Advanced Search | Search A!:
Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2018

Arts for Youth Spotlight — Amy Shumaker

Award-winning photographer

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | May 29, 2018

Amy Shumaker began to take photographs in middle school as a member of the school’s newspaper staff. “I found that while I enjoyed writing articles, I wanted to contribute in a more artistic outlet. The teacher who sponsored the club, Mrs. Rutherford, convinced me to pick up a camera and cover some sporting events on campus. She lent me my first point-and-shoot camera. I really liked the feeling of having a camera in my hands and the mindset of a journalist. Eventually, I got my own small point-and-shoot in bright pink. I took it to a Switchfoot concert. With my parents’ encouragement, I bought my first Canon, and I became more involved in photography,” she says.

Amy has been on the hunt for the perfect moment since. “If I go somewhere without my camera, I get anxious because I will recognize a moment in time that was meant to be seen. I like to capture my own pieces of life.

“Photography gives me an outlet to meet people and to make others see themselves differently. I have been open to more experiences, and it has taken me to places I never thought I would go. Photography takes a piece of you with every frame. I would not give that up. I can show the world what I can see in others and in myself,” Amy says.

Her photo of an old cash register is a finalist in Photographer’s Forum magazine’s Best of College and High School Photography Contest, and her photography received two Silver awards at the American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee ADDY awards.

“I appreciated winning the ADDYs because they showed me that photography and graphic design are what I was meant to do. I realize that it isn’t just a hobby anymore. It was a nice surprise that has led me on my way to professionalism. There are lot of talented artists in this area, and I value being chosen among them. Being chosen as a finalist by Photographer’s Forum taught me that a good picture could be anything, not just pristine landscapes and portraits with studio lighting.

“I like abstracts. I look for interesting subjects. Some of my favorites are abandoned buildings, large machinery and scrap yards. I seek out vintage things: cars, trains, planes, record players, cash registers, you name it. I have a passion for photojournalism, too. I enjoy the package of researching, writing and, of course, photographing. I find events that make me go out of my way to capture the overall atmosphere.

“I find that my camera speaks for itself. Eventually, I will find something that I feel the need to capture. I think from the perspective of photojournalists Henry-Cartier Bresson and Robert Capa. HCB had a method called ‘The Decisive Moment,’ where he would wait for the perfect moment the photo needed to be taken. I try to think on my decisive moment when photographing. Similarly, Capa is quoted saying, ‘If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.’ I analyze a situation by how close I can get to the action. That is where the unique moments are,” she says.

Amy also takes inspiration from famous photojournalists Mary Ellen Mark, Larry Burrows, Margaret Bourke-White, Josef Koudelka and Alex Soth,” she says

Her professors have also influenced her. Alice Anthony, the photography professor at Milligan, gave her the opportunity to go outside her comfort zone to collect photos and the stories behind them. She encouraged Amy to ask questions and not be afraid to get closer to the story. Milligan’sgraphic design professor, Art Brown, pushed her as a graphic designer and a photographer. He taught her the value of research and dedication to her art.

Amy hopes to combine her talents for photography and graphic design and work in the music scene in Nashville or theater.

“I like to spend time researching graphic design history and artists, along with famous photographers. I also enjoy drawing with charcoal and pencil. When the day is nice, I try to take my sketchpad outside and sketch caricatures and landscapes. At some point, I would like to be involved in theater at Milligan. I have never been in a play, but I think it would be a great experience.

When she isn’t in class or taking photographs, she likes to collect cameras and vinyl records.

“I like to collect cameras. There is always a thrill in finding a film camera that works. The next camera I am looking for is a Yashica-Mat. At some point, I would like to experiment with a large format.

“Other family members have given me their own film cameras they have saved over the years. My cousin gave me a camera that belonged to my great, great aunt who treasured it for years. On the other side of my family, another cousin has gifted me an exclusive Polaroid that was earned for selling Tupperware. The story behind it makes it more meaningful. My grandmother Linda Shumaker gave me a Brownie Hawkeye that she had as a child. It’s a simple camera, but the label on the side has her name on it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“I also collect vinyl records. My parents kept their collections,and I have collections from my other family members. Vinyl is a tangible, physical representation of art that comes with characteristics that make it unique, scratches and all. I have a 45 of Led Zeppelin’s ‘A Whole Lotta Love’ that skips on the last chorus. It makes me laugh because the timing is so perfect it makes the chorus infinitely longer. I like to buy boxes of 45s that don’t have immediately recognizable artists. You get a lot of interesting songs that way. Right now, I’m looking to even out my collection of the Smiths and The Clash,” Amy says.

Amy is a 20-year-old sophomore at Milligan College, Johnson City, Tennessee. She is the daughter of Andy and Pennie Shumaker of Bristol, Tennessee.

Topics: Photography



Amy Shumaker’s photo of an old cash register is a finalist in Photographer’s Forum’s Best of College and High School Photography Contest.