Amanda Jones zigzags across the country—Tucson, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles. She photographs dogs and cats and the occasional horse or duck. Her images appear on the cover of magazines and on greeting cards, posters, and calendars. She is often called the Annie Leibovitz of pet portraiture.
Her style is distinct. She studied cinema and photography at Ithaca College. In her photos, she captures the essence of an animal’s beauty and personality. The wrinkles on a Basenji’s brow. The light in an old doxie’s eye. The translucent skin covering the fine bones and tendons of an Italian Greyhound’s stifle and hock.
HeARTs Speak is thrilled that Amanda is joining us as a service professional member. A portion of Amanda’s new line of greeting cards will be donated to HeARTs Speak in support of our mission to empower artists to save the lives of animals in need.
Amanda Jones, Inc. is headquartered at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams. Before heading out on her 2014 nationwide shoots, she took the time to answer some questions.
My first reaction on looking at your portraits is that your subjects are so unique—the faces and bodies are full of drama and character. During the shoot, do you know what you’re looking to capture or is most of it in the editing?
No, it occurs during the shoot. After I get the dog on the set and get a read on their personalities and characters. Will they look better calm and posed or moving and dynamic? What are their unique and beautiful characteristics? What makes them different from any other dog in their breed group? Do they have interesting ears or beautiful long legs? Those are the questions I ask myself when I start working with a dog. I try and answer them with the images I create.
How does working in gallery space within a larger community of working artists at MASS MoCA stimulate your own creativity?
I have been in my gorgeous studio for seven years now. It is an amazing place to have my space because they take such risks with the art that they seek for the museum. It always challenges me to consider what I am doing and what else I could be doing. Plus, it makes a great visual break to take during a day of editing images in front of the computer, which can get a bit mind numbing.
Can you talk a little about your work with helping rescue organizations and what attracted you to HeARTs Speak?
I often donate portrait sessions to rescue groups to help raise money for their organizations. As well, I have done a few shoots for dogs who need to find homes, but I have a very hard time finding the time to do it on a regular basis. I noticed HeARTs Speak on Facebook a few years ago and was immediately impressed with the level of imagery that the member photographers were taking. Plus the concept is right up my alley. My goal from day one with my business was to raise the bar in terms of the quality of dog imagery in the marketplace. HeARTs Speak shares the same goal, just a different marketplace.
What do you usually shoot with? What is your favorite camera and lens?
My set, camera and lens cannot be more simple. I shoot with a V series Hasselblad camera equipped with a P20 digital back made by Phase One, a 50 mm lens and two Dyanlite strobes. That's it. It has not changed in twenty years.
What was the smartest move you made to grow your business?
Sticking with it. There were so many times when I almost quit because I did not get the number of sessions I would have liked for a trip to New York or whatever expectation was not met. Just showing up and keeping my goals in mind has kept my business going and growing.
What do you wish you could point out to pet photographers who are just starting that would enhance their developing style?
Shoot as much as you can and look very critically at your images. Decide if you like the way they look or if there is something you could be doing to improve them. Focus on the aspects that you like and magnify them. Set your standards high and then go out and shoot again. And again.