s exactly what you are going to continue to get.
I don’t mean to sound rude or harsh, but those are the facts.
What Kept Me Going
Here are some things that kept me going through the low times.
For one, I would submit work constantly to magazines and blogs. 95% would never even get back to me, but I would say to myself, “Oh well, their loss – whatever,” and move on. Yes, it sucked and hurt and I was rejected many times- but you get used to it. Let me tell you though, once I got published here and there, it was the most amazing feeling and I felt so happy! It was worth the pain of rejection.
Another example, I would be exhausted at the end of the week from my day job, but still would have the energy to do that creative shoot I had planned on the weekend- this is how you will know, that photography is what you want. When you TRULY believe in yourself, dedicate time, money, passion, long days and nights, study, research, think of creative ways to keep going when you might not have the money or support to do so otherwise, push, sweat, focus, have positive self-talk and just keep that drive, even if you lose it every second day – you will succeed eventually. This doesn’t happen overnight, this is a long, grueling process – blood, sweat and literal tears. I kept reminding myself what I was doing this all for.
There it is, that’s my “secret.” I held on to my dream. I didn’t ever let myself pout for too long. I constantly had to re-focus and keep moving forward.
The whole point of this is that basically, if you believe in yourself, I mean really, truly believe in yourself and do the hard work to get there, you will get to where you want to be. It may take 5 years or 20 – who knows. But when you get there, and you look back, it truly is worth it in the end.
For those of you reading this and you can relate to what I am saying – I would suggest to start taking mental notes of what you think about yourself and your work while you are shooting a subject and so on. Pay attention to your thoughts and realize that they can either lead you to success or the opposite.
One day at a time,
Amanda Diaz Interview – An Inspirational & Passionate Photographer
Amanda Diaz is one of the best-known Fashion and Portrait photographers based in Western Canada. Her career as a photographer started in 2008 and in 2012 was nominated as one of the top ten fashion/editorial photographers on the Framed Network.
Amanda, like many successful artistic photographers, has made a brand for herself in the world of photography. Her work has been featured in multiple magazines and websites from around the world and has taken over all forms of social media.
Besides her sensational work of taking stunning photographs, Amanda is also teaching photography and workshops. Her style in photography has brought her the attention of many who are looking to learn from her.
If you are seeking for some inspiration in the fashion and portrait photography, then Amanda Diaz is the photographer for you.
In this interview, we speak to Amanda to seek out insights into her work and feel her passion towards photography.
Amanda spoke to us by email…
Let’s start with a small introduction about yourself.
I am a Fashion and Portrait photographer, born in Toronto, Ontario and currently reside in Western Canada. My shooting style tends to lean more on the artistic and fine art side of photography. I like to add a surreal and ethereal mood to most of my images. I love watching movies and listening to music – I usually will have one or the other in the background as I’m working or editing. I’ve been shooting for almost a decade come May 2018.
Before you started with photography I see that you worked with children for a long time. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, that is correct. I studied early childhood and started out in daycares. I then began working with children who had special needs. Autism, speech delays, behavioral issues, FASD etc. It was fulfilling but also extremely stressful and I was getting very burnt out. I then started studying graphic design and photography online part time as I continued working. It took me a total of 5 years to transition out of the first career and into this one now as a photographer.
At what point did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?
It wasn’t really that obvious, to be honest as I was planning to be a graphic designer, I had to finish my courses in order to get my certificate of advanced design, and choose an additional subject and so I chose photography. I was following assignments and used friends to model for me. After getting so much positive feedback on my work, I just ended up going in that direction over time.
Were there any hurdles that you encountered at the beginning of your journey as a photographer?
Yes, many and I still do from time to time. Rejection for one, and also that I walked into quite a rude awakening. I found that the more attention I started to get online and off, the more negativity and hateful comments also came my way. It was quite a shock and many nights I would cry myself to sleep in total confusion as to why strangers would talk to me and about me the way they did, making accusations of my character and so on. But as time has passed, I just don’t really worry about it anymore and stick to myself for the most part. I would say that was the biggest challenge for me- other than learning the technical side of things which I am not fond of.
Why did you decide to become a fashion/ Portrait photographer?
I actually started out taking pictures of weddings, babies, family etc. As time went on, I found I was not really happy nor was I interested in doing images like that. I actually got to the point of nearly just quitting- I started to work with models here and there and really loved the energy and creativity I could have. The planning, styling, shooting and even editing was something I enjoyed a lot. Over time, I just started to only shoot portraits or fashion editorials and have been doing that ever since!
In 2012, you were nominated as one of the Top 10 Fashion/Editorial Photographers. How did that feel?
I was pretty excited and quite surprised actually. It was very encouraging for me as I was placed in a category with a couple other photographers whom I admired and looked up too- So even though I didn’t “win” -being nominated was more than enough!
How much time do you spend taking photos? Can you tell us a little bit about your workflow?
Well, these days actually not very much! I’ve been so busy with working on a new project that will be coming this spring its left little to no time for shoots! I’m trying to get back into some more creatives coming up though! But as for my workflow, I usually begin with some kind of inspiration like a makeup or hair look, some style of clothing, lighting Etc, then from there, I build on the idea adding more elements and trying to create something unique. Once I have my idea I start gathering my team, set a date, shoot and the spend forever trying to narrow down the images. Sometimes I get so critical of my work I don’t even want to look at the images again…It’s the artist in me I suppose. It’s a very bad habit but I’m working on it.
How do you market yourself to your clients?
Well, luckily, I have my social media that helps me a lot when it comes to being hired for work. People tend to see my work a lot on platforms like Instagram or Facebook so that part makes it easy, as well as word of mouth from past clients.
You’re also in the photography education industry. How long have you been teaching photography workshops?
Yes, I’ve only been teaching workshops only for the last 4 years. My last one was this past October and I most likely will no longer be doing physical workshops (unless they are retreats) as I am now moving my curriculum online. It makes it a lot easier for students too as they can learn in the comfort of their own home and at their own pace.
What projects are you working on now?
I have two brand new projects coming up that has been keeping me really busy. One is in partnership with a couple friends and it will be a resource site for females in business and the other is my online courses that I will soon be releasing
You have around 53.3k followers on Instagram, what tips can you give to photographers who want to get their work seen like that?
I think the most important thing when it comes to social media, to remember to be true to yourself, style and brand. Don’t worry too much about what others are doing unless it’s to motivate you, otherwise it can get really discouraging watching what everyone else is doing. Also, be patient and consistent with your posts. Even I sometimes fall off and it actually does affect my visibility if I don’t stay on schedule after a few days. Social media honestly for me can be very draining and time-consuming… especially that I am such a private person, I have difficulty sometimes thinking about what to post other than an image! But I’m trying to be better at it though!
Any final words of wisdom you would like to share with all the aspiring photographers out there?
I would say just to keep focused if this is truly your passion. It can be a harsh and competitive industry and there will always be ups and downs, but if its something you love – just don’t give up! 🙂
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