My name is Amanda Stuart. I have always loved photography but it wasn’t until 2015 that I could take it up seriously. Before that time, work and family commitments, as well as a lack of money were all major obstacles.
In 2015 I attended a live-in workshop in France, while my partner was off learning French; it opened my eyes and ignited my love of photography.
During that week I had the opportunity to photograph the French landscape and to enjoy my first taste of street photography, taking candid photos in local markets – I was hooked.
My first camera was an Olympus OMD E5. It’s an excellent camera but it wasn’t right for me as the controls felt small and the menus too challenging. I was advised to buy a Fuji camera – it was the best advice!
I live on the Mornington Peninsula so I don’t have to travel far to take photos that appeal to me. It’s a ten minute walk to the bay and ocean beaches.
In recent years I have spent many holidays on Phillip Island and at Bright in North East Victoria, and I’ve also stayed at O’Reilly’s in the rainforest of New South Wales, photographing birds and nature.
While I have chosen the landscape genre for ShotKit, I love street photography and portraiture as well and in all honesty, most of my photos are seascapes.
I have been offered a number of opportunities on the Peninsula for photographing events, including a local chamber orchestra’s concerts, held three times a year. I have learnt a great deal through photographing the musicians in rehearsal.
One of the local community centres holds four art shows a year and I am always asked to take photos on opening night.
I have to admit to being a lazy photographer. I like to head out with one camera and one or two lenses and that’s all. I left my run a bit late with photography and nowadays I’m hesitant to climb on slippery rocks or hike long distances.
The time in isolation as a result of Covid19 has been wonderful for me; without my usual commitments, I’ve had many more hours in which to take photos. I head out for sunrise several times a week.
At my local beach, there are always seabirds and there were twelve black swans for the first month of lockdown. Sadly they have moved on but they did add to my images while they were there.
I aim to keep my photos true to nature, to what I observe – whether it be a bird, a landscape or people. I love the fact that photography gets me out into nature, every day. Sometimes I don’t feel the need to photograph, but simply to appreciate the beauty of nature; it’s often the anticipation of capturing a good photo that propels me out.
In 2019 I had my own exhibition, ‘Nine Men: Nine Lives’, which featured nine very different men. I interviewed each of them to get a story – though not their whole life story. Each man seemed to know what that story would be. I recorded them and my greatest challenge was to edit approximately 8,000 words down to 800. I created a poster and separate portrait for each one.
To be honest, I don’t know how I came up with the idea, but the exhibition was well received and I enjoyed the experience, apart from a few stressful moments. The most fulfilling aspect was the fact that it meant a great deal to the nine men to be included in the exhibition; one man described it as a ‘very therapeutic experience’.
Following the opening at the Sorrento Activity Centre, I was invited to display it at the Mornington Gallery Foyer display area for two months.
Fujifilm X-T2 – This camera changed how I felt about photography. I have used it for landscape, portrait and street photography. From the first time I held it, I loved everything about it. Compared with the Olympus, it was so simple to use and I really like its weight.
Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 – An excellent, all-round versatile lens, which I have on my camera most of the time. At the beach in the early morning, I often photograph birds in flight and manage to get a sharp photo surprisingly often.
Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 – This is the lens I take with me if I’m going for a long walk and have no idea what I will be photographing. It’s incredibly sharp, is quite light and small and it creates beautiful bokeh. This is the lens I take with me to Melbourne if I’m planning to take street shots.
Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 – A superb portrait lens. It is really sharp and also produces lovely bokeh. I use this for all my portrait photos.
Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 – A light and tiny lens, which I bought because it was very cheap and is convenient whenever weight is an issue.
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 – My longest zoom lens but in fact, it’s not overly heavy – I find it’s really sharp even at 200mm. It was also affordable and good value.
Benro Tripod – I have to confess I hate tripods and often look for a pier, a tree or anything that doesn’t have multiple legs!
Godox V350-F – Another confession – I’m just learning how to use it but I’m improving. I like to take portraits in natural light, wherever possible.
It’s no wonder I couldn’t afford to take up photography earlier!