Amanda Hakan (1988) is an American photographer originating from the west coast. Hakan’s approach to picture making is subtle and lives within moments shared with those close to her. She is interested in creating work that explores the intimacy in relationships to oneself as well as to others, merging boundaries of portraiture, still life and landscape. She currently lives in New York City, working as a photographer for hire while maintaining a studio practice.
Today we share a collection of images from New York City-based photographer Amanda Hakan, made during the past spring and summer season. Sun-drenched and with the soothing ease of the warmer months, Hakan opens a window into the often unattainable, most intimate and familiar moments of those closest to her. Nevertheless, as a commercial photographer working for brands such as Everlane or Theory, and media like Vice or The New York Times, she often portrays people she is not personally acquainted with. In these situations, she finds important maintaining her usual approach, adjusting when needed depending on the specific context in which the photograph is going to be made. “I do my best to connect with whomever I’m making a picture of as soon as I meet them, I make an effort to spend time chatting with my subject before we begin shooting, even if it’s only a few minutes. At the end of the day, making a picture of someone is an opportunity to connect and it’s one of the many reasons I love it”. But I wonder, is it the photographers’ task to set the atmosphere and create a trusting and comfortable situation for taking the picture, or is it a shared responsibility between photographer and subject? There’s no question about it for Amanda: “I absolutely believe it is part of the photographers’ job to set a comfortable tone and atmosphere for the subject (for the pictures I like to make). My studio takes up a good chunk of my home so, when the assignment allows me to shoot there, I’m able to offer a cup of tea and make them feel welcome.”
Something that appears to breathe through Hakan’s images, and for which (among other things) you could say her images are made recognisable (avoiding any attempt to get close to the subject of “personal style”), is a sense of what the French would call “savoir vivre”, or “knowing how to live [well]”. And it has to do with noticing what happens around you and taking the time to appreciate it. Time is the key here. As it happens, it works this way too when producing photography projects, as Hakan herself explains about her own experiences. “I have had a few ongoing projects that I’ve mostly kept entirely to myself. […] I love that I can make something now and put it away for a long while, bring it back out and feel like I’m visiting an old friend.”
Growing up in the West Coast, she moved to New York City after completing her BFA in Sculpture, Photography, and Printmaking at The Evergreen College in Olympia, WA, which is when she first started taking pictures. “At the time I wasn’t able to articulate exactly what I loved about it but I was entranced by the process, the new perspective and the ability to translate experience and emotion so quickly. I tried to find ways I could weave all three media together but eventually landed on a more pure photography practice”. But it wasn’t until she arrived in NYC and started working as an intern for a Chelsea-based photographer, and then in Milk Studios, that she realized she could make a career out of it. “Before New York, I didn’t know that I was allowed to or could be a photographer, it was such a far off dream. But I quickly realized that my desire in life to make pictures was possible and I’d do anything to make it happen. I was hungry for any opportunity to be on set.”
2020 will find Hakan working on producing images from a list she has of photographs she wants to make, as well as taking commissions, and planning different trips around the world, including Italy.
To view more of Amanda Hakan’s work please visit her website.