AMANDA ROSE HARPER
Almost two years ago, we stumbled across Amanda on Instagram. There was nothing crazy about her profile. She isn't "Instafamous". She isn't a TV personality, fashion blogger, or anything in particular, except, well, herself. Although most of Amanda's photos are "selfies", they have an incredible range of color, angle, costume, and location. She's typically always smiling, and when she's not, she's real. She has pictures with her hair sweaty. In workout clothes looking worked out. She's always pretty, but a prettiness you can't quite put your finger on. Instead of wanting to be her, she makes you want to be friends with her and be a better version of yourself. Something about Amanda seemed relentlessly hopeful. And this fascinated me. And then I saw the hashtags. #365.
AMANDA ROSE interview
Tell us about the 365 Self Portrait Project, how you heard about it, and why you decided to do it.
--- I first heard of it on Instagram. I started my account knowing I was going to be posting self portraits for a year. I was challenged by a friend who posts pictures of herself all over social media every day... Something I originally found annoying but more truthfully inspiring to see that kind of confidence and self-love. The idea behind the portraits was to get artistic but also to reconnect with yourself and document a journey in self love, physical and mental growth. As I was searching for relevant hashtags for this project I randomly found #project365.
At first, when I stumbled upon your IG, I didn't realize your portraits were part of a project until I started examining the hashtags. You have a lot of variety in the composition of the shots. Do you take all of these yourself? Did you frame yourself with such variety before you started the project?
--- I take all the photos myself. I'm being strict about it. People have offered when they see me struggling to prop the phone up in a bush or whatever but I tell them no thanks. I think it's totally part of the process and helps keep it authentic.
The truth is I'd never ever "framed" myself or even taken many selfies at all before this project. I was totally annoyed with people taking selfies. I've learned though, that the things we dislike in others are merely reflections of ourselves. Me disliking selfies or people posting tons of pictures of themselves was because of my own insecurities. Now that I'm further along in this project, I don't mind them at all. I've changed my thinking and realize if they love themselves that much, it just means they have that much more love to share with others. It starts from within.
What do you think it means to be a minimalist? Does the way you frame your IG shots and shoot photographs influence the way you see life?
---Yes. I'm a lover of the little things. I love finding joy in experiences over possessions. Plus I'm really into minimalist living in general, for the planet, for mental health, and for wellness. I currently have 33 items in my wardrobe and have a pretty hefty goal of some day getting all of my possessions down to 100 (that means everything). UPDATE: currently working on the 100 item project #100toliveon
Would you consider yourself a photographer? What do you think differentiates somebody who "takes photos" for their personal use or collection, with a "photographer"? Do you think this matters at all?
--- No. I just see myself being influenced by pictures I like. So I guess I couldn't comment on the difference because I don't consider myself a photographer and have only been taking pictures for personal use. Maybe instagram has blurred that line and I'm kind of glad because there is so much interesting personal and professional photography happening on Instagram every second of the day.
What are you going to do with the 365 photos once the project is completed? Have you printed any of them?
--- I have no idea. When I started I definitely didn't think I would have kept going. I haven't printed any but maybe it'd be fun to have a physical copy to go back and look at later in life.
What does your significant other (or anybody else in your life) have to say about your involvement with the 365 Self Portraits Project? Do you know anybody else in real life that is doing this? Would you recommend it to other people?
--- My husband is completely supportive. He didn't know about it at first because I was scared to tell anyone about this completely self indulgent, boring, 'every day picture of me' project. Haha! But now I'm proud of it and happy to share with friends and family. I only hope it'll make people want to appreciate themselves a little bit more and appreciate moments in time. 365 days will go by so fast.
What do you think makes something beautiful? What do you think makes a person beautiful? What is the relationship between beauty and it being translated to a photograph?
--- I think young people are beautiful. (Old people are so beautiful too, don't get me wrong) but this fleeting moment of being young should be cherished. I'm 34 and I see things starting to change so I want to embrace what I have now and really give it so much love and gratitude. I remember being 25 and hating every picture of myself. Now I look back and wish I had taken so many more pictures. Women can be so mean to themselves and I honestly don't even understand how I hated those pictures so much back then. I had different lenses on.
Moments are beautiful. Authentic moments in time. Laughter, sighs, sadness, life in general. I do try to capture moments. It's hard when it's just yourself but I do try to be authentic.
If you don't mind me asking, what is your profession?
---I have a small business in SF as a dog walker and am also a musician. I produce music, sing and perform as "Running In The Fog"
Have you studied any self-portraiture photographers? Who are your influences when shooting?
--- I haven't studied anyone, no, but I love photos by and of Hattie Watson, Emma Fineman, Andrea Dabene, and Elizabeth Gadd.
What is the relationship between interface and health? Every single day, I am assuming, you are on your phone in order to post your self portrait for the day. Do you think this has changed the amount of time you are using technology each day? If so, how?
--- I'm oddly using the internet less! Instagram never feels like it's sucking me out of my life the way facebook or other social media outlets do. And because I'm using IG on a daily basis, I'm not using other social media outlets as much as I used to. I've been allowing myself about 20-30min a day average to post these on Instagram. I check back in every now and then because I find IG inspiring and therapeutic, and I'm very happy finding myself spending less time online.
Would you have done this project if you did not have a public audience?
--- Definitely. I told myself from the beginning that this has nothing to do with "likes" or followers. I always make a point to "like" my own picture each time as a reminder that liking/loving myself is what it's all about. Hopefully spreading that message will become part of it too.
Do you still get photographs printed?
--- Not in a long time. I miss photo albums but as a minimalist, I appreciate the accessibility and storage we have available online so that I don't have to.
Do you think it matters if you use a filter for your photographs? Why do you think there is bad reputation behind filters? On that note, if you had the option to learn how to use a non-Iphone camera and develop your photos, would you do it? Or is the iPhone good enough for your purposes? I saw one of your hashtags was "iphoneonly". What does this mean? Why put this tag?
--- The iPhone is what I have and I'm grateful for it. I'm just being honest and owning what I use. I like using hashtags that connect me to similar users. Through that hashtag I found some really incredible iphone photography and was really inspired and felt challenged (in the best way). If I had a good camera I would definitely want to use it. I'm just up for whatever challenge, I guess.
Filters are fun from an artistic perspective. You can play w/ light and colors to evoke a mood in any photo. I love to play with light and shadows and am always drawn to warmer woody shades with soft blues and greens. But that is just me and where I come from, which is probably why I end up taking so many photos on the coast.
If you were only allowed to have 3 different subjects of physical photographs for the rest of your life, what subjects would you pick? (ie. people, places, animals). Why? What about if you only were allowed to have printed photos of 1 subject?
---I would pick people first, then probably dogs and coastal places. People would probably be priority for me though because of how we can evoke memories, emotions, inspiration and simple moments so beautifully in photographs. This is why I love "Humans Of New York" so much.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
---I'm a musician, dog walker, part time fitness coach, self-love/wellness advocate living in SF with my husband and little terrier mutt rescue.
What would say the relationship between community and IG is?
--- I believe we are built to connect. IG is just another simple outlet for human connection. There obviously needs to be a balance between real life connections and online connections. Online connections such as IG inspire us to stop and appreciate ourselves and our surroundings, as well as others around the world. Therefore, hopefully inspiring us to get out into the world and make those connections in person as well.