Ethereal Light in Bushwick: Sarah Jane Shanks Collaboration [Part 2] by Amanda Liew

  This is Part 2 of my collaboration with the life-loving Sarah Jane Shanks! To see Part I please click here.

For Part 2, I'm showing you guys the photos from the incredible rooftop of this apartment we used in Bushwick! The wind was blowing hard and it was a lot colder than it looks, but we laughed our whole way through, played with the breeze as much as possible, and witnessed swatches of colors appear in the sunset behind us. I had so much fun experimenting with light out on the rooftop and in the interior shots in Part 1. It's incredible how just the slightest of movements, the tiniest of blockings, can completely change how a photo comes out. Soft hues versus sharp contrasts are all possible. While normally I would try to be editing the colors of my photos to remove any "unnatural" hues, I actually loved the shades cast on Sarah Jane as the sun set and sought to capture them even more. 20150403_0280_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0311_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0328_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0331_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0339_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0343_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0345_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0351_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0353_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0358_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0366_ALiew_SJShanks Collab20150403_0373_ALiew_SJShanks Collab

Ethereal Light in Bushwick: Sarah Jane Shanks Collaboration [Part 1] by Amanda Liew

Collaborating with other artists has become one of my favorite things to do as a photographer - whether it's working with the members of The Photograph Collective to come up with a new project or working with fashion bloggers, I love the teamwork, new ideas, reflective questions, and joint visions that go into collaborations. So when Sarah Jane Shanks reached out to me ever so sweetly with a request to collaborate for one of her upcoming projects, I jumped at the opportunity. We met up for breakfast early one morning to get to know each other better and how we could match what she wanted with how I preferred to shoot. We used a Pinterest board to brainstorm the looks we were interested in capturing, and it became clear we wanted light to play a large role in all of our photos. She came up with the brilliant idea of getting a space for us at an artist's loft in Bushwick that had unique furniture, plenty of light and an incredible rooftop. Armed with a few flowing outfits, 4 ft flower sticks, and an adventurous spirit, Sarah Jane came ready to turn our vision into a reality.

I can't even begin to describe how much fun I had during this shoot! I snapped a couple of hundred photos, moved furniture around, taped a blanket to a wall, chased the light, watched the sun set in the background, and just had the time of our lives. We tried some things that didn't work, but found other things that worked surprisingly well. I am so happy with how these photos turned out!

Another aspect of this collaboration that was quite interesting was our discussion of payment. I've been thinking about what photography means to me and how to balance the "value" of my photography. On one hand, I feel that the minute I start accepting payments for my photography, I will lose a love for it. I find so much creative refuge in shooting and blogging and don't want to have the stress of having clients & expectations on time frames for delivery. On the other hand, I don't want to devalue my time & effort for photography. For this collaboration alone, I probably spent 12-15 hours total in between meetings, brainstorming, traveling, shooting, editing, formatting, delivering, etc. Fortunately, for this time around, Sarah Jane and I found a beautiful solution that she would donate to my roommate Krista's missions trip in lieu of paying me for my services. I think that this solution addresses both of my concerns so appropriately - I'm not doing it completely for "free," but I am placing a value on my work as well!

Keep your eyes out for Part 2 of my collaboration with Sarah Jane soon!

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Insinuations and connotations: the cycle of imagery by Amanda Liew


As a fairly conservative person, I look at the first image and I'm instantly uncomfortable. There's an intimacy and rawness that seems far too private to be displayed to the public much less enlarged to that size. Yet, that's the fascinating thing about framing - it can completely change the context. With such a close up shot, the image clearly depicts bubbles on a body, but which part? The question itself insinuates other connotations. Yet, that's simply my arm - much more innocent than the picture would suggest. Despite taking the picture myself and knowing very logically what the image depicts, even my own mind jumps in a split second to assumptions, shock, judgement, and more. I remember during the Vancouver riots, a photograph blew up on the internet.

(Rich Lam/Getty images)460-kissing-couple-cp-getty

It seemed to be evidence of a couple kissing on the ground amidst the chaos surrounding them - they seemed at peace and in their own moment. Yet, from a different angle, the story told another story. In truth, the girl had fallen down during the stampede and was overwhelmed and crying. Her boyfriend was attempting to calm her down the best he could. This still fascinates me because it goes to show how there's a continuing cycle of how life and art affect one another. The public saw that photo, and perhaps you see my photo above, and we all make assumptions based on...imagery we have seen before. It's so interesting how over time images, colors, words, sounds, and so much more can collectively impact all of our thoughts.


In terms of photography, I wasn't willing to risk damaging my DSLR, so I used my iPhone 5 and the Camera+ app to take these two shots (and edit!). I'm constantly amazed at the power of our cell phones - I can't believe the amount of detail that can be captured.

Light, Form & Abstraction by Amanda Liew


For my second Digital Photography assignment, we were tasked with capturing "Light, Form & Abstraction." I'm starting to realize that I am really uninspired by wandering around my neighborhood and much prefer creating my own studio within my house....or maybe that's just my laziness and trying to avoid the cold! Either way, I find it much more enjoyable to take the time in my own house to set up my tripod, fiddle with my settings, and shoot the same thing 3000 times without needing to worry about a) my fingers freezing off, b) my subject flying away, c) people staring at me because I'm taking a super close shot of tin foil in public, d) all of the above. For the assignment, we were encouraged to play around with different types of lights and to point them in different directions to play with shadows and reflections.

We also have been learning how to use Camera Raw to edit our photos in the most basic ways: changing exposure, clarity, color hues, etc. It's a non-destructive editing format and it's the "pre" step to Photoshop.

The inside of an umbrella

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Lamp stand


Handheld mirror with a clamp light at the side


Perfume bottle. I actually bought black poster board for my backgrounds! It looks much better than using an old black sweater, don't you think?


Wooden puzzle pieces


Perfume bottle with left low light


What do you think this below picture is? It's the inside of a boot! I thought it looked oddly cavernous.