My name is Amandarose, a thirty year old that’s following her dreams.
I am a photographer, and I was diagnosed with eye cancer at 26 years old. I was diagnosed with Choroidal Melanoma, which is a form of ocular melanoma, but it’s all a fancy way of saying that there was a tumor in the back of my eye. Only seven out of a million people are diagnosed with a form of this orphan cancer, and I am one of the seven.
I specifically remember the day I was diagnosed. I was living on the East Coast and planned a big move to California. After struggling with headaches for three to five years, my doctor recommended to do an MRI. A month before the big move, I did the test. Just as I was stepping on the plane in Philadelphia to move to California, I got a call from my doctor. He said he found a mass in my eye. My heart dropped. I was in complete shock. My first thought was, “Does that mean I can’t photograph anymore?”
When I was in eighth grade, my friend gave me a Canon A-E1 Program, a film camera. I learned how to use it, took a couple of pictures, and then someone complimented me, saying, “You have a good eye”. That point defined what I wanted to do the rest of my life. While others were dreaming of being doctors, teachers, and lawyers, I dreamed of becoming a photographer.
Growing up, my mom made these photo albums of our family. I remember turning each plastic covered page and feeling so much joy looking at the happy memories. One album I wish existed was their wedding album. There are only two pictures of my parent’s wedding day in existence, and I cherished them so much. Since they didn’t have an album, I would always ask my parents questions about their wedding: what was it like? Who was there? What flowers did they choose? Perhaps it was their lack of a wedding album that fuels my passion today.
In high school, I bought my first digital camera, a Canon 20D, and I was desperate to be in the high school photography class. Right before summer of freshman year, the photography teacher handed me a black and white manual and said, “Read this and I’ll think about it”. So I did. I spent my sunny summer days in Honesdale, Pennsylvania with my nose in a camera manual. When the year began, I was enthusiastic to be the only freshman in the classroom. Embracing my new passion, I was hanging around the dark room during free periods. Later, I began interning twice a week for a local photographer.
The truth is that my passion for photography will never end. It’s been my dream since I was a child. The way the pictures helped me envision my family at a different time is exactly sentimentality I want my clients to have. My parent’s lack of a wedding album makes me passionate about couples having an album of their own. I want my brides to look at their albums and remember the magic of their wedding day. I want the portrait sessions I take- the engagements, the anniversaries, the day in the life of – I want them all to evoke nostalgia. And lastly, I want all of the vow renewals, private events, and gender reveals to spark joy.
As a graduate of Marywood University’s Fine Art and Film Program, my education translated into editorials for brides. There is so much creativity in photographing in a studio; it’s always been a passion of mine. In our industry, so many people focus on digital or film, but I am able to do both. The reality is that my learning did not end with college; to this day, I am learning. I am a student of photography always.
Photography, like all art, is meant to evoke, and that is why I do it. This year marked four years of being cancer free. So many moments of my career told me to quit. How could I possibly afford an art school program and succeed? Why should I enter an already-saturated industry? And, at one point, even my body threatened me. But I have overcome each and every trial, and I bring you this passion. I bring you my talent. And I hope, I really hope, that you show up too.
AGS Photo Art has a couple of spots left for weddings, portraits, and events in 2019 and is now booking for 2020. Please feel free to contact me here if you would like to work together. If you would like to learn more about Ocular Melanoma and how you can detect it early, please click here to find out how.