Spotlight: Nadja Amahn


My name is Nadja Amahn I am a film photographer in LA. As a creative my mission is to capture the Black essence in a new light. Primarily focused on portraiture and effortless natural beauty. My goal is to help show the world their reflections and feel seen.

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First, tell us a little about yourself. What is your background, how long have you been a photographer, and what type of photography do you specialize in?

I am a 20-something Black female photographer in Los Angeles, California. I have always been shooting throughout my years, but I’ve been a professional photographer for a little over a year now. It’s been an amazing experience and I'm glad to call it my hectic home. When I started shooting I was very much into shooting street photography (and still am), but I started getting introduced to shooting models and for small brands. So I very quickly got into portraiture/fashion photography which has transformed into where my work is today.

Why did you get into photography, and what inspires you?

Nostalgia, truly. I’ve always loved the idea of capturing a moment or a memory in physical (or digital) form, the feelings from looking at a photo from a time before, something that was forgotten, can always be a gift. A lot of how I work revolves around loss, and that can mean many things, it inspires me to do what I do everyday and to reinvent myself creatively often. People inspire me, their resilience and their strength to be themselves everyday, makes me come to my truths as an artist and I’m honored to capture those raw moments.

Can you give us some insight into your shooting techniques when shooting film? What are the top 3 most important elements when you shoot film?

I have made my way through the film world this entire time without a light-meter!! I get a lot of crap about that, but I take pride in being a sun reader. It's almost like a spiritual connection haha but sunny 16 is my life.

One important element is that I think the choice in film is really important! I know that sounds obvious, but truly selecting the right film for the right project can save you a lot of time and energy later!

Second, TAKE YOUR TIME. I did a lot of test shoots with one 120 roll only and really tried to get creative with my shots. I think the ability to compose a photo first then shoot allows you to do more with less material, and also create a versatile set by telling a short story. Become a stronger photographer by honing your eye.

Third, have fun with it. Film is such a versatile medium you can do A LOT of different things with it to make it your own. Whether that's in camera, during developing, or even after printing. So try any and everything. I say it’s like painting, we sometimes just have to create the colors.

Why do you shoot film? Any advice to others interested in working with film?

I shoot film because it's what I admired about my old family photo books, I knew I wanted to have similar photos of my own. As I got older I realized that those photos were just regular old 35 mm and I really fell in love with how accessible the medium still was. I started to shoot more often on film and the emotion and soul film photos held was too good for me to let go of. I knew that in my career I would eventually be a film only photographer and that came pretty quickly. I continue to learn new processes and skills, like developing and printmaking, that make my love grow stronger. If anyone is thinking to start shooting with film, I say go for it! Depending on your photography skill level, grab a point and shoot or a cheap SLR camera, some commercial stock film, and find a local developer and just get started! That’s all you can do.

What are your biggest influences as a creative?

My biggest inspiration is my grandmother. I love the style of her time and how she carried herself in her younger years. That sort of energy is emulated in a lot of my more vintage looking shoots. I think generations and their history really resonates with me so I usually bounce in that realm. I am a weird artist who is inspired but chooses not to be heavily influenced by others' work, so I do a lot of research in different places to gather concept ideas. I am an artist as well so when my creativity flows on one side I can pull and transform it to the other.

Any recent photos, shoots, upcoming projects, or photography plans that you're excited about and would like to share with us?

I am currently working on a few different projects! My first is a photobook called ‘Juvenile’ honoring women as their younger selves. I run the Instagram page @Blackwithfim which highlights other Black film photographers all around the world, giving them a platform to be seen, and soon we’ll be able to give back to the Black creative community. Aside from that, this year is all about execution and completion, so I’m excited to get a few of my more elaborate projects out throughout the year.

What’s your favorite photo or session you’ve ever taken on Fujifilm?

My favorite photo session on Fujifilm is probably the one for my book ‘Juvenile’ with Mary Yemane, it was taken both on C200 and Pro400H 35mm. The vibe on set was unmatched and the photos really came out to represent the day. Those photos now hold that same energy and hang in my home. Soon they'll be in your homes for you to feel too, and that’s amazing!