Canadian Geographic Photo Club - Interview with Amanda McNaughton

Interview with Amanda McNaughton


Amanda McNaughton lives in Toronto, where she recently graduated from the photography program at Ryerson University. A former intern at Canadian Geographic, Amanda is well on her way to a successful career. Her work is featured on the cover of CG_s January/February 2012 issue. She hopes to one day be able to do wildlife photography, particularly of wolves_but not without studying their behaviours first. _You don_t want to go out and die,_ she laughs, _but if you did, that is one way to go._ Visit her website

Amanda McNaughton

Amanda McNaughton, 23, is a St. Catharines native currently living in Toronto, but her photography career has taken her far outside the confines of central Canada. She has taken her camera all over Europe, as well as various areas in the United States and Canada. She is known for shooting and participating in historical reenactments like those of the War of 1812. (Photo: Jeannette Julich-Howell)

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Q Why did you choose to get into photography as a career?

AIt was really a natural progression. I was on a family trip in Vancouver and we drove down to Seattle, and I had just finished my first high school class in photography. I started taking snapshots of really beautiful scenery I saw, and when I got home I was at Black's Photography and couldn't wait to see the four-by-six prints. There was a bench immediately outside of the Black's store and that was where I discovered my dream. I saw these beautiful pictures and decided I was supposed to be doing photography'it was a light bulb moment.

Q A lot of your photos capture people or animals in natural settings. What advantages (or disadvantages) come with this territory?

AIn terms of advantages especially being in natural habitats it's very fluid. I'm very inspired by what I see. People and animals are the most comfortable in natural settings, and they add an element of surprise. It's something I wouldn't have been able to pre-sync. It's what I love the most.

The weather can be a disadvantage. It can lend itself in good or bad ways though. For my thesis, I was photographing horses and it ended up snowing and I thought, 'Oh I should just cancel the shoot,' but in the end, the shots were amazing. The weather made the horse's coat a beautiful, playful texture that I fell in love with. What I thought was negative actually ended up being a critical moment for the work.

QYou seem to have an interest in history, based on your range of work done with photographing reenactments. What intrigues you about this type of photography?

AReenactors have this beautiful thing about them' they portray a certain image of what would have been at that time. The reenactors stay in character the whole time, which I don't think many people realize. When the doors close down, the people still stay in that mode, and it's such a unique surrounding. My boyfriend (a fellow actor) and I often say it's like a time portal into another life. I started photographing everything I saw at these reeanactments. This whole "time portal" aspect is really appealing to me, along with the fact that it's a natural habitat, but completely different at the same time.

QWhat has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

AI haven't had a proudest moment yet and I'm still striving for that. I like to keep myself moving forward.

QIf you could photograph any event (or person) in history, what would it be and why?

AFrom reenactment research and characters I've been focusing on, there's this girl her name was Mary Jemison. Her time period was 1743 to 1833, and she was a woman who was captured in the French and Indian War. She was an Irish descendant who was captured and assimilated into Native culture. It's a really unique situation that not everyone's aware of. Back then, during the time of battle, the family had the option to take a captive and kill them, or adopt them to replace the child that was lost. Mary was captured, but was kept and assimilated into the culture, and later she had the chance to go back to Europe but decided to stay with the Natives instead. I imagine this girl with probably strawberry blonde hair and white, white skin surrounded in this Native camp, and that would be the best, best portrait. That would be a really unique experience. I would love to shuttle back for that.

QWhat sets your photos apart from other professionals work?

AI try to fade into my subject's world and become a part of it. This enables me to take natural, honest images but also to play with the scene in a visual way without restriction. It's important to me to not be "that photographer standing in the middle of field," particularly so in living-history events. I get that shot without the publicity, and with the respect of that environment.


1 comment

Sticks posted 2017-01-31 3:41pm

All the best, and look out for the critters in the woods! Stay safe :) ...but have fun! Congratulations on yer engagement. We wish you many years of happiness together.


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