5 mins with: AMANDA BILLING (the photographer, as opposed to the actress or the artist…)

*What was the inspiration for your company and how long had you been working on it before launching? 

I launched my website amandabillingphotography.co.nz in 2023 but I’d been doing portraits as a side hustle since 2019. 

*Can you share with us what a typical day looks like for you? 

I’m also an actor and a painter so a typical day barely exists! Generally though, I do writing/business admin/photography in the morning and then I walk to my studio and paint in the afternoon. I find it helpful to just do photos on Tues/Weds/Thursday mornings so I can tidy up and also do deep work on Mondays and Fridays (or have a long weekend!).

Every few weeks, I take time off photography completely to focus more consistently on painting. And of course when I have an acting job, everything else goes on hold. It can be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants existence but I think I like the challenge and I like to be busy.

*The industry that you’re in now, was that always a career pathway you wanted to explore? And if not always, what sparked your initial interest? 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been incredibly moved by the power of photographic images. I used to read my Nana’s LIFE magazines cover to cover whenever I visited her. You can see the LIFE archive here to get a feel for what I was absorbing: fashion and performance and combat photography, I saw the lot. I think this is why I like my portrait work to have a photojournalistic feel. I like to capture people as they are, in the moment, not static. Very much alive. 

When I was in Form 2 (Year 8) I remember taking a camera to school on my last day because I wanted to take portraits of my teachers. I wanted to capture them in their environment. It’s like I sent myself “on assignment”. I think this was motivated by exactly the same thing that made me do a 100 project thirty years later. I didn’t really get into photography until my thirties though and it has always been about people rather than landscapes or animals.

My photo biz grew out of that 100 day project. I did in 2015. I set a challenge to take a black and white portrait of a friend every day for 100 days. I got a bit busy with acting part way through and expanded the challenge to “take photographs of people”. It was a huge undertaking but I completed it and it changed my life. You can see samples of the project here.

And if the idea of a 100 Day Project appeals, you can follow the official international project on IG here.

*Do you have a highlight experience from your years of work in the creative space?

I decided to really dig into my business this year, focusing photographing women in business. Most are self-employed and many are what we call “mid life” – but they’re not having a crisis! It’s the complete opposite. Often they’re in renaissance, they know who they are and they know what work they want to do and they need new pics to go with this new, authentic them. These women are my highlights.

*Can you share something that may surprise people about what could go on behind the scenes of your work? 

How relaxed and casual and FUN it is. I think lots of people find photoshoots for work a drag/scary/hideous. Many of us have hang ups about how we look and many of us are incredible resistant to having our photo taken. This is why reassuring and entertaining people is such a important part of my job.

I only use natural light so there are no big scary flashing lights. The only threatening things are the massive pieces of polystyrene I use to bounce light around and if they fall on you (it happens) they might take you by surprise but they don’t hurt. 

I always encourage people to take their shoes off in my studio – the less formality the better. I have a lot of pics of very classy business women in their socks! And the secret to wonderful portraits is both of us enjoying the experience, so there’s lots of jokes and clowning around. 

*Where would we find you in your spare time?

Probably on my couch, knitting. Or in my kitchen, making focaccia. Or anywhere, scrolling IG on my phone (it’s a problem).

*Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Just Be Yourself.

– my mum.

*Social media

WEBSITE: www.amandabillingphotography.co.nz

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-billing-artist/

PHOTOGRAPHY IG: https://www.instagram.com/_intomeandsee_

MAIN IG: https://www.instagram.com/_amandabilling_/



Kimberley Crossman

Kimberley Crossman is a kiwi actress, author, and presenter. Oh and you are currently on her website reading a blog she has written.

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