I Love Nature, Sun, Smell of Trees, the Grass & the Rain
I Love Nature, Sun, Smell of Trees, the Grass & the Rain by Christina Nordam Andersen
“At first glance a photograph can inform us. At second glance it can reach us.”
And that is exactly how I felt when I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the young artist Amal’s work. Amal’s photography touches me with its sensitive and calm expression and I immediately fell in love. She manages to create a simple yet strong expression, which is no easy thing. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Amal. – Christina
“I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream” – Vincent Van Gogh.
C: Christina A: Amal
C: First of all I would like to thank you for participating in this interview. Ever since I came across your work on Instagram, I have been intrigued and captivated by the stills of life that you create.
When looking at your photos I sense a private and sensitive person. Also I have noticed that feelings of melancholy and reflection often come across in your photography. Therefore I wonder: Who is Amal? Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Do you have a creative background?
A: Hmm, now where and how should I start? Beginnings are always difficult for me. The easiest way is to start with telling about my age and where I live. I am 20 years old, and I live in a little town on Funen which is one of the Danish islands. My love for photography started last year, after I graduated from High school. During my long vacation I started to take these long walks with my two sisters and my little brother, and sometimes I carried the camera with me. I liked to capture them while they were walking, talking or playing together. I thought that such moments in life that might seem very ordinary are so precious and irreplaceable, because every moment has a feeling of its own. One day while we were outside I decided to take some pictures of flowers, and I was amazed by how beautiful they looked through the lens of the camera. That’s how my love for photography did start.
I’m a quiet person, I’m not talkative, and sometimes it’s hard for me to express how I feel through words, therefore I try to express myself through drawing. I have always had passion for drawing right from an early age, and now there’s photography which also gave me the opportunity to express myself and communicate with other people.
C: You effortlessly switch between colour and black/white photography and yet to me you manage to maintain the same simple expression regardless. And it is my belief that “simple” is in fact difficult to achieve. In your bio on IG you quote Vincent Van Gogh: “I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” And it is exactly how I perceive your photography as momentarily glimpses of a dream or of a feeling. How would you describe your photographic style? And why did you choose that particular quote? How do you decide on colour vs. black/white?
A: When I started sharing my photos on Instagram almost all of them were black and white. I was so fascinated by the beauty of B&W photography, and that made think that I didn’t need colours in order to complement the photo or to express how I feel. Besides at that moment I was new to the world of photography which means that I didn’t know so much about photo apps or how to create some beautiful coloured pictures. I tried a lot, but the results weren’t always satisfying. Step by step I discovered some great apps, and then I realized that I was able to create coloured pictures and that actually liked it. My love for B&W and colours is equal. I always make two editions of the same photo, one in colour and one in B&W, and my decision is always based on three questions that I ask myself before posting one of the two photos. Which one looks best? How does it make me feel? Do I like the feeling?
Sometimes it’s really hard for me to choose; therefore I decide that it is best if I don’t post any of them.
“I dream my painting and then I paint my dream.” It’s my second favourite quote. When I first read it, I could immediately relate to it. I think that Van Gogh is talking about two kinds of dreams in this quote. The first dream that he mentions is that kind of dreams that we can control or we are aware of , like daydreaming, dreaming of becoming or doing something. The other dream that he mentions is unpredictable, and can’t be controlled; exactly like dreams we dream when are sleeping. What I am trying to say by this is that like Van Gogh I do always imagine how my drawing or how my photo should look like, but as soon as I start drawing or editing a photo, I realize that it is looking different from what I have imagined, therefore the results of my work are always unpredictable.
C: What does photography mean to you? And do you see it as a way to communicate to others?
A: As I mentioned earlier I’m not good at expressing my feelings through words, and in photography a found a second way to this. Photography/ iphoneography helped me to appreciate and learn much more about this little town that I’m living in. after I started photographing I realized that I have always been surrounded by beautiful nature which I didn’t give much of my attention before, because I was so busy studying and so busy doing other things. My passion for photography grew especially after I discovered Instagram. I have learned so much from other people in this great community, and the feedback on my photography has always encouraged me to improve my work.
I think that photography and all sorts of art are ways of communication. Some people have visions, dreams, feelings and messages that they want to share with others, and it’s a great thing that there are some people who choose to do it through art, whether it’s provocative or comforting.
C: It seems to me that you often photograph members of your family. I am not sure if that is correct. Which motives do you prefer to shoot and how do you compose your images? Which of the process do you enjoy the most, the actual photography or the editing process?
A: I love to take pictures of paths, trees and nature in general, but it’s also very important to me to have one or some figures in my photos, because without them I wouldn’t be able to create a story or express who I feel. Therefore I always ask my sisters and brother if they like to be my models, and I’m so glad that they never let me down. They are always willing to cooperate. Light is a very important element in my photography, but most importantly it has to be natural. I always prefer to take my pictures at sunsets or an hour or two before sunset. I just think that the light is perfect and it has a magical colour at that time of day. I love to take my photos from a low angle. Sometimes I have to lie on the ground in order to capture the whole scenery properly.
I can’t tell which of the mentioned process I enjoy the most. I think that I enjoy the actual photography as much as the editing process, but in different ways. I like to have this feeling of excitement when I go out to find locations for my pictures and then when I start photographing. When I edit a picture I get excited about how it’s going to look like once it’s done. And I like the fact that I always discover new ways and new possibilities during the editing process.
C: Do you show your work elsewhere than IG? I.e. do you have a Flickr account or website? Is it important for you to share your photography?
