ALTHOUGH SHE HAD a degree in photography and worked in and
around the industry—as an assistant, printer and retoucher, among
other jobs—Amanda Ringstad had a hard time envisioning herself as
a professional photographer until she plugged into a community of
creative people who offered advice, encouragement and opportunities
to collaborate. She’d worked on personal still life projects “getting my
lighting down,” she recalls. But she’d kept her work mostly to herself.
Through a retouching gig for Jill Wenger, who was establishing fashion
retail brand Totokaelo, Ringstad met Seattle-area photographers,
industrial designers and other creatives. “I would ask them advice and
they would support me,” she recalls. As part of this community, she
collaborated on projects and worked on her portfolio. In 2013, she met
her agent, Maria Bianco, who helped Ringstad get her first commercial
assignments and encouraged her to go to New York to show her book.
Working for friends early on helped Ringstad develop a
noncommercial, conceptual and experimental approach to still life.
She likes to take an object and “make it look like something new or
different,” and gets “excited about trying out new lighting techniques,”
even making her modifiers. She’s also into gels, and working with the
emotive quality of color. When she’s excited about an image, viewers
respond. “I put some soul into it, so I think that’s visible,” she explains.
“I like the fact that even if I’m in a bad mood, I make things that are
Recently she’s enjoyed collaborating with editors on conceptual
magazine work, and working with commercial clients, such as
industrial designer Tom Dixon, who encourages her to “just do your
thing,” she says. “She has a real eye for geometry and brings life to
inanimate objects,” notes Dixon. “There is a real care in proportion and
composition, and the images are hard hitting enough for modern digital
media.” Dixon also appreciates that Ringstad “seems to have very little
ego but still has strong views, which is a great combination.”
of Hawaii at Manoa
Unseen, Fast Company, Refinery29, Popular
Mechanics, Amazon, Tom Dixon, Design Within
Reach, Civilization, Brooks Running
Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Alfred, NY
“Figuring out the work-life balance.
I’m a really hard worker, so I think that I used to
work too hard and that would kind of burn me out.
I’ve figured out a better balance in how to work and
be happy and take care of myself. I think it’s really
easy to fall into an unhealthy cycle of staying up all
night hunched over a computer because you’ve got
to get something done. You can tell yourself that it’s
OK, that it’s good enough. You don’t have to keep going.
Sometimes what I think is right, it’s unrealistic in terms
of the timeframe and what other people might expect.”