Browsing the web for good examples of dark photography, I stumbled upon photographer Amanda Norman, who is based out of the UK. Starting out as an amateur photographer, Amanda has taken her love for photography and blossomed it into a major talent who, I believe, is only getting started with her craft.
I found myself immersed in her photos as they capture the essence of both dark and Gothic and was compelled to reach out and talk to her. And so, I did.
To my surprise, she responded and a conversation ensued. I got to know her a little and thought it would be a good idea for others to get to know her as well as to help spread her fantastic work. Hence, this interview was conducted.
ReelyBored: When did you decide to become a photographer?
Amanda Norman: I’ve never made a conscious decision to become a photographer.
I just started taking photographs. At first they were snap shots and that’s when I decided that I wanted to capture the atmosphere and emotion of my subjects, which isn’t that easy to do. I’m still learning, but I’ve always had a creative mind.
ReelyBored: Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?
Amanda Norman: This is a hard question.
Like I said in my previous answer, my first shots were just snaps and I wasn’t happy with the photos I took of an angel in the local cemetery as it didn’t have no atmosphere about it. I wanted to portray the eerie feeling I sensed when walking past these life sized statues. Remember the scene in Interview with the Vampire when the eyes of that statue follow Louis? This is the feeling I get and the first photograph of an angel that made me go WOW is this one due to the dark shape against a brooding sky.
ReelyBored: Define the word “beauty”!
Amanda Norman: You like asking hard questions don’t you?
I find beauty in objects or places that inspire my creativity. It’s usually something that has taken many hours or years to have been created.
ReelyBored: How does your personality change when you look through the camera?
Amanda Norman: I wouldn’t say that my personality changes other than I possibly become a loner as I don’t have anyone in my personal life who understands my passion for creating Gothic or horror photography.
ReelyBored: What is your favorite image, either your own or someone else’s or both? Describe its creation or meaning to you?
Amanda Norman: The first image that had me awe struck was Salvador Dali’s ‘Spain’. On first impression, it looks like a battle scene in a desert, but when viewed carefully, you can clearly see a woman known as ‘Mother Spain’ leaning on a chest of draws. This painting tells a story about the Spanish Civil War. Other images of Dali’s that excite me are ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants’ and ‘The Face of War’ as I find that particular one creepy.
I believe that Salvador Dali taught me that every picture should have a meaning to it. You need to draw the viewer in and let their imagination take over. If someone just glances at a photo, what’s the point in taking it to present to the world?
ReelyBored: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Amanda Norman: Favourite subjects to photograph are usually old and eerie. I like taking photographs of Gothic architecture especially if it’s in a decayed state as I find it a shame and a challenge to portray the beauty it once held.
I also like taking photographs of gargoyles and grotesques as there can be some hideous faces. These are hard to photograph as they’re usually high on a building.
I also like taking photographs of cemetery angels and other monuments and my favourite subject to photograph are people for my dark portrait collection.
My dark portrait collection started quite accidentally when I took a photograph of my ‘Uncle Terry’. He likes to pull creepy faces.
ReelyBored: Why horror photography?
Amanda Norman: Well it’s the old Gothic horror films that inspire my photography. Back in the days before CGI, directors relied on music and the effects of lighting to provoke the intensity to scare the audience. My best example is the hideous shadow of Nosferatu climbing the stairs as everyone must have seen this. It’s so iconic!
ReelyBored: Do you sometimes freak yourself out while on a shoot?
Amanda Norman: There was only one occasion that freaked me out and it was within the local cemetery. I was alone and had the strong impression that I was being watched. I scanned the headstones and could see no one so I returned to taking photographs. All of a sudden, I got the STRONG urge to turn around quickly and I seen what I can only describe as a heat haze shimmer pass me at a very fast speed. That was freaky and I decided to call it a day and leave although I must stress that I wasn’t terrified.
ReelyBored: Tell me your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photo shoot!
Amanda Norman: I have a friend who is also called Mandy and she is a dark artist in her own right and her work can be viewed on Zazzle at http://www.zazzle.com/amandaryanstudios
She features in a lot of my dark portraits simply because she looks so evil in them. Now in real life she doesn’t look evil or bad, but once she gets in front of my lens, it’s like her true soul of a witch is revealed. Her own family excluding her husband, can’t look at the portraits and some of her friends don’t believe that it is her face.
Portraits of Mandy include:
The Hag The Witch Evil Mandy Amanda Ryan
ReelyBored: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
Amanda Norman: I would love to do more dark portraits especially for people who would use them to promote themselves while I gain recognition for my work. Such people can include musicians, actors, the list is endless really. I would love to photograph Marilyn Manson and Christopher Lee. That would be totally awesome!
ReelyBored: How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
Amanda Norman: I don’t have a problem with digital manipulation as I use it sparingly on mainly my dark portraits. None of my subjects use makeup to create the effect, they simply pull a face and I do the rest by playing with digital effects, mainly the lighting.
ReelyBored: Any advice for aspiring photographers?
Amanda Norman: Yes! Don’t be told that you can’t do that! I was told that I shouldn’t take close up shots of faces as it’s not the ‘done’ thing. Screw normality!
If you’re creative, go out and explore your creativity and don’t be held back.
ReelyBored: Any plugs?
Amanda Norman: Of course!
Gothic & Horror Collection
My Zazzle store features my photography on products that you can add your own text to like Birthday cards, business cards, invitation cards and it also features prints and posters that are for sale.
Features my gallery and blog titled ‘Inside the Mind of a Horror Photographer’.
You can also find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AmandaNorman
Thank you, Amanda, for your time and for allowing me and my readers the opportunity to get to know you a little better!