One of the key things we look at when deciding on whether or not to feature a design project is the quality of photography. As editors, we’re of course looking at the quality and overall aesthetic of the interior, but if the photos are bad, it’s a no go. Seriously, we’ve passed on exquisite projects many times over because, let’s be honest, all the impressive design elements in the world won’t make up for poor lighting, blurry details, or questionable composition.
Needless to say, we’ve gotten to know some of the top photographers in the industry, and whenever we see their name attached to a project, we know it’s going to be good. Amy Bartlam has quickly worked her way to the top of our list. Amy was born in the UK but moved to sunny Los Angeles in 2013. She’s developed an impressive client roster, shooting for top designers all throughout the state. Amy has been published in many print magazines, design blogs, and featured here on Rue more times than we can count!
While our usual M.O. is to obsess over the images she takes, we wanted to know more about the gal behind the camera. Today, Amy shares what brought her to LA, how she broke her way into such a tight-knit industry, and what she loves most about her job:
Hi Amy! When did you first discover your love of photography?
Photography was always around in our house growing up! My dad is an amateur photographer and he converted a tiny box room into a darkroom – I used to just hang out with him in there as a kid. I remember being amazed at the images that appeared from nowhere in the developing trays, and the smell of the chemicals – I guess that’s where it all began, I have such a nostalgic connection with it. I don’t think I actually picked up a camera until I was about 17, but I feel like my love for it was already there!
Tell us a bit about your background! Where did you study?
I went to Stafford College for Art Foundation and then did my BA at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in Visual Communication. I’d always been creatively inclined (and funnily enough I wanted to be an interior designer growing up) but didn’t know which road to go down career-wise. So I ended up taking that course since it was a mixed degree and gave me scope to try a few different things. It became clear pretty early on that I was going to specialize in photography though.
What inspired the move to Los Angeles? What do you love most about living and working in California?
It was actually my boyfriend’s job that brought us here initially, he’s a TV editor so it was a fairly natural move. The weather is always the first thing I mention when I talk about how much I love California, it’s a serious improvement on the eternal grey of the UK! It’s incredible how much this one state has to offer too, beaches, mountains, lakes, vineyards – I love heading out of town for the weekend to explore new places! California also provides incredible variety for me work-wise, despite it’s fairly short history I see such a wide range of styles – from all glass modernist beachfront homes to cozy 30s cottages tucked away in the hills, to downtown lofts and sprawling valley ranches, LA has it all. I honestly feel super honored on the daily to work with so many incredible women in this town too; it’s a constant inspiration!
How has your work evolved since coming from the UK to SoCal?
Well certainly dealing with LA’s perpetual sunshine has made me evolve my process; it makes a big difference when you’re shooting a home so I’ve become very in tune with how the sun moves and how light changes an interior scene. I’ve also become super analytical when composing an image, so many years of shooting interiors and studying your own work in the edit makes you extremely critical and forces you to improve all the time, I think I’m getting more and more detail orientated every day!
Have you had any “pinch me” moments, AKA major milestones in your career?
I shot portraits and the home of Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna for LA Home Magazine a couple of years ago – that was a definite pinch me moment! It was the cover story too, so walking into Barnes and Noble and seeing the magazine gave me chills!
What advice would you offer those who are just starting out in the industry?
Probably the same advice my parents gave me – “throw enough mud and something will stick”, that really resonated with me when I was trying to get my name out, and it’s completely true, just keep trying and something will eventually happen! Actively seek out the people you want to work with and put yourself in front of them, don’t be dishearted when you don’t hear back – just keep trying. Oh and be reliable, work hard and be nice!
Finally, we know it’s hard to pick favorites, but do you have any recent work that your most proud of?
Ohh I’m going to make a lot of my lovely clients unhappy here! But two of my current favourites have to be this monochrome haven by JDP Interiors and this mid-century beauty by J Kurtz Design.