Thursday, March 19, 2009
Interview - Amanda Friedman
Amanda Friedman's work holds a special place near to my heart, being another photographer shooting at night in Los Angeles. I previously featured her work here. I was interested in asking her some questions relating to how she came to have gallery representation with one of LA's finest photo-focused galleries, Kopeikin Gallery and share her answers with you, as I think many of us are in the dark as to how to go about doing this.
Amanda will be showing her work in a slideshow during the Month of Photography Los Angeles, MOPLA on April 4th, titled Dark Side: The Anatomy and Topography of Los Angeles at Night.
So I am a huge fan of your night landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised to see how great an accomplice fog is for shooting at night and you use it extremely well. Having been focused on artistic photography, I've shied away from commercial endeavors even though they would allow me to more quickly pay my bills. I think there is a perception in the art world that shooting commercially in the early stages of one's career can take away some perceived legitimacy. However, you have found a way to shoot beautiful editorial and travel work, while having great gallery shows and representation. How do you view and walk this line between art and commerce?
I think shooting commercially can add to your legitimacy. its a good idea to fine tune your craft and make money so you can afford to shoot your fine art projects. If you believe in this "line" between art and commerce it will dominate your perception and reasoning. I think it best to try to blur or wipe this line out completely. When shooting commercially you need to be aware of your own artistic eye, and if you want to sell your art you need the structure of business and commerce to facilitate that. Having enjoyable and attractive personal work can also attract clients to you. Shooting commercially can provide you with situations that you wouldn't seek out, makes you adaptable and versatile, provides you contacts with people who can afford fine art, give you experience dealing with the business and money matters in photography, which can help you sell your art. In short there is no reason to be a starving artist when you have a valuable skill where people will pay for your talents. Forget about what you think other people think, get out there make some money, hone your skills, take time for your art.
You are represented by what I consider a pretty great photo-focused gallery here in town. Many artists would consider this a sort of be-all and end-all and the idea of how to reach this goal seems a bit unattainable sometimes. I once asked another photographer how he came to get his representation and he said he'd received a rejection from one of the big contests (something I'm sure we are all familiar with), had a bit too much wine that night and started emailing galleries. This one had responded favorably there he found himself talking to me at the opening reception. How did this come about for you and what challenges come next?
Upon moving to LA in 1998, I joined APA and entered some night landscapes into a contest they were having at the end of 1999. Fortunately, I ended up getting a judges choice award for one of my images. Charlie Holland, the creative head of Getty's LA office picked my photo as her favorite. APA then threw a party / award ceremony and that is where I first met Paul Kopeikin. He sat behind me during the slide show and we struck up a conversation. He liked the work and gave me his card. At that point, I remembered feeling like it was a good card to keep. Fast forward 4 years later. I had been working a lot on building up the night project and felt it was time to get it out in front of galleries. Paul was the first person I called and he invited me in to show prints, the rest is history. I was very lucky.
The only challenge for me has been getting a solo show at his space, which I’m hoping will come this spring / summer. Paul realizes that I do shoot commercially and I’m not shooting my fine art 100% of the time. He constantly asks to see new work and wants to see that I am shooting my personal work, not just commercial, which can be a hard thing to balance equally. However, Paul has faith in the work, the work has sold and does have a big fan base, so I guess at this point I just have to be patient and hopefully a show will come soon!
So it took 4 years for you to contact Paul. When did you know you were ready? I think a lot of us are aways trying to make better work and are feeling like we're not "ready" yet, but I guess we'll hopefully always be improving so at some point this becomes a bit silly. What has happened since "signing" with the gallery? I think it's easy to think of this as being the goal, but I'm sure there are a lot of next-steps that arise. How have things gone since? What are the next steps/challenges once one is represented? Have any other opportunities arisen as a result of having gallery representation?
When I contacted Paul, I had a significant body of work to show him, approximately 30-40 images that I was really proud of. The work was getting a ton of great feedback from various people, my friends, other photographers, and editors. People kept saying, "You have to get this work into a gallery, its amazing." so I took the advice and called him. I also just had a gut feeling that I was ready.
You can't doubt yourself or your work. You just have to go out and do it!
Since joining Paul, he has sold a lot of my work, which has been fantastic. Getting a show has been the hard part. Paul knows I shoot commercially and that my fine art is not always my top priority, so that has been hindering my ability to get a show. I've just had to be very patient and continually try to shoot as much new work as possible.
I did just show him 15 new images, and he became excited about the work again.
At that point he has promised me a show this summer.
Next steps: getting a book published, which I’m working on now through blurb. A publisher expressed interest in seeing a mock up, so hopefully once it’s made I can send out and see if that is a possibility.
Challenges: coming up with a new fine art project and making time to shoot it in conjunction with my commercial projects.
Other opportunities that have arisen as a result of gallery representation: I did have a solo show at DWC gallery in Chicago back in FEB 08. The curator at the gallery saw my work through Paul’s website.
You can also read all of the helpful posts on getting a gallery that Edward Winkleman has done on his excellent blog here.
Posted by J. Wesley Brown at 11:27 AM