A: Instagram was the first community that I did join. Several months later I made an account on EyeEm. Then I decided to try Streamzoo, but to be honest I didn’t like it. People on Streamzoo were very kind, but I didn’t see pictures that captivated me. There were only few creative people, and it was them who I already was following on Instagram. Therefore I decided to leave Streamzoo. Few months ago I made a Flickr account and every once in awhile I upload photos there. After all no one of these three communities has caught my attention as much as Instagram. I have met a lot of creative, talented and kind people in this great community.
You can say that sharing my work is important to me, because it has become my way to communicate with other people around the world.
C: Where do you find inspiration? From other photographers, music, the arts? I know that you draw. Has that influenced your photography?
A: I am a big admirer of literature and art from the Romantic period. I’m especially inspired by the romantic artist Casper David Friedrich. In almost all of his paintings you will see figures which are standing with their back to the viewer engrossed in the landscape that lies before them. I have always thought that his paintings were so beautiful yet so dark and mysterious.
I don’t think that drawing has an influence on my photography as my drawing style is different from my photography style.
C: Nature seems to take a central part if your photography. Do you live near nature or do you seek it? What does nature mean to you?
A: I love nature; I love the sun, I love the smell of trees, the grass and the rain. I love the wind, and I love the sound of the trees and the tall grass when the wind moves them as if they are trying to tell you to be quiet and listen to them. I’m surrounded by beautiful fields, and I live near a little forest and the beach. I think nature is the perfect place to find inspiration and to clear your mind. Sometimes when I walk in nature I just get fascinated by the beauty that surrounds which makes me forget everything that I worry about for a few minutes.
C: Which apps are your favourites when editing your photography? I believe that we share a love for VSCO app, which gives a nice faded and slightly dreamy look. What is a typical editing process for you and how do you compose your pic? How important is the caption for you in telling the story you want?
A: You are right. I love VSCO and I have been using it a lot lately. The second app that I love a lot is Snapseed and after Snapseed comes Camera+. All of my iPhone photos are taken with Camera+. I always start editing my photos in Snapseed. I adjust the light intensity, the contrast and colour strength. After that I try all of the vintage filters, and when I choose one I save the photo, and then I start editing it in VSCO.
It’s a great thing to be able to create something beautiful, but for me it is very important that my pictures also tell a story. I like to make people wonder about what’s going on in the picture.
C: Do you photograph exclusively with your smart phone? Or do you use a “traditional” camera as well? How do you think the mobile vs. traditional photography discussion is relevant?
A: I do mostly photograph with my iPhone because I always carry it with me, and it is also easy to use. All of my photos on Instagram are taken and edited by iPhone except for six which I took with a camera.
It’s very impressive that an iPhone can produce pictures with an excellent quality, and I’m one of the iPhoneographers who proudly tell people that their pictures are taken and edited by an iPhone. But I think that it really doesn’t matter if you are using a smart phone or a camera. What does matter is to understand how to use the device that you have in a clever and a creative away.
C: I am curious to know. Do you perceive photography as a picture of reality or more as a vision of the person behind the camera? On my part I think that photography is never truly objective or cannot be considered as “the truth”. In some ways it will always be manipulated starting with the photographer’s decision to depict exactly that particular scene.
A: You are right, and I agree with you on that point, but then again, I think that it depends on which form of photography we are talking about here. I believe that there are forms of photography that show moments of reality without manipulation. First there are those pictures that we take of our friends, family, and moments in our life that we always want to remember. There are also documentary photography, photojournalism, street photography and nature photography, that show our world as it is. Hereby I want to say that sometimes the photographer’s choice of a particular moment or a particular scene doesn’t affect the reality that it shows us.
C: I know you are 20 years of age and I am impressed by the maturity that I see in your photography. Where do you see your photography going?
A: Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t thought of that before. Right now I’m enjoying photography a lot and I’m happy that people are enjoying my work too. I think that photography will always be something that I love to do and love to share with others.
C: What is your favourite photograph of your own and can you tell us how it came about and why it is your favourite?
A: Each one of my photos means something to me, so it’s hard for me to choose only one as my favourite. But I will pick one to tell you its story and what it means to me. The photo that you see below is one of first photos that I did post on Instagram.
One day I was walking in our house looking for a location or an idea for a photo, and when I walked by this window an idea immediately come to my mind. I called my sister and I asked her if she could go outside and put her hand on the window. I took several photos, but this was the only one the seemed perfect to me. I remember that I only used PhotoToaster to edit it. The photo looks so simple and the editing process was very simple too, but I was so proud of the final result. It was a great achievement for me back then.
C: If you could go anywhere in the world and shoot anything you like, where and what would it be? And why?
A: There are five places that I would love to visit. First I would go to Italy, and take pictures of the landscapes, the architecture, the streets and the narrow alleys. I have always thought that Japan Australia and Switzerland have breathtaking landscapes, so I hope that I one day get the opportunity to visit these countries and take a lot of pictures there. The fifth place that I want to photograph is a desert. I want to capture the sun there, because the beauty of the sun in the desert fascinates me, and I would also love to take pictures of figures that walk or stand in the middle of the desert.
C: Anything else you want to share with us?
A: I would like to thank you for this opportunity. I have been so excited about this interview, since the day I received the invitation.
Sorry if my English is not perfect. I am still learning
C: Once again many thanks for participating Amal. It is a pleasure getting to know the person behind the poetic and beautiful photos. I look forward to seeing more work from you.
Amals wonderful photography can be found on Instagram under her username @abaa.