Photographer Amanda López on Beauty Ideals & Celebrating Her Heritage

“I love the process of researching a person, seeing what kind of images have been made of them in the past, and thinking about what I can do to offer a new perspective,” says photographer Amanda López. “Photography has taught me that everybody is beautiful. Find something that makes someone feel good and that’ll come out in the photo.”

Growing up in Sacramento, López always loved painting and drawing, but the minute she picked up her dad’s camera at 17, it was as if a light bulb went off. “I realized I really liked working with people one-on-one and I loved making portraits,” she says. To learn her craft, López spent a decade working in galleries and photo studios after graduating from San Francisco State, including a stint as L.A. photographer Estevan Oriol’s assistant. Today, she focuses on portrait and lifestyle photography and has worked with The Washington Post, Time, Netflix and Instagram. Her work, which often spotlights women of color, also appears in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and her work celebrating the cultural significance of door-knocker earrings was featured in MoMA's "Items: Is Fashion Modern?" exhibition in 2017.

We caught up with López for a conversation about beauty — and how her career has shaped her relationship with it — ahead. 

“Find something that makes someone feel good and that’ll come out in the photo.”

"I saw so many different styles of beauty and I think that helped me when I became a photographer."

“I internalized the standard of beauty as what I was seeing on TV — Mexican actresses who were really thin and had long, beautiful hