I often visit The Paris Apartment online store to look at the beautiful furniture and antique finds. On my most recent visit, I came across a few pieces by Canadian photographer Amy Friend. The images instantly intrigued me and I searched for her website to see more of her work. Her photography is often light, dreamy, inspiring, and imaginative. I adore her use of water, light, air, and movement throughout her collections. Though her images capture a single moment, they always seem to be alive and moving. I asked Amy a few questions about her work and inspiration.
Amy’s interest in photography began when she was quite young. “I would often wander as a kid with a cheap point and shoot in the surrounding fields and to the beach near my home,” she said, “I lived on the outskirts of the city near Lake St. Clair with several little family run farms in the area. My adult ‘interest’ fermented while I was in University. I planned to study painting and drawing, but my first course in photography changed my direction entirely and I have been hooked ever since.” She said the inspiration behind her work varies often depends upon what is surrounding her.
“What I know or have known and experienced and I work with those ideas,” she said, “A few words come to mind when I think of what inspires me — Time, Memory, Place, WATER, Life & death, Freedom, Motion & Stillness.“ She attributes most of her training to school, but is a self-proclaimed ‘tinkerer.’ “I typically prefer to be free of heavy lighting and highly structured photographs. I like to experiment with the camera rather than know exactly what the outcome will be. I also work in analog practices and recently began to dabble with collodion processes.”
After seeing so much of her lovely work, I was wondering how long it took Amy to finish each shoot. “Well, it all depends on what I am shooting,” she said, “Sometimes I see a place that has a ‘certain something’ and I will revisit it several times to shoot. I like to discover what I might not immediately see when I am photographing a specific location. Other photographs I have taken, that are not location specific, might require days to produce.” The Vestiges series is actually comprised of nightgowns. “The Vestiges work was photographed using a huge light box that I built,” said Amy, “I wanted to emulate motion and used carefully selected nightgowns and specific lighting to achieve those results.” In fact, the light blue/turquoise vestige is one of her favorites. “I have the proof hanging above my desk,” she said.
Amy’s series that depict fabric in water are equally striking. In fact, at first glance- I had imagined they were beautiful old dresses from antique trunks floating about until she informed me that they were indeed bed sheets. “The idea began when I decided to ‘symbolically’ wash the bedding,” said Amy, “I guess as a personal ritual- of sorts. I was very close to my Nonna and after she passed away I brought the bedding to the beach. I felt they needed that, however odd that may sound. So, my mother and I gathered the fabric and went to the beach. It was actually a bit humorous as there were several fishermen wading in the water while my mother held an umbrella above my camera because it was raining. So I let the sheets flow in the water while I photographed them. That bedding was so intimate. It was the bedding she slept in for the last time.”
And, does she have a favorites series? “That is difficult to say,” she said, “The Vestiges work was an important series both personally and technically. But, every new body of work seems to draw me in. I’m working right now on some new images that are quite different as I use the figure more specifically in the photographs. So, this is new territory.” She is inspired by artists including: Petah Coyne, Bill Henson, Dianne Bos, Sally Mann, Elsa Mora, Anish Kapoor, Caspar David Friedrich, Marc Seguin, Motoi Yamamato, Shary Boyle, and of course, Anselm Kiefer. And, though she may not have a favorite place she has traveled, she says memories from Morocco stay with her. “I traveled through Morocco several years ago and I think about it all the time,” said Amy, “The contrast of water and desert and the sheer magic of the places I visited remains a vivid memory. The medina in Marrakesh was a fantastic experience! What life in all its forms!”
Amy looks forward to photographing many places someday and already has several spots in mind. “I want to photograph a cloistered convent. I am fascinated by the unknown,” she said, “I would also like to live for some time on a smaller, less developed island. I am interested in engaging with the everyday life of a small place. And, finally, India.” She dream of seeing her work in a highly visited gallery someday, a public space, or even “somewhere installed in the middle of nowhere.” Amy said her greatest hope is that her work simply gets out there. “As far as owning the work, I want people to love it, to be struck by something in it,” said Amy, “That is what I am for. On that note, if Sally Mann owned a piece I would be over the moon! When I really became involved with photography she was a great source of inspiration.”
The Timekeeper series (featured above) was photographed at Port Stanley, Ontario. “This was one of those moments that fell at my footsteps and I loved every minute of it. Honestly, I was visiting my aunt and she brought my mother and I to Port Stanley for an afternoon,” said Amy, “The weather was so hot and hazy that everyone seemed to hover in the water. It was dreamlike. As soon as we arrived, I saw the light and water and I immediately began to shoot. I loved seeing the ‘little bodies’ wading in the water, negotiating the space- negotiating the Earth and water. Everything felt so still and slow.”
And, Amy has some equally intriguing photographs of Cuba. How did she get involved with photographing that spot? “Well, I just married a Cuban, (now Canadian) although I traveled there a few times before I knew him,” she said, “Cuba is an interesting place. It has a mixture of cultures, faces, environments, fragile beauty, and it holds so many subtle secrets. There is a mix of history like no other. You see remnants of it everywhere. I also love that people want to be photographed there. They seem to understand the importance of being ‘recorded’ per see and I love to see how highly regarded photographs are to them.” She shared that she will be back there again soon and that she has a “secret” project she hopes to shoot. “We’ll see if that happens, it is supposed to be my honeymoon,” said Amy. At the end of the day, it seems that what keeps her work interesting is her spirit and continuous quest for adventure and new experiences. “I like to fuss. I like to play,” she said.