“Give a damn: about the world, about people, about love, about the environment, about music, about politics. Do what you feel, feel what you do. Do what you want, but make it count.”
Known for her playful 35mm editorial portraits and gorgeous landscapes, social worker-turned-photographer Amanda Leigh Smith has been shooting film for over 15 years, consciously infusing her work with a sense of purpose and optimism. We recently chatted with the Portland-based artist about her muses and craft.
You’ve traveled everywhere — tell us a story about your favorite place!
ALS: I’ve been really fortunate to be able to travel to lots of different places all over the world, and each place has been so special. After every trip I feel like it’s been my favorite. I just got back from Standing Rock, North Dakota so right now that’s my favorite place. It was definitely the most physically and emotionally challenging and important trip that changed me to my very core. It both broke my heart yet also gave me so much hope for humanity.
If you could work with any photographer, who would it be?
ALS: Cass Bird and Lynsey Addario.
What are some ways we can promote female photographers in the fashion industry?
ALS: Make conscious efforts to hire more female photographers, photo assistants, and art directors for campaigns and editorials. Pay them equal wages and industry standard rates even if they don’t have the same amount of followers or level of experience as their male counterparts. Give them more opportunities to learn and gain experience. Exposure is important and valuable, but women will never be equal to men if they are mostly expected to work for free or for a lesser wage.
I know you hail from Texas but travel between LA, Portland etc. — do you consider yourself a cowgirl or city slicker?
ALS: I’ve spent most of my life bouncing between those identities, revolting from one or the other at different points in life, but have finally reached a place of acceptance that I am both equally those things.
What gets you inspired creatively?
ALS: I’m equally inspired by the nostalgic smells of my youth of tomato plants and horses and when walking the silent halls of art museums. I’m happiest when I find a balance between those two identities both personally and creatively.
What one thing do you try to capture in your photos?
Funniest thing you’ve seen on the internet recently?
ALS: Pigmy goats in pajamas will always be my favorite, but I just saw a video of a kitten hugging a salt lamp while asleep and it was pretty incredible.
Check out @a_leighsmith‘s work on Instagram!
Photos by Chelsea Parrett