Amy Lombard is a photographer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Philadelphia, Lombard moved to New York in 2008 to pursue her BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology where she graduated in 2012. As a documentary photographer, her work largely examines the phenomenons and personalities that make up American culture. Her bold and colorful work has landed her clients from the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, VICE, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, T Magazine, M Le Monde, TIME, WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, Gawker, Refinery29 to Samsung, Facebook, Barneys and Swatch among many others. In her project “Doggies and Tiaras” Lombard captures moments inside the world of the dog fashion scene – which includes (but is not limited to) beauty pageants, proms, fashion shows, parties, and more. Check out the interview below and visit her website www.amylombard.com.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I’ll opt for one word: bold.
Whom do you look up to?
My mom and my friend Suzanne Donaldson. My mom is the most caring woman on the planet and has shaped the person I am today. She’s also the one who taught me to go after what I want. I met Suzanne a year ago and I generally think she’s just one of the coolest people, and clearly everyone else does because when we walk on the street together someone is always stopping her! She worked as Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio manager to more recently Photo Director at Glamour and other publications. I work with her on shoots for her new venture, Mrs. Sizzle, which is creative consulting/branding for people who love animals. She never sits still and has such an extraordinary vision.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
I am both really stubborn and have a lot of pride, two traits that are not admirable, but when it came to my career if I said I was going to do something that meant I had to do it. Case in point: When I was 15 or 16 I created a list of career goals I wanted to accomplish—I had no specific time frame for this, mind you—but I checked every box on that list at the age of 23. As for specific personalities and individuals, I wouldn’t say it was any one person, but I think we’re all products of our experiences. Everything you do and everyone you meet is going to affect your work and your life in one way or another. I think the biggest influence in my way of thinking was probably moving to New York City at the age of eighteen, truthfully. This city will spit you out and make you feel like shit. Everything moves so quickly and you’re surrounded by so many people doing extraordinary things. It’s not the city you move to sit on your ass. Just being in this environment set my sense of ambition into overdrive—and now I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.
What made you want to become a photographer?
My grandma always carried around a point and shoot camera that I would steal from her at family parties. Whenever she got the camera back it would have unexpected shots of uncooked food, details on ornaments, and photos of my cousins not posing at all — essentially the opposite of what you’d want in family photographs. I think that this was the very beginning for me, I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t pick up a camera again until I was 15. I enrolled in an urban photo class at Moore and totally hated it. I, for whatever reason, signed up for another photo class at Tyler School of Art. While on the bus through North Philly I met a film student who basically taught me that everyone had a story. It was a moment that really stuck with me and is the reason that made me want to become a photographer.
What was your favourite project and why?
They are like my nonexistent children, how can I pick a favorite?! I don’t have one, but I’m very into my most recent project I’m working on now as part of VSCO’s Artist Initiative. I’m working on a longterm project on meetups, where people are congregating from the internet around mutual interests. I feel like everything that I’ve ever photographed has led me to this project.
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is seeing the world in a unique and imaginative way.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Commit to it if that’s what you really want. It’s not for people who
What’s your personal motto?
My motto when I’m feeling down or having a shy moment is I tell myself: Stop being a baby bitch. Get shit done. Yes, I have to basically scream and curse at myself internally to get that extra boost to get me going.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as a photographer?
Getting people to take me seriously. I’m a documentary photographer but I’m not documenting conflict or poverty—I’m documenting American culture and the things, people and places that make up our lives. That said, when it comes to things like dog beauty pageants (or whatever I’m photographing on any given week), people don’t always see the work I make as ‘important’ or take it seriously. I think that’s started to change though. I think people are starting to “get” it.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
When I was 21 I was an editor at TIME magazine, so I don’t feel like mentally I was that far off from where I am now. It was a period in my life where I was wondering if my life was taking a different path than what I had envisioned. I guess I wish I could just tell my 21 year old self to sit tight, because you’re doing all the right things and the things I was doing at that point have been instrumental to what I’m doing now.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for photography?
Hell no. This is why I exist.
All images © Amy Lombard