Monday, November 18, 2013

The Rebel Series: Amanda Webb - Footsteps Photography

I began the Rebel Series to highlight fabulous creative individuals who have diverged from the mainstream and forged their own path to success.  Perhaps they spent years working in the hell-mouth until they couldn’t take it anymore. Perhaps they followed their heart from the very beginning.  Whatever the path, they have chosen not to conform to what society deems the ‘norm’.  And they are making the world a much more delicious place by doing so. 

Today’s Rebel is Amanda Webb, Owner and Magic Maker behind Footsteps Photography.

EM: You in 5 words.
AW: Passionate, professional, creative, determined, ambitious.

Where do you call home?
I’m from the Ozark mountain area of Arkansas, a little town called Berryville.

Can you describe the moment you knew that this is what you wanted to spend your life doing?
After my daughter Alexa’s birth and first few months of watching her and photographing her and all of the different milestones she was going through. I knew I did not want to miss those precious little moments. I don’t even know how many THOUSANDS of images I have of her during just the first 12 months. I made a keepsake book of the highlights from that year and she and I love looking back at it. Seeing all the silly faces she made when she was little, looking and comparing how tiny her little feet were, seeing first teeth, first ponytail, first steps, first time visiting family… (And yes mom, I know you need an updated one J)

This is one of the first images which made me switch the thinking of my career path from Graphic Designer to Portrait Photographer. It was taken when Alexa was about 6 weeks old with a little point and shoot Pentax.

Whose work has inspired you the most?
This is the most recent addition to my list of inspiring photographers -  I love the emotion you see in her work.  How she uses the muted light to capture color or lack of color. You can find inspiration everywhere. From a new angle you never thought of, to seeing an old favorite you have already done but just a little bit different. I’m often inspired by the light in a natural setting and playing with it to achieve something new. I could not count the many blogs/Facebook pages that I follow. Some are old friends, some I’ve met in chat groups, and some I hope to meet in person one day. Inspiration comes sometimes from just driving down the road and seeing a location that I’ve never considered until that moment when I start visualizing how and where I’d pose someone there.

Is there something grand that inspires your life and work?
I’m often inspired by nature and the changing seasons and will see something that makes me think “HMMM I bet I can…” and then start to think of the whole setup in my head. This is an image inspired by nature and taking a trip apple picking with my family. 

Did you go to school to formally study photography?
I did go to school. I started out at the University of Arkansas, GO HOGS!, and then transferred to Valdosta State University where I finished my BA in Fine Art and Design. I’ve also studied on my own with books, magazines and online forums. And done a few workshops as well for specific topics I wanted to learn more about. Worth every penny!!

What defines the Footsteps Style?
I like to think of my work and shooting style as elegant, beautiful and natural.

How many of those adorable little babies do you capture per year?
Off the top of my head, I average 3 newborns a month but I’d love to see that number double or more.

What types of shoots make your heart sing the most?
By far the newborn sessions are my FAVORITES. Those tiny little squishy babies are my joy. And when I see them smile and make goofy little faces my heart sings and I know this is what I was meant to do.

Can you share with me your 3 favorite shots of all time and tell me a little about each?
Really, just THREE is all I can pick? If I must…but I can’t guarantee these will be my favorites next week even! It seems that I’m always seeing the art form differently as the seasons change and of course as new sessions come and I find new favorites in each of them.
I’ve got to pick your EPIC fall session from 2012, it is still a favorite and will be for a long time. This shot was shot in the rain, in the middle of a little road in the forest. The colors, perspective and chemistry are just there making it stand out.

Next, I’d have to select this one. Getting this shot was so rewarding after how much work and time went into it. This is a composite image, meaning for the baby’s safety it was shot as two images and merged into one through Photoshop. Not only that, but the two images were actually shot 3 weeks apart. The motorcycle portion was shot outside with snow flurries and the newborn one inside in the studio. But I had the vision of what the final image would look like and it met and exceeded the image I imagined.

And third, I’ve got to pick one of my little model, which I also have blown up on canvas in my home. Alexa often goes along with me to scout new locations and we take photos of her along the way.  Many of them are often out-takes and her being silly, but I love them.

What do you do to grow your skill set and develop your portfolio?
I am my own worst critic and I analyze all of the images I take. But that also allows me to see what I’d like to do differently and try it a different way next time. Also, a lot can be said for good experienced instructors and workshops. They are well worth the investment.

