Through the View Finder of Artistic and Photographic Brilliance with Ama Lea
by Jay Kay of the Horror Happens Radio Show
Very honored to speak with you! So happy you could take some time to discuss your body of work and growth as a professional in the genre. What got your into photography and what was the first camera and subject you captured on film?
I actually got into photography and film in a weird way. I grew up in Maine and there wasn’t much to do. The closest mall or movie theater was 45 minutes away so kids really had to be creative. I really have to credit going through my grandfather’s stuff for my intro to both. When I was 13 I borrowed his camcorder… one of those old ones that sits on you should and takes a full size VHS tape. Some friends and I made a movie called “The Bucksport Sasquatch Project” which you can really only imagine was influenced by the Blair Witch haha! We went around our town asking locals about the legend of the Sasquatch (which didn’t exist). But some people really bought into it and had crazy stories. I started editing back and forth between two VCRS. That was probably my favorite pass time growing up. After that when I was about 17, I borrowed his old Pentax K1000, stole a wedding dress from a thrift store and spray painted it black and made my friend wear it around a cemetery. My first role of film was a crappy c-41 process black and white (which is basically a very green toned black and white look). I was hooked though. I already had a full scholarship to go to college for Music Theater. I went for one semester, dropped out and applied for photography school.
Why jump into the horror genre with photography and now filmmaking? Tell us about your projects coming out?
I’ve been a horror fan since I was probably four years old. I watched Monster Squad on repeat until the lady at the video store gave my family the copy. I’ve always wanted to be involved in the genre.
What’s been some of your favorite subjects to shoot in and out of the genre?
If you look at my work, you can see I’ve shot with Danielle Harris a lot. She’s amazing. I love working with her. Also Roger Corman and Wes Craven (May he rest in peace) were absolute inspirations.
Take us into the prep of a photo shoot for a magazine cover? Does it differ from music to fashion to cars to horror and more?
Honestly, it’s a little crazy. I brainstorm a lot. I start putting together “inspiration folders” as I like to call them on my computer. If you could see my computer, it looks like such a fuckin mess. The whole screen is covered with my weird little folders. Anyway, I do that and then I write like a long essay about why we should do my concept with the images backing it up, sometimes doodles I’ve made of layouts. You can just ask Chris Alexander, he’s gotten a million of these. But it’s hard to say no to someone who’s super prepared. I do everything myself. I don’t have a prep crew. So I scout locations, pick up or make props, come up with all the art direction myself. The day of the shoot I of course of a full styling team for the subject. It’s pretty much the same no matter what genre, only the amount of blood varies. Haha.
How cool is it to shoot horror magazine covers like Fangoria and such?
It’s so awesome! I remember when I was a kid and I saw one of the Friday the 13th movies and Fangoria was very much featured in it. That was my first exposure and it seemed so cool. I’ve gotten to do some shoots that have become classics in the history of the magazine and I’m incredibly thankful and humbled by that.
Where does your heart lie with photography, any particular focus you are more challenged by and what does your portfolio start with?
I love shooting fashion. I love high concepts. I think traditional commercial work is challenging for me because I find it boring. Honestly anything with people and storytelling is really what floats my boat.
What are you shooting with and what has been your favorite camera over your career?
I am a Canon shooter and I prefer Nikon and Zeiss glass. I have a ton of cameras though- Holgas, 8x10s, 645s, Polaroid’s, etc. I love experimenting. I have so much weird stuff that never makes its way into the public eye. As for film making I am currently shooting with the Sony A7S and loving it but as most, I drool over the Alexa.
You have a distinctive eye and creative feel in all of your work at Amaleaphoto.com, talk about Women in Horror and the importance of this movement?
You know, it’s not just Women in Horror… It’s Women in Film. There is abundance of misogyny in the industry and unfortunately it has found a warm cozy little nook to nest itself in the Sci Fi/Horror genres. Women getting work and getting the chance to realize our vision is just as important as the opposite sex. The Women in Horror movement has really created a voice and brought awareness to this and for that I’m incredibly grateful. Not only has it given me a place but it’s let me meet and collaborate with some really amazing ladies.
Where can they find out more?
I am not very good at the internet but you can find me at www.AmaLeaPhoto.com