Amy Chen: Colorful Creations

ADC Member loves to "capture a moment in time and preserve it forever."

It’s Photography Month here on the ADC Blog, a chance to showcase the shutterbugs within the ADC community, sharing both their work and their stories. Photographers aren’t the biggest segment of creatives amongst ADC Members, but their passion more than makes up for their numbers. Whether they’re veteran shutterbugs, newcomers just starting to make a living, or just people who love to shoot on the side.

Our next featured ADC Member is a an artist who balances her time on both sides of the Hudson, and makes photography a part of her larger design oeuvre.

amy_chen_headshotAMY CHEN
Graphic Designer/Photographer/Prop Stylist
New York/New Jersey



How old were you when you became interested in photography? How did that interest come about, and how was it fostered?

I’ve been interested in taking photos ever since I was a little kid. I remember always being excited to take photos on disposable cameras during family trips to the zoo or the beach. In middle school, I got my first “digital camera” and in high school I got my first DSLR (which I still use to this day). I went away to college to study graphic design, but photography still remained a big creative passion of mine. Since graduating (in May 2014), I have been able to devote more time to exploring photography – and now I offer it as a service to clients alongside my graphic design.

What type of photography would you say is your specialty, and how did it come to be your specialty? Can one be transient — starting in one area of photography but evolving into another?

Funny that you ask this question – because I consider multiple “types” of photography as my specialty. I’m really into shooting fashion photography/portraits, but I also love shooting colorful flat lay/still life shots (particularly food) as well – and they are so different from one another! I also like to shoot landscapes – but that is usually for fun, and not for client work. I definitely think photographers can be transient – and as you grow as a creative in any field, I think your style is bound to change/evolve too.

Define your photographic style in a single sentence.

My photographic style is one that reflects my graphic design background as I am always highly conscious of composition, color combinations, textures, and patterns.

What’s your favorite camera to shoot with? What’s so awesome about it?

I shoot with a Nikon D90, which is definitely not the fanciest nor the most expensive camera – but I have had it ever since high school. It’s the only camera that I own, and I’ve grown to love it and make it work.

What is the hardest part about making a living as a photographer? Any advice on how to overcome that challenge?

The hardest part about making a living as a photographer is finding people who are willing to pay you for what you’re worth. I can’t tell you how many times people have inquired about doing a shoot together – but then go running for the hills as soon as the words “budget” or “rate” are mentioned. It’s really sad, and in general just pisses me off that so many people have this expectation that photographers (or creatives in general) will do work for free. My advice for this challenge is to stand up for what you’re worth. If they aren’t willing to invest in you, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not investing in them.

“I can’t tell you how many times people have inquired about doing a shoot together – but then go running for the hills as soon as the words “budget” or “rate” are mentioned.”

Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?

This is a series of food styling photos that I created that I’m really proud of. Since graduating from school, I’ve explored my “culinary side” a whole lot more and have really come to love trying out new recipes, styling food, and then ultimately photographing it. I’m always adding to this series, and it’s an ongoing personal project of mine!

What would be your dream client/project/collaboration?

My dream client would probably have to be Target. I love the colorful aesthetic of their Instagram feed, and they have collaborated with some of my favorite photographers over the last year or so. Also, the fact that Target carries a variety of products – apparel, food, home decor, etc. caters to my multiple interests. I think it’d be a ton of fun to create a series of images with them!

Nowadays everyone has ‘cameras’ in their pockets and Instagram on their phones. How has this changed the photography game? How has this changed your photography game?

It’s crazy how easy it is to take a photo and share it with the world nowadays! It’s almost too easy, and I even admit that I’m guilty of using my own phone over my DSLR more often than not. I love that I have my phone with me at all times – because sometimes I don’t want to carry my DSLR. I personally love the Instagram community – as it’s connected me with so many other photographers and creatives – and allows me to share photos on a daily basis. Last year, I was featured as one of Instagram’s suggested users – and that has helped grow my audience immensely. Without Instagram, I don’t think I would have had the chance to work with some of the brands and clients that I have.

“Without Instagram, I don’t think I would have had the chance to work with some of the brands and clients that I have.”

“So, you’re a photographer?” What’s the strangest question you’ve received when someone learned what you do?

People always ask me “how do you find clients?” I think it really baffles non-creatives that people can get paid for their photography.. especially because of the evolving “iPhoneography” culture nowadays.

What are your other creative outlets and sources of inspiration?

I draw inspiration from so many other creative outlets. I love going to museums and galleries. I love street art. I love making and eating food. I love nature and hiking. I love to write. There’s not much about this crazy life that I don’t love. Inspiration is everywhere!

Fill in the blank: “When I’m not shooting, I am…”

“…I am a graphic designer. I am also an adventure seeker, foodie, and ‘color hunter’.”

Which professional photographers do you look up to, whether from afar or as mentors?

Stephanie Gonot: I admire everything about Stephanie Gonot’s work – her eye for color, her interest in fashion subjects, and her love for food. She would be a dream to collaborate with!

Joe Greer: Joe takes wonderful portrait and landscape photography, and I love following along with his adventures on Instagram. His editing style is very different than mine, but I find it to be a breath of fresh air.

Brandon Stanton: Brandon runs the ongoing project “Humans of New York” – where he photographs portraits of different individuals in New York. It takes so much courage to go up to strangers and ask them to take their picture — and I’m so glad that Brandon has that courage. I love reading the stories behind all of the faces.

When all is said and done, what is it about being a photographer that gets you up in the morning and drives your passion?

I love that photographers have the ability to capture a moment in time and preserve it forever.

Photography Month takes place throughout March, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!