By Kelly Davis
Name: Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler
Company: dBF Associates, Inc.
Courses taught: Introduction to Black & White Photography; Understanding Photographic Light: Studio & Location
For photographer Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, teaching others her craft is as important as practicing it. “My entire life is photography,” she writes on her website. “Learning it. Teaching it. Writing about it.” She’s the author of three books on photographic techniques and frequently contributes articles to professional photography magazines. Her best advice for aspiring photographers: Find your voice and niche. “Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep,” she says.
Why did you choose this career field?
I’ve always loved photography and teaching. I’ve been a photographer since I was 12 and started teaching first as a tutor when I was in high school, tutoring younger students in math.
I chose photography because I love the creation of images, the concept of the frozen moment and the idea of changing the story of reality with my own perspective. I just gravitated towards it in high school and could never get rid of the bug. I finally realized it’s what I should do for a living after working in corporate America for six years. Best choice I ever made.
How’d you get started?
I majored in Interdisciplinary Film Studies at Purdue University and then got my Master of Fine Arts in photography from Brooks Institute. My first professional gig was for a small greeting card company, shooting still-life images of their products. I knew the owner and we both started our businesses about the same time. After that, I got larger corporate jobs, weddings and family portraits.
What do most enjoy about your job?
I love helping students achieve their vision.
What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field?
Photography is a saturated field. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful; it just means that you are more likely to be successful if you excel at a specific [kind of] photography and make it your own. A unique voice with technical skill and consistency will get you a lot further than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep.
How is your field changing? What new skills do people need to stay current?
Photography changes daily. There are new tools, new software, new cameras. Trying to stay on top of everything will drive you crazy. But you can stay relevant to the things that matter to you — and be sure to always look at new photography to be sure you understand where the trends are headed and if they apply to you.
Why do you teach for Extension?
I teach for UC San Diego Extension because it’s a good program with concise classes. Not everyone wants a semester system or a twice-weekly class structure. This program allows people to engage with photography at their own rate with specific insights and classes to help direct that unique voice I mentioned earlier. It’s important to figure out what you want to do and build skills towards that goal. Extension provides a great structure to do that.