From the daily archives:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Amy Hildebrand |

Where are you from?
I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. Born and raised a Midwest girl!

Where do you currently live?
Right outside of Cincinnati, in a suburb called Mason.

How long have you been shooting?
Since I was sixteen

Are you self-taught or schooled in photography?
I received my BFA in photography

Do you photograph for a living or is this a hobby?
Both! When I was eighteen my dad offered to pay for schooling, but he wanted to make sure that his money wasn’t going to go to waste, so when I told him I wanted to go to college for photography he had me research a ton of career options within that field so I understood what I was getting into. After I graduated in 2007 though it was a slow start, (I think having two children played a part). It really picked up a few years later, and now both my husband and I have abandoned day jobs due to the demand for our photography services. I’m so thankful my hobby and work are one in the same.

What is in your camera bag?
Oh man, a ton of weird things! Since I literally shot every single day my camera bag doubles as a purse. I thought about getting some of the super expensive, cute bags that you see all over photoblogs, but in the end I just had my mom help me make on that best fit my needs.

I have my Canon 5D mark ii, 1.8 82mm, 17.40mm, 1.4 50mm, and 70-300mm. I also carry a 580ex Speedlight. We most recently got a 600SE Polaroid, so that’s been sneaking it’s way in as well.

Amongst those “necessities” there is also things like my Cokin filter system, a bunch of gels, and anything else I might find cool to shoot through.

Do you shoot digital or film or both?
Both, although for film I usually only shoot Polaroid

If both, what do you find both positive and negative about shooting in both formats?
Positives – the possibilities for ideas are endless due to do the accessibility of equipment (camera phones for example). I often think about someone trying to do a similar photo-a-day project back in the early/mid 1900’s. The task of taking a photo a day, processing the film, and printing the image, would be so much more of a commitment, back then than it is today. And the free time that I now have, due to digital, or same day processing, has left me open for new opportunities and time to think and experiment with on-set and post-production ideas.

Negatives – I guess the biggest downer about shooting mostly digital is the clash between photography communities. I made sure that I was “classically” trained in photography, so that I could make my decisions about what mediums to use wisely. I just hate seeing so many amazing photographers snub each other because of their choice in camera. I think both avenues of photography are amazing and I feel so lucky to live during a time when we can have access to both!

Why do you love Digital or Film?
I guess mostly because of the convenience of it all today. Even film is much more convenient than it was even ten years ago.

How did this project come about?
After college I got real tired of the “art world”. I had been surrounded by artists for four years and felt like I was completely separated from reality, and very drained and defeated from pushing and fighting for my work. My husband and I decided to have a baby, so I was seven months pregnant when I walked across the stage for my degree! I felt like having a baby would be the most pure way to get back in touch with reality, and it sure was! I shopped at Target, ate at Wendy’s and slowly melted back into normal American society; it was nice, and what I needed.

Only after having my 2nd child did I start to get that itch again. I had been doing photography work on and off, but I wanted to do something for myself. I also felt like children were running my world, so I decided to set a simple goal for each day and try to achieve it. I wanted it to last for a long period of time, slow and steady I thought, so that’s when I decided one photo to encompass one day, for one thousand days. Simple, straightforward, achievable.

I decided on the name With Little Sound about four or five months into the project, (I just started out with something like Project One Thousand, or The One Thousand Project as a place holder) I took that beginning time to really think about how I wanted to come across in my work.

My physical appearance draws a lot of attention, so I guess subconsciously I have always balanced that out with being a relatively quiet person who keeps to myself. I don’t think I’m special, or different than any other person out there, I’m just a woman trying to document her life for herself and for anyone who is curious to see what it might be like to live with her eyes.

What is it about this project that speaks personally about you?
I guess it all started when I was young, and the doctors told my parents I was blind.

My mom was 20, my dad 24, and as if they didn’t receive enough shock when the doctor placed a white haired baby in their arms, he then proceeded to tell them that I had a severe case of Albinism, and that there was nothing they could do to “fix” me.

Thankfully my parents weren’t the type to believe everything they hear, and so they started searching for doctors who had studied the albino eye, in hopes there might be some way I could gain my sight back. Ironically enough there was a young medical student here in Cincinnati that was wanting to research the affects of contacts on infants’ eyes. My parents eagerly signed on the dotted line, and at three months I had my first pair of contacts.

A few weeks later I was grasping for shadows and the experiment was deemed a huge success. The med student and I were written up in medical journals across the country. The next twelve years or so I was fitted for all different types of glasses and contacts, but around fifth grade I sort of topped out. I can still remember those early days though, around the age of 2 or 3 studying shadows and light on the kitchen floor of our apartment. I think even then I knew how lucky I was.

When I haphazardly stumbled upon photography (I had to choose between a photo or chemistry class in high school, and I chose photography, thinking it would be easier, ha!), it became my outlet of what I truly saw. All throughout my life people have asked me to explain what I see and up to that point I always hesitated because I had no way of comparing it to what the normal eye sees. But with photography, I could photograph something, and edit it to look more like what I saw (literally and figuratively). It became my way of connecting with my past, and sharing it with others.

My photos are sometime straightforward and sometimes more imaginative, but I treat every one with the mindset that I never would have seen these amazing images if it had not been for my parents, that med student and God’s grace.

What would you want this project to say to the viewer?
To find beauty in every single day, in normal situations, during joyous occasions, and in bad happenings.

Throughout this project I had to witness my father-in-law be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and then watch him slowly die. It was a hard time for our family, but I tried nearly every day to focus on something beautiful that I need to be thankful for.

Are you currently shooting or planning to shoot another personal project?
Haha, what a loaded question! My husband and I are working on so many projects it’s hard to keep count! Right now our biggest project, that I would consider very personal, is called the Happiest Bride on the Block contest. It’s an entire wedding for free that we’re giving away to one lucky couple.

We’ve been doing numerous personal collaborative projects with my brother-in-law and his video company. We started a shared blog to host all of our work together (, and later we thought it would be fun, and a great way to market our new company, by offering a dream wedding for free. We got the idea from our friends at Our Labor of Love, who really inspired us to dream big.

Knowing that With Little Sound is scheduled to end in June of this year is a slight relief. I will be sad to see it end, but at the same time eager to start something new. I’ve often though about our future children (we want to have a big family) and have considered doing the project again when we have them in our life, but who knows.

I’ve been thinking a lot about taking up piano after this is done.

If so, what is the goal you are trying to achieve from that project?
I think our goal for this contest is just to meet new people in the city, make new friends, work on something that we love to do, and surprise one lucky couple. There is nothing more gratifying than making someone’s day, you know?

And as far as the piano goes, I’ve always wanted to learn, and if nothing else was achieved through With Little Sound, at least I know I can stick to something if I put my mind to it!

How do you keep challenging yourself photographically?
I couldn’t do it without my husband. He is my other half. We work literally right next to each other at a desk, asking questions, bringing up ideas, and scheduling shoots. I don’t think I would challenge myself nearly as much if I didn’t have him and his crazy brain sitting right next to me spouting out ideas. I definitely know I couldn’t have done With Little Sound without him pushing me.

I am also inspired and challenged by all the different directions our life is taking right now. On top of doing my personal project, starting our photography business, and hosting/organizing a massive contest, we are renovating a 100+ year old home in a historic town called Lebanon, OH. All these things, plus having a 2 and 4 year old make our life quite challenging, and it makes my photography challenging too. I guess that’s just it; I really don’t like to separate my every day life from my photography, they are one in the same!