Updated: Apr 18, 2020

"I’ve learned to treat people with utmost respect and support because that’s the kind of energy I want to receive."

photo of ella hiles

When looking at photographer Amanda Garazin’s Instagram @amandagarazin, the first thing you probably would notice is the creativity in every one of her posts, but still unified through moody, brown tones that are prevalent through every picture. Her creativity, vision, and technique are far beyond her years, evidence of the time and hard work that she puts into her practice. However, her maturity isn’t just limited to her photography but is evident through her outlook on life as well.

Outside of photography, Amanda’s life is like many others her age. Born and raised in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb located about 30 miles west of Chicago, Amanda is entering her freshman year of High School this August. She is a plays club volleyball, takes advanced classes, and has lots of homework. Trying to balance school, sports and photography meant she had to make sacrifices. “Most afternoons that meant no shooting because I’d have volleyball or something else, then homework. I’d mostly shoot on the weekends and make sure to plan ahead shoots on weekdays I knew I had free because those come very few and far between.” Although she had a lot going on, she knew how to deal with stress pretty well. “I did deal with some stress this school year, but I worked through it just by having my dad help me with my schoolwork (he is a teacher) and I tried to do activities I enjoyed as much as possible to try to have fun and forget my stress!”

Despite being only fourteen, Amanda’s skill has been years in the making. “I first got into photography when I was 11 after my sister gave me her camera. I started taking photos of my friends for fun, and I started seeing highly editorial photos in magazines and thought ‘I want to do THAT someday!’ and here I am now!” Her motivation to continue is driven by what she sees from other photographers. “What inspires me to continue is the other creatives on this platform that succeed and create beautiful work. I always admire those who work so hard for what they have achieved.”

photo of ella hiles

Amanda’s ambition also plays into the kind of work she makes. “I love getting out of my comfort zone and trying new ideas (I did an underwater shoot with my phone a few days ago, something I never thought possible for myself). I also get a lot of inspiration from other photographers here on Instagram and Pinterest, as well as music covers.”

When seeing her work, it is evident that Amanda isn’t afraid to go outside of the box in her subject matter and technique, even when it sparks some controversy. “There are many occasions when I’ve felt overwhelming support, and I’m so grateful for my family here on Instagram. I’ve made many friends from all around the world who support me every time I post a new photo which blows my mind!! there was one instance a few months ago where someone called my photo disgusting and I’ll admit I was pretty discouraged. However, people started to tell that commenter that they were being rude and how wrong they were (again, so grateful for my family here on Instagram.) I don’t like things like those get to me as much because I know how much support weighs out the negative.”

Although Amanda’s age makes her work that much more impressive, it has also been the cause for some difficulty as well. “I have felt at a disadvantage for many years. Over time some people have underestimated me because of my age, but the vast majority of professionals on this platform treat me with the utmost respect, as they know I’m more than just my young age. Just this past week, I was DMng with one of my favorite photographers (whose name I will not divulge) who lives in Los Angeles, as I’m leaving for a family vacation to LA on Thursday. We talked about meeting up when I was there, and she expressed interest and excitement in meeting me and shooting with me. We discussed where we would shoot and how we’d get there. The minute I mentioned I couldn’t drive yet, she stopped reading and replying to my DMs altogether. She completely ghosted me. Although it still hurts and I’m holding out hope she will still respond, I realized that was very low of her and I just have to move on.”

photo of ella hiles

Despite some of her more negative experiences, Amanda takes a mature outlook and turns it into a means for spreading positivity. “Thus far I’ve learned to treat people with utmost respect and support because that’s the kind of energy I want to receive. I know what it’s like to be so proud of something and not have it perform well or to receive negative energy for it, and I never want to make another human feel that way. I definitely live by the motto ‘treat people the way you want to be treated.’ When working with people in photography, I always adapt to their needs and I never make them do something that they are uncomfortable with. I highly respect the model’s preferences and I would never want to make them do something that they don’t want to do. In general life, I do the same. My parents always told me that how you treat people is a reflection of yourself, and I don’t want to be thought of as rude or inconsiderate person. I like to think that I have manners and I am respectful towards people of all age, race gender.”

Amanda also wants to encourage people who have creative interests to pursue them. “I’d tell someone interested in photography to just always shoot! that will help you improve rapidly. also, save up and spend money wisely on started lenses like the 50mm and editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop.”

Amanda’s success thus far has not come without struggle, but her ability to maturely handle situations is very impressive. Amanda isn’t afraid to be honest, whether through communicating with people or through her creative ideas in her work. With these traits, her potential to continue to be successful through her creative pursuits is inevitable.

photo of zoe shores-navata

You can check out more of Amanda's work here:

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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