Name: Amber Ortolano
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Current town: Lowville, New York
Film and/or Digital: Digital
First camera: Small Pentax SLR
Current camera: Nikon D5000
How long have you been taking photographs?
I have been taking photographs for about three years, since I was 12 to be exact!
Thoughts about first images ever taken, describe them?
My first images weren’t super thought-out, of course. But one photography I remember taking most vividly was when I was sitting on the steps of my sidewalk (I was 12 at the time), and I had this tin cup, filled with those little leaf type things that fly when you throw them (I don’t know the name, hahah), and I kept throwing them out of the cup, and I kept doing that until I caught them flying. I actually don’t have that image anymore, but I always remember that.
What do you see when you look at your work now?
I immediately go into the photo, which is really like walking into my brain, and I have an overwhelming amount of feelings, ranging from happiness to sadness to everything in between. That may sound a bit odd, seeing as they’re my own photos, but I don’t know. It really isn’t that odd, I’m just feeling what I felt as I was creating them.
What do you hope others will see, if anything? Their experience?
I hope people see themselves. Each one of my photos is a small moment, and they will all add up to one life, and I really hope people see that; it’s not just about being beautiful or pleasing to the eye, I want people to feel a rush of feelings, as if their whole life is flashing before them.
What do you look for in an image? What makes a great photograph for you?
I look for a fleeting moment or feeling. Life is very fragile, and I feel like photography really shows that. A great photograph makes me feel something, whether it is inspiration or the feeling to cry, or any feeling, really. When an image makes me want to cry, you know it’s great.
There are so so many; Paolo Roversi, Julia Hetta, Paulina Surys, Tara Niami, Mike Baily Gates, Lauren Poor, Sarah Moon, Chadwick Tyler, David Hamilton, Eleanor Hardwick, Erica Joy, Denis Grunstein, Deborah Turbeville, Egon Schiele, Jacqueline Riman, Natalie Kucken, Elijah Majeski, Laurence Philomene, Maja Malou, Robert Moses Joyce, Allison Scarpulla, Samuel Pritzker, Sibylle Bergemann, Wendy Bevan, William Eggleston, Ellen Rogers . . . the list goes on!
Favorite places online?
I use etsy to buy clothes for my shoots/films, and I use tumblr all the time to blog and look for inspiration!
Young photographers who most inspire you now?
A lot of them are in my list of favorite artists. For example: Natalie Kucken, who is a lovely lovely friend of mine, and is so extremely talented, oh, goodness. Elijah Majeski, another friend, is so, so talented, I love the way he thinks and everything. There are so many—just refer to everyone in my list above, and you’ll instantly be inspired.
Artist’s playlist: 11 tracks from Perfume Genius, Glasser, Magic Kids, Gardens & Villa, Small Black, Still Corners, Twin Sister, Thieves Like Us, Washed Out, Craft Spells, Lana del Rey, all here.
Talk about Hallucinations, your first book?
I started thinking about making a book a year or two ago, and I finally started to make it in June of this year. It took ’til September, being that I had to take new photos, and I was very precise about them flowing with each other, etc, etc. But I’m very happy with the outcome: it’s exactly how I wanted it to look!
What did you learn from that first book? And do you have another in the works?
When I first published the book, I was worried no one would see it or want to buy it, but I got a lot of messages from people saying how they wish they could buy it, etc, etc. It actually kind of shocked me at first! I plan on making a new book sometime in the future, and it will be much different, but still me. I just want to show how much I have grown since making the book.
Beyond that, where do you want to take your photography, or vice versa?
I want do amazing things, and I feel like I’m on my way there. I have been focusing more on my film/cinematography recently, and I am currently planning a film for next year. I want to make brilliant photographs and films that make you feel every emotion possible. I’m bad at explaining myself, but I just really want to do incredible things with my life.