Member Moment: Amanda Zeilinger

Film Club
Amanda Zeilinger is a Film Club Member who shared a photo project she has been working on titled, "Speck Series." This week we interviewed her to learn more about the project and to share her images with the community. Scroll down to see it all!

photograph collage of man fishing on the beach

image of foggy subject on beach

PL: What got you interested in photography?

AZ: When I was maybe 7 years old, I actually won my first little point-and-shoot digital camera in a raffle. I remember taking it out only for family vacations and I’m sad to say I have zero clue where those photos, or that camera, are now. In 4th grade our teacher made it mandatory for us to bring a disposable camera on our field trips, and then in 6th grade I joined the school’s photo club where I learned the very basics of digital photography. That coincided with the time when I really believed in magic, and so the idea that I could freeze time with a camera and revisit those memories felt especially precious. In 9th grade when I was able to take my first film photo class, I fell in love with the physical process of developing film and reworking photos in the darkroom, and it all kept going from there. It definitely helped that my photo professors were always so passionate about what they did, their energy was contagious.  

image of people under waterfall

image of person hiking in mountain range

PL: When taking pictures, what are some objects or elements or feelings within a scene that inspire you to take a photo?

AZ: Outside of “Speck Series,” I love photographing people as they’re moving or telling a story, and then layering those photographs on top of each other to show the passage of time or motion sequence in a single image. I like to make photos that make me feel calm and to share those with people, so I’m drawn to the blurred effect that comes from long-exposure of objects or people in motion, a dog’s playfulness, large expanses of skies, and collage of nature scenes.

photograph of girl walking on beach

photograph of elderly woman at the beach

PL: Some of your photos seem to capture beach scenes. What do you enjoy about this type of photography and what is challenging about it?

AZ: Photographing people at the beach is so interesting to me because of the different social norms that exist there, like how it’s socially acceptable to laze around all day or wear basically anything. The challenging part comes when there’s a photo of someone I really want to get because the composition of where they are or what they’re doing is just perfect, but I also want to respect their privacy - even though it’s a public place. At beaches specifically, I always try to keep my distance and choose to show photos where people can retain their anonymity. Maybe I’ll change that in the future, but right now that’s what makes me feel comfortable.

photograph of family walking on the ocean city boardwalk with fog

image of girl biking on ocean city boardwalk in the fog

PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?

AZ: I think my favorite is the one of the girl on the bike on the Ocean City boardwalk. That day was as foggy as it looks, and I think I lucked out with the soft lighting. I also love that it’s just clear enough to read the salt water taffy sign, it just feels nostalgic to me.

photograph of grand canyon and blue sky

photograph of girl in empty mountain range

PL: Can you tell us more about the project and what inspired you to start it?

AZ: In December of 2019, my family took a trip to the Grand Canyon where I took the first photos that fit into “Speck Series.” In the couple years before then I was used to taking portraits of people I knew, up close and personal, so I wanted to challenge myself and experiment with doing the opposite - photographing strangers and including lots of negative space in compositions. Then in 2020 when we were all isolating and social-distancing, photographing strangers in nature from afar happened to be a healthy way to practice photography, so I kept going.

photograph of man at beach being hit by wave

image of trees in snow

PL: Do you have any goals or ideas of how you want to grow this collection of photographs?

AZ: I definitely want to continue this project whenever I’m traveling, I don’t think it’ll ever be “done.” It’s fun for me to have this project going on in the background, because now when I have my camera with me, I’m thinking, “Can something I see today be a part of Speck Series?” Working on expanding the collection helps me look for places and compositions I wouldn’t have thought to look for without it.

image of dog sleds in snow
image of people on top of mountain
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