Incredibly talented Australian photographer and designer Amanda Summons shares her story behind the #52 Ladies Project, currently featured in PhotoAccess’ Subliminal exhibition in Canberra, the nation’s capital.
Photographer: Amanda Summons
North: Tell us a little about your project.
Amanda: Last year, I wanted to do something to celebrate International Women’s Day. I decided to take a portrait of one woman each week, for one year. I wanted to showcase all the beautiful women in my life, to celebrate them and take snapshots of their life in that moment. This turned into an 18 month project, which has culminated in the launch of my first personal book. I’m also honoured to have my photography featured in PhotoAccess’ Subliminal exhibition in Canberra. This is a group exhibition that is the culmination of a year’s work in the Personal Photography Project. I highly recommend taking part in this program as it really helps you keep on target to achieving your dreams of having photos in an exhibition.
North: What inspired you?
Amanda: The whole idea of the project was to celebrate the “every day woman”. I was inspired by the relationships in my life, by my female friends and family members. Why can’t we celebrate these women rather than celebrities? I wanted to showcase the beauty of having your photo taking. That smiling and being happy can be artistic and beautiful. I also wanted to highlight the commonality and individuality of these fifty-two ladies.
North: How did you go about setting up your project?
Amanda: I invited my friends and family members to participate in the project, and also did callouts on social media. Most of the girls were from Canberra, which is where I’m based, but I also featured my mum, my sister, my grandmother and friends from all over Australia and the world.
North: What did you want to convey through the photographs?
Amanda: I wanted the girls to make sure that they loved the photos of themselves, and to be comfortable in front of the camera. The project was done in black and white because ladies are less critical about themselves in black and white! I just wanted to have a bit of fun with the project; it was all about finding people, capturing their essence, and getting them to embrace who they are.
North: Your book is absolutely beautiful. We love how personal it is: your introductions to each girl, the quotes and questions you got them to answer. What did you hope to get out of that process?
Amanda: I wanted to find out about the girls, beneath the surface. I asked the girls to pick from a wide range of questions, ranging from deep to silly questions. I wanted to draw out some of the common themes, like having your mum as a role model, and what it means to be female. But I also got some really fun, off-beat answers, and that’s the beauty of the project. I got really positive feedback about the questions. Some girls said it helped them crystallise their values in life.
North: How would you describe your artistic style?
Amanda: I like to think of my photography style as being “no fuss”. Getting a simple, genuine connection. I love to photograph people and food. Why can’t happy smiles be artistic? I tried to make all the girls in the photos laugh and feel at ease. You’re your own worst critic, so I love the challenge of taking a good photo that someone likes.
North: What’s next for the project?
Amanda: I’ve just published the book, which is available at http://au.blurb.com/b/8924512-52-ladies or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For next year’s International Women’s Day, I hope to get portraits of 100 women. To reach this goal, I’ll be doing my first photography shoot this Sunday 23 September at PhotoAccess https://www.photoaccess.org.au/ and invite all girls to come along!
Check out more of Amanda’s visual wonders on her website.