What website or blog do you stalk the most?
So many to choose from… let’s go with Robin Long Photography as it was one of the last ones that I saw from today. I love her simple and elegant posing work.

 If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Friends and clients are most likely sick of hearing about it, but I’d move back to Okinawa, Japan in a heartbeat. We spent 5 years there and I miss it.  I’ve even got an Asian decorated room with sea blue walls in my house. 

Favorite place you’ve traveled?
So far my favorite place traveled was Kyoto Japan in the fall. I’d love to go back during the Spring Sakura season too. I don’t consider myself a landscape or natural photographer but I do love it for my own personal documentation of places I’ve been.

What is the most hilarious or shocking thing that has happened during a shoot?
HAHA! It would have to be when I was photographing a couple at the beach in Okinawa and was using my 85prime lens and trying to get just a little more environment in the photo while still keeping my eyes on the moment in front of me. I was walking backwards and literally fell right over a big rock on the beach and landed flat on my back feet straight up in the air. Camera and myself were both fine.

There is also the newborn boy with impeccable aim. While posing him in the bottoms up pose he managed to poo all over my camera. I now place it well out of firing range.

What is one thing you would say to encourage other aspiring Rebels?
Never give up your dream, follow your heart, and keep working towards your goal.  

What do you fear? How do you conquer that fear?
SNAKES!!! Nothing has conquered that fear. I ran backwards screaming almost knocking over a client during a session as one slithered right in front of me this past summer. And I have not been back to one of my favorite places since.

Where would you like Footsteps Photography to be 5 years from now?
Who knows where the Air Force will take our family, but depending on the location I would love to have a studio space that is disconnected from my home to be able to easier separate work from home. And I’m sure my husband would love to not have photography props and equipment taking over the house.

What are you trying to communicate with your work?
The moment and freezing time each time the shutter clicks.

Can you remember the first thing you photographed that really moved you?
I can’t remember the first photo that moved me, but I think the moments within photography that got me the most excited were in my final year of Art school - my Printmaking professor had us set a theme for the year (at the time the hardest thing ever was just to set a theme) that we would do all of our work around. But I set the theme as the seaside and ocean. During that year it was really hard to keep everything seaside related, but it also made me think outside the box and try new things. 

During the same year I also had full access to a dark room for my photography class so I used darkroom techniques in my printmaking and combined the two art forms. This was the result, a photo negative enlarged, etched into a copper plate with acid, distressed then printed with intaglio methods.

What other artistic mediums bring you joy?
I sew and crochet often now. Hey, it goes hand in hand with photography and creating all sorts of cute little items for the babies! Recently I’ve starting making maternity dresses for photographers. It’s fun to see something I’ve created worn and photographed by so many talented photographers. Also, I really enjoy oil painting and Intaglio printmaking but have not done it in years.

What is the coolest thing a client has ever said to you?
Sometimes it’s the emotions that speak louder than words - when you see a client’s face light up and a happy tear when they see their brand new baby’s portrait for the first time.

Recently though, I had two moms write a few words to me that made me tear up.  One wrote “BTW you are very talented! You’re the most amazing photographer that I’ve ever met in my life!!! Keep up the good job!” and the other wrote “Thanks so much.  I just also wanted to say you did an amazing job with our photos and all my friends in the baby class. I love logging onto Facebook and seeing their beautiful babies as well.”

What do YOU love about your work?
I LOVE color and playing with different tones and textures within a session to see how they work together and play off of each other.

What is your favorite part about being a Rebel?
For me being my own boss is the way to go. I’ve worked for several companies as an employee and as a director but it’s not for me. My parents are entrepreneurs in outdoor advertising and I think growing up around them and seeing how they worked, kept organized and ran their business made sense to me and helped me to want the same thing. They had a business at our home and my sister and I were always close to them. Since I was able to help, I learned the family business and even worked closely helping out in the shop with them. Not many teenage girls can say they know how to use a table saw, paint a billboard, install vinyl lettering on semi-trucks and dig pot holes…

I can do my own thing, run my business how I see fit, set my own schedule and also teach my daughter about hard work and determination just as my parents taught me.

Where can all these lovely readers stalk you and your work?
I’ve got three places: My website, blog and Facebook - all linked to each other.

Stop by and say hi!

If you are a Rebel or know of one that should be featured on the LAWT blog, please tell me your story here!