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TRUTH no Dare

Amy Herndon, Natural Light Photographer, Tulsa Oklahoma

What was your full name at birth?
Amy Danelle Brust. Danelle was the name of one of my dad’s ex-girlfriends. 😉

How much did you weigh?
8 pounds, 15 ounces. I was a chunky little thing.

Favorite tv show as a kid
It sounds foreign to say today, but we weren’t a big tv watching family. With only 3 channels, I didn’t really watch much. I’ve made up for lost time though since I watch tv while I edit – which is a pretty big chunk of my life.

Have you ever binge watched a series? Which one?
Yes, I binge watched Scandal and loved it. I’m on the hunt for a new series to binge next.

What song describes your life right now?
I love the message of “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw. As a mom, it summarizes everything I constantly try to instill in my kids. As far as what describes my life right now, I might have to say “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney. Everyone always tells you how fast your kids’ childhood goes. Once they get to high school, it seems to really fly and all I want to do is freeze time. Since I can’t do that, I focus on the present and truly appreciate every single moment of this journey.

How did you meet your husband?
We met in the OU press box. I was a student and working for the Sports Information department. He had already graduated but volunteered to take stats so he could go to football games and sit with his buddy who was the Sports Information Director. I loved his sense of humor and passion and he liked that I walked fast.

What is the Oklahoma state bird?
It’s the scissortail fly catcher, but I would have never known that if my kids hadn’t learned Oklahoma’s symbols and taught me.

Present day motto?
“why be moody when you can shake yo booty?” or maybe a better one is “learn constantly, laugh loudly and love generously.”

Where do you go to get perspective on life?
I look to my kids and also to my parents. My most important role on this earth is to raise three people who will grow up to work hard, be kind and do great things. My kids fill me with immense gratitude and give me the greatest perspective of what matters most. My parents give me perspective of a different stage in life. They have overcome tragedies and challenges, yet they never let it stop them from living every day to its absolute fullest. Their zest for life and commitment to each other for over 50 years is inspiring.

What is the thing you most love about photography?
The absolute best part is being able to capture a moment in time for families. Life changes so quickly and to be able to give people the gift of what their life looks like – and what their love looks like – is incredibly rewarding.

Do you like one of your kids better than the other ones?
Of course! Haven’t you met sweet Walker? 😉 I love that each of my kids is so very different and each has such unique traits and gifts. I especially love that my kids get to grow up with siblings who are different from themselves so that they all may benefit from each other’s strengths and hopefully develop empathy and understanding for each other’s weaknesses.

What is the one aspect of your photography that most defines your look?
I hope that people will say that my work feels authentic. I strive to always bring out genuine love, joy and emotion. I think people would also say the light in my pictures helps define my look. I am obsessed with pretty, natural light and believe it can make the ordinary look beautiful if captured well.

How did you discover that?
Emotion is what drove me to photography. I wanted to be able to capture in pictures what I felt and saw with my own kids in real life. I found that the pictures that moved me the most were the candid, lifestyle shots and and not ones that were stiffly posed. My work began with just candid photography as a hobby and it was actually a struggle in the beginning of my business to figure out how to show that emotion in posed images, since people who hire me often want the everyone-looking-at-the-camera-and-smiling shot. The natural light aspect in my work just came from the aesthetic to which I was drawn. I practiced, practiced and practiced to figure out how to best work with natural light to achieve the look I was after.

If you could be anything what would it be?
A good mom, a good wife and a good friend.

Favorite Tulsa restaurant
So hard….probably a three way tie between Mi Cocina, Stonehorse and In the Raw. Depends on what I’m in the mood for.

Favorite restaurant on this planet
I actually love eating breakfast out and two of my favorite restaurants are breakfast places. Buffalo Grille in Houston has the best migas and pancakes and Katy’s in Carmel, California, has the best everything!

Number one bucket list item
Most of my bucket list items have been sports related and I feel like I’ve been incredibly lucky to cross them off. Taking my kids to see the KC Royals win the AL pennant after 30 years; taking my oldest son to a World Series game and seeing a leadoff inside-the-park home run as the Royals went on to win in 14 innings; getting to not only go to the Masters, but see a good friend play in it and make an eagle then a hole-in-one in the final round. Those are all magical memories that I don’t know if I could ever top. The fact that each of them was experienced with family or dear friends is what made them truly special. I don’t really have any bucket list goals other than to travel as much as possible and embrace any opportunity that comes along.

Do you think you are a good dancer? Why?
I’m a fabulous dancer after a few glasses of wine 😉

What is your favorite color?
any shade of blue

What do you think is the next trend in fashion, or photography or both
I have no clue about any trends in fashion but I hope the trend in photography is for artists to find their own niche and style and to not follow trends. With everyone having a camera phone now and digital cameras now being affordable to the hobbyist, anyone can truly be a photographer. If photographers approach their work with their own eye and vision, the world will be filled with incredible individual beauty and perspective. That to me is so much more valuable than photographers trying to emulate someone else’s style. I hope photographers find their own voice and illustrate that in their work. Doing so enables clients to find a photographer who truly represents what they are looking for as well.

Was it scary to start your business
Oh gosh – so scary. I never actually set out to start my business though and instead just backed into it accidentally. I took pictures as a hobby and some people started asking if they could pay me to take their family’s pictures. It organically grew from there but I was scared to death every session that I would screw it up somehow or not capture what the client was hoping. I still get anxiety before every session since I want it to be wonderful for the client. I was never afraid that the actual business would fail – only that people wouldn’t love what I offered. I didn’t open my studio space until after I had been in business for 4 years and had been working out of my home. Opening the space was a leap of faith and a new fear. Charles Faudree was a close friend who convinced me to go for it. I was 40 years old at the time and he told me he hadn’t opened his first shop until he was 40 and it turned out to be a great success for him. Between Charles, my husband believing and rooting for me every step of the way and a handful of amazingly supportive and encouraging girlfriends, I knew that I would never regret at least trying. To this day, no matter what happens, I will never regret pushing myself to grow, learn, try and maybe even fail. I hope my children can take something away from my example.

What’s your go to look?
Um….pajamas? Oh – when I leave the house, I’d say I usually keep it pretty simple. Jeans and a button-up shirt or a silk t-shirt are pretty standard staples.

Who is your style icon?
Jan Saxon is a friend and client and has the most beautiful fashion style of anyone I know. Tracy Salisbury is my dear friend who has unbelievable style, grace and can set a table or pull together a room like nobody else. Francie Faudree is also a close friend who has fabulous fashion and decor style and is an icon because she makes me laugh harder than anyone.

Who is your photog icon?
There are many I like for different reasons. They each have their own distinct look and style though, which I love about them. Stephanie Rausser’s work exudes joy, humor and beauty. Barb Uil of Jinky Art creates the most unbelievable art. Jose Villa and Erich McVey each tell beautiful stories with their wedding photography. Tara Whitney shows a family’s love like no one else I know. I could go on and on. I am inspired by so many amazingly talented people.

One word to describe your outlook on life
Happy. (Of course I can’t keep any answer to one word and have to elaborate!) I know life is filled with many struggles and can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. I don’t believe you can truly appreciate the highs though without experiencing the lows. There is joy to be found in every step of the journey and I try to find and focus on the many, many blessings that fill our hearts and bring happiness.