The challenge of translating her surroundings into imagery: Interview with Amanda Aitken


We had a chance to peek into Amanda Aitken‘s life and learn about the makings of her stunning landscape and architectural photography shoots. After 17 years in the photography business, Amanda still feels the same passion and drive for “interpreting her subject in the most creative and inspirational way.” It is no surprise that her pictures exceed expectations as she tackles the difficult balance of capturing the subject’s story, the atmosphere, purpose, and intent of the material in a beautiful photo. Read more about Amanda and her work below.

Behind the scenes with Amanda Aitken

Production Paradise: Where do you think your interest, first in old film photography, come from and how has it affected your work now?

Amanda Aitken: When I was 14 yrs old I started working in my parents photo lab/camera shop, processing film and reading the camera manuals back to back. I became fascinated with light – how colour and exposure is interpreted, and naturally opted for photography at high school. I would take on any photographic project I could, one of my earliest projects had me hanging out an Army Iroquoi helicopter for 2 days documenting a search and rescue drill held by the NZ Police. I was hooked and knew that photography was my pathway. Eight years in labs gave me sound knowledge of the technical foundations of photography – behind the camera and also the final image. The digital shift luckily happened before I invested in my gear. But I’ll always treasure the experience of shooting film while travelling, to me it has a nostalgic quality. It also helped me with skill and confidence to pull off a shot without seeing it until days later. Today my digital work is a lot different to film, but the appreciation and patience is still present.

Production Paradise: What is it about interior and exterior photography appeals to you?

Amanda Aitken: I love the challenge of translating my surroundings into imagery. I’m attracted to the beauty of form and light in architectural spaces. As most people know, there are so many ways you can shoot a subject, you need to know what your angle is and how you intend to portray what you’re shooting. The story, the atmosphere, the subject purpose, the intent of the material – these things are all taken into consideration and balanced according to the clients brief. I love collaboration and working with clients who have such passion for their projects which are often years in the making. It’s an inspiring and motivating creative process.

Production Paradise: Looking at your past work, you have shot everything from homes to hotels to restaurants, what is your absolute favourite type of location?

Amanda Aitken: I’ve come across some amazing landscapes while travelling – both natural and urban – with culture-rich people who have a real connection to their surroundings. On a personal level I’d love to go back and document these places, as well as locations here in New Zealand that illustrate the story and essence of the connection between people and their environment. Commercially – my favourite location would be anything rich with texture in its landscape and materials, with loads of playful light. That would put me in my creative zone for days!

Amanda Aitken

Production Paradise: What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?

Amanda Aitken: As a mum to two young girls, renovator of 3 family homes (doing most of the work ourselves), and an employer to Theresa, my assistant of 4 years, I think with all things considered, creating and maintaining a successful and profitable business is my biggest achievement. I have fantastic family support, a top assistant and loyal clients whom I’m extremely grateful for.

Production Paradise: You mostly specialise in still photography, but we have also seen some cinemagraph and video work in your portfolio. Does this come from your own interest to explore the media or mostly because of the clients’ requests? Do you think you will focus more on motion in the future?

Amanda Aitken: Adding the element of movement to my work really appeals to me, as with putting together a production which tells the story in a much more dynamic way. Composition and light are skills I’ve been able to transfer, and since deciding to invest in motion 4 years ago, I have had a massive (and enjoyable!) learning curve with sound and movement, as well as accumulated all the equipment needed. My assistant Theresa has experience working in Berlin at a TVC production agency, and is an excellent second shooter and editor. We’ve both signed up to the local film association and been involved in a few short films, one of which I was Director of Photography. It’s really all about broadening my mind and discovering opportunities. I’m definitely hoping to do more commercial video in the future.

Cinemagraphs – I love the concept! They have the attraction of motion, but minimal production, and the result is effective and curious. No one has asked for one yet, but I’m hoping to do more anyway – just because they’re fun.

Production Paradise: You’ve had a long and successful career in photography. Have you noticed any trends happening right now that you are seeing or do you think it has remained stable throughout the years?

Amanda Aitken: For sure it’s changed in my time, mostly due to social media – imagery has a much higher turnover. Demand for more content – and various forms of content – has increased. People are far more savvy to recognise a good image, so I don’t think professional photographers should feel threatened by the amount and often quite good amateur work that’s out there. But rather treat it as motivation to be innovative and push the boundaries. The industry is always changing – we need to embrace the changes that we choose to adopt, and enjoy the journey.

Production Paradise: Have you got any projects planned right now or in the future? Do you have any big projects planned?

Amanda Aitken: Currently I’m pursuing more work in the resort/hotel industry, which I’m really excited about. It covers all aspects of photography that I love – architecture, interiors, lifestyle, hospitality and landscape.

Production Paradise: Lastly, what are the advantages you have experienced as a member of Production Paradise?

Amanda Aitken: The exposure from the Spotlight and Showcase features is great – the analytics prove that it works. I’m featured amongst some really high caliber professionals, which again, gives me motivation and inspiration to keep improving and striving to take my work up another notch.

Special thanks to Amanda Aitken for taking the time to share her story with us and hope you enjoyed reading the story. For more images visit Amanda’s website or her profile page on Production Paradise. We wish Amanda all the best in the future.

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