An LA-based photographer Amanda Charchian believes it’s the intention of the photographer that distinguishes fine art photography from the commercial and documentary one. And her own intention has always been to empower (women), she says. This might sound rather inconsistent, looking at the works by Amanda, which illuminate intimacy, if not to say vulnerability, of the female nature… But what if consider fragility the best working condition, a perfect angle to explore and amaze?
Amanda Charchian was born to Jewish-Iranian parents in Los Angeles in 1988. She was the first generation within the family to grow up in the US — this fact couldn’t but had an impact on her mindset. Having spent some time in her childhood learning about the culture of Iran (rather as an outside observer), Amanda drew a few important conclusions. First, the smart and ambitious and elegant nature of Iranians is worth admiration. Second, if not for the attitude of the country which doesn’t really celebrate women artists, the next photographer would never have such a zeal for expression and innovation.
Amanda recalls taking up photography, when her father gave her a 35mm Nikon. Although Amanda Charchian has never been alien to the sphere of arts (e.g. she graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in 2010), our heroine primarily focused on sculpture and painting during her studies and didn’t really view photography as a medium for artistic expression. She took photographs rather to capture some moments she found important and just couldn’t bear in mind.
Sculpture would probably remain Amanda’s focus area, if not for her first photography commission — shooting for CR Fashion Book Editorial — which came in 2012. For Amanda immersing into photography turned out to be as captivating and gradual as practicing more static forms of art. The photographer gladly takes time to observe the subject, looking for a right angle, so the subject matter could open up to her. When working with people, it’s empathy and connectedness that Amanda Charchian values the most, calling trust the basis of the model and photographer relationship.
Amanda Charchian prefers using an analog camera in order to better capture the energy the subject emanates and finds intimacy the most obsessing part in photography. Looking at her works, one can easily guess that it’s women that Amanda enjoys photographing the most. Her first book Pheromone Hotbox, released in 2016, came as a quintessence of her infatuation with womankind. Named after the so-called group exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery (2015), where Amanda took part, the monograph visually narrates her experience of going on adventures with some girls from the International Girl Gang. Visiting different locations from Iceland to Costa Rica, Amanda Charchian photographed nude femininity rather in a surreal way, thus, highlighting the contrast between the hectic, absurd world and one’s own nakedness, which is so genuine like nothing else.
It might be that conflation of pheromones, which confers an advantage to Amanda as a female photographer shooting females. Or it’s about her honest, supportive approach that explores the women’s nature without exploiting or fetishizing it. What’s for certain, Amanda Charchian sees the subject’s vulnerability as a strength and is not afraid of exalting parts of her reality by exhibiting emotions and curiosity. In a few decades time the photographer wants to look back at her monograph Pheromone Hotbox as well as the other images, making sure she has really lived … and sensed.
P.S. Amanda Charchian has been represented by Fahey/Klein Gallery (Los Angeles) and Huxley-Parlour Gallery (London) since 2018. Along with fine art and fashion photography, the photographer creates commercial images for such brands as Gucci, Bulgari, Chloe, Cartier, Porsche, Versace, Sony Music, and Univer
On the cover: from the recognized “Ginger Entanglement” series by Amanda Charchian. The series of images is considered a symbol for celebrations of Unity and Womanhood, such as International Women’s Day. Courtesy of the artist.
Author Julia Kryshevich