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Q&A with Award-Winner Amanda Harner

For the September All-Media Exhibit in The Art League Gallery, juror Judy Southerland gave special recognition to three works, and we’re featuring interviews with each of them. The third prize went to Another Day, a photograph by Amanda Marie Harner. (The first and second prize went to Miriam Keeler and Trinka Roeckelein.)

At age 17, Amanda is a junior member of the Gallery, and this was her first piece entered into an exhibit here. The juror called the image the “most movingly rendered face” among the submitted artwork. We asked Amanda about starting out as a fine art photographer and how Another Day was captured.

What are your thoughts on your first show at The Art League? Has your work been exhibited elsewhere?
Amanda: I am completely excited! I would have never imagined I would be doing something as awesome as this at such an early age. I feel honored to have my work displayed amongst so many talented artists. I guess you could say this is a step up from my high school’s art show.

Is there a story behind Another Day? Where was it taken, and what animal is pictured?
Another Day was shot at the National Zoo, of a white-faced saki monkey. The image conveys the perpetual sentiment that yet Another Day will pass before the animals will be released from captivity.

“Another Day” by Amanda Marie Harner.

The juror said your photo had the most movingly rendered face of the submitted artwork. Do you do much portrait work? Was it challenging to get a good image of the monkey?
I actually do not do portrait work very often. I like to work with inanimate objects, however, I have been trying to branch out of my comfort zone. It surprisingly was not difficult at all to get the image. I just watched him for a few minutes through my viewfinder until I felt like it would make a good shot. I took three pictures, and one of them turned out great!

What equipment did you use for this photograph, and how was it processed?
I used my EOS Rebel T2i. It was processed through Photoshop.

How old are you, and how long have you been doing fine art photography? How did you get into it? Have you had formal instruction?
I am 17 years old. I started doing fine art photography almost a year ago. I signed up for a photography class at my school and after about one project I became very passionate about sharing my perspective through photography. My teacher, Emily Hoponick, has set the foundation of my education in photography. She has taught me many technical elements of cameras as well as the elements of art which go into what defines an image as good. I have also had instruction from the Torpedo Factory’s Pete McCutchen. He has taught me a lot about editing, as well as what it takes to make a good image great.

What draws you to photography? Do you work in other visual art forms?
I like the thought of taking something that already exists and making it my own. I do not work in other visual art forms, however I would like to once I get into college.

What are the most important elements of a successful photograph to you?
Composition and lighting are most important in my opinion.

What’s your creative process like — where do you look for ideas and inspiration?
It’s very weird. I don’t even know if I could explain it. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting in school and an image will pop into my head and I’ll have to write everything down and then create the image that I had envisioned later. Sometimes I am just inspired by what I see. I tend to find myself trailing behind my friends whenever we go somewhere because something always seems to catch my eye.

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