Amanda Mason’s wonderfully fantastical and dreamlike images have been featured in a number of exhibitions and magazines and have already garnered her a great deal of attention and admiration from the analogue community. Now, it’s time to get to know the photographer (and her quirks) behind the images.
Truth: What’s the most random thing you like to photograph?
Amanda: Ha… random… I think most things that I use are random; but random with reason if that makes sense. I’m always using various props, creating scenarios… but I guess the most random object I have that features sometimes is my taxidermied alligator’s head… I love its beady eyes!
Truth: What’s one pre-shooting ritual you absolutely must do before a shoot?
Amanda: Oooh, rituals!! Hmmm… I think that because my shots are usually models (dioramas) or propped or created scenarios, I spend hours sometimes making these, so the ritual to me is that I plan! I always sketch the shot first, just draw out what I want. I think it’s my design training, always drawing out the ideas, so for me it’s the initial drawing, working out what I want it to say, then it’s about composing, checking composition, then checking again. I’m often in my shots, so I need to mark out the frame, to know exactly where everything and myself needs to be.
Amanda: Then a glass of wine doesn’t hurt lol… I know that’s no crazy throw salt over the shoulder kind of ritual, but sometimes I think photography is about the preparation, and that’s where your ritual needs to be. The shot after all is a second.
Truth: Name one of your best AND one of your worst habits as a photographer.
Amanda: Best habits. Crikey… Best. Habits. Hmmm, best habit maybe that I edit work harshly. Won’t often put up lots of different versions of the same photograph to my site or Flickr, etc. I find it makes everything weaker when you have loads of different shots from the same shoot. I mean I don’t want to see the variations right, just choose one!!! I say that to others silently all the time. Just pick one that’s the best, I have stores of shots that will never see the light of day because of this. I think you end up with stronger body of work through editing as much as shooting it. Of course, this is my habit. Everyone else can do whatever they like lol…
Amanda: Worst habit. Oh god! Worst habit might actually shooting after drinking wine. Sometimes I just get into the mood, then have some wine, then decide to shoot late at night; and well this is either downright genius or a complete disaster.
Truth: If you could only see the world in only one color, what color would that be and why?
Amanda: Oooh, what a lovely question! That is a lovely thought. If I could see the world in one colour, it would be in blue, as I have this overwhelming desire to live under the sea, but without all the predators. If I could see it in blues, then it would feel like that peaceful magical place I want it to be without me looking over my shoulder hoping nothing is coming for me…
Truth: If there’s one famous person, dead or alive, whom you’d like to photograph, who would it be and why?
Amanda: Now whilst I would totally love to say someone really highbrow, powerful and intellectual, it would have to be Karen O from the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’m not really one to shoot portraits, but if I could, it would be her because I have this huge girl crush on her, and think she’s fabulously rock and roll! And if I photographed her then I would get to meet her… lol And I think she’d be up for posing with bugs and snakes and alligator heads!
Truth: If you could go back in time, what single moment from your own childhood would you want to capture?
Amanda: Hehe fun!! When I was four, my older brother snuck into my room at night, and hid under the bed. When I got out of bed in the morning, he jumped out of there and growled like a rabid dog; and I remember the next chain of events in slow motion in my mind. I remember seeing him, but not seeing him for the rise of terror in my throat, and thinking that some monster had indeed come out from under my bed, and then tearing into my parents room in hysterics and seeing their legs shoot up from under the blankets as they thought I was being murdered. I still remember this as stills. I want to capture that moment of terror as I am still scarred from it. In a storyboard, monsters under the bed exist!
Truth: Which movie or book would you love to be in to photograph from the inside and why?
Amanda: I would love to be inside Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst. It’s a series of collages, A Week of Kindness. It actually was a series of initially 5 books with 7 sections, one for every day of the week, and each day dedicated to a different theme like Mud, Water, Fire, Blood, etc. He has collaged engravings seamlessly and they are so fabulously surreal and full of meaning, romance, and terror. Hugely surreal and beautiful and I would love to be in that world to photograph it. It’s one of those works that you just wish you had done!
Truth: If you weren’t a film photographer, what would you be doing instead?
Amanda: Easy! I’d be an anaesthetist. There is so much amazing magic and art in the science of an anaesthetic. I think they are amazing. Seriously, I can’t believe there is a chemical that can render you into so many states of sleep, unconsciousness, etc. so that they can do all these things to your body like open it up and perform surgery, block nerves in different parts of the body, render you only slightly sedated so you are in a sleep state but awake… Just the power and responsibility in this medical science. I’ve had numerous different types of anaesthetics, and every time come out of thinking, “Wow, how trippy was that!” Even though I never had the pure academic grades to achieve it, I would love to be working with them, and learning all the advancements as they are made.
Now for your dare, you said that the one book you’d love to be in to photograph from the inside is Une Semaine de Bonte. We dare you to create a photo collage that best describes how you feel every time you look through the book.
Amanda: I created a collage, using Victorian engravings from the public domain in a manner which Max would have created his original collages. Then I photographed this collage on Polaroid Fade to Black, peeled to transparency. This transparency was then overlayed a base PX70 ColourProtection image. All taken with an SX70 Sonar.