Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

Interview :: Amanda Stevenson Lupke
by Juanita Berge, 1 Apr 2009

A Philadelphia native, Amanda Stevenson Lupke has logged over 15 years of professional photographic experience throughout the US and across the globe.

A diligent spirit coupled with an infectious positive outlook has enabled her work to be included in a variety of exhibitions, international publications, and advertising campaigns.

In 1994, Amanda founded Amanda Stevenson Photography where she continues to work, learn, and play. She is currently the president of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) Philadelphia Chapter.

Check out her work online by visiting

Amanda's work can also be viewed at her upcoming show, Coffee & Art with Amanda Stevenson, opening May 2 from 1-4pm at One Shot Coffee, Liberties Walk, 1040 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia. A selection of her photos and paintings will be on display there.

PCG: How did you begin as a photographer?

AS: Growing up, I was always surrounded by artists and creative personalities; my mother was a model and an actress, and I enjoyed seeing her act out different roles in front of the camera. When I was searching for my own creative outlet, it seemed natural for me to pick up a camera. I spent my free time in a high school darkroom, and progressed from photographing geese along West River Drive in Philadelphia to photographing people and products for clients. I still like to walk along West River Drive, camera in hand.

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

PCG: How long have you worked as a professional photographer?

AS: After studying photography at Community College of Philadelphia and Rochester Institute of Technology, I moved to Basel, Switzerland and worked as a product /industrial photographer for Ciba-Geigy. Returning to the United States, I assisted with some of the great photographers of the time, learning technique from Hashi, Hans Neleman, and Tony Ward. I opened my own studio in Philadelphia in 1994, and continue to work toward defining my own style with the clarity that distinguished my mentors.

PCG: What was your experience abroad?

AS: The light in Europe is very inspiring. Perhaps it is that one's perception abroad cannot be separated from one's experience abroad. The advertising mentality is to appeal to audiences in several different languages; they use a quirkier way to communicate. Now I enjoy looking at European websites of graphic designers and ad agencies for inspiration.

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

PCG: You took time out of your career to continue your education. What direction did that take?

AS: I communicate in a 2D medium. This is true whether I'm working with a paintbrush or a Nikon. Yet I believe there is an inherent value in pre-visualizing beyond what one sees in the flat plane of a viewfinder. It is important conceptually for me to understand what the back of your head looks like and what light does to the areas that we can't see. This is what led me to study our skeletal structure and learn the classic techniques of painting and sculpture at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Describing the human form is my passion. I am a 2D girl living in a 3D world.

PCG: You mentioned you "...seemed to be trying to paint with a camera." Where has that realization taken you?

AS: From my classical training in painting and sculpture at PAFA I learned how to see or rather interpret the light on organic forms. It fascinates me how light can alter the way we see the human form.

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

PCG: Do you consider yourself more of a photographer, or more of a painter?

AS: I am a photographer down to the bone. And a photographer's life is communicating perceptions and perspectives to the viewer through her lens. However, I am finding that my training as a painter is useful not just in my perception of my subjects, but also in applying the classical techniques I learned through the tools in the latest versions of Photoshop.

PCG: How do you earn your living today?

AS: My main clients are editorial and portraiture. Check out my website to see my recent work. Juggling time for taking pictures and self-promotion is always a challenge. Presently I am looking for an agent.

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

PCG: What have been the major influences in your career?

AS: The major influences in my career for the studio have always been watching movies for lighting and styling in different eras. I am a huge fan of the forties. As a freshman in college I was greatly influenced by the photojournalism work of W. Eugene Smith, an American photographer who had great courage to go to distant lands and photograph people in their existing conditions and capture the beauty of their reality as shocking as it maybe to the outsider. His work always captured the beauty in the human condition. One of my favorite series by Smith is Man of Mercy documenting Dr. Albert Schweitzer's journey to Africa.

My greatest inspiration is collaborating with clients, I love working as a team to find interesting locations, models and styling to turn an idea into images. I like to work in a narrative form that tell a story.

PCG: You are involved with many Internship programs; tell us about your experience?

AS: One of my joys in life is working creatively, and I like to share this experience with students to help them gain the confidence to explore the world of photography. I use interns from The Art Institute of Philadelphia and Drexel University. Victoria Horn, one of my recent high school level interns just landed a scholarship for her senior year at Germantown Friends School.

"...the most valuable tool is to be confident that you can teach yourself..."

PCG: What has been your guiding principle as you've pursued your career?

AS: Always learning new techniques, new skills, new stuff; I teach my interns that the most valuable tool is to be confident that you can teach yourself, so that you can build that garage door for the car shoot, that you can run water pipes through sets to splash the models, and add a little Photoshop to make it all flow smoothly.

PCG: How did you come to be affiliated with ASMP? Tell us about ASMP.

AS: I heard about the Focus Philadelphia project, an annual juried member show, and I used the opportunity to do some personal work. The subject was to capture a Philadelphia neighborhood photographically as a time capsule, documenting our rapidly changing neighborhoods. This year we altered the theme to be "your dream job" and everyone submitted their present work, highlighting their style and passion. And our membership has the most amazing talent. It is a great pleasure to be their president. We have been bringing great programs to Philadelphia to take advantage of all the new possibilities in the photography industry, including workflow and Photoshop with Adobe, Taking Control of Your Career with Judy Herrmann, Small Strobes Big Results with David Tejeda and I Stink at Negotiating with Blake Discher.

Amanda Stevenson Lupke | Photographer

PCG: Where is the future taking you?

AS: With the help of digital technology I have so much more control and ability to play in my lab with Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop and other software like Photo Matix for HDR processing. My work is taking me nationally. I am traveling more to locations for clients. It is an exciting time to explore new communities and environments for photographing people in their surroundings.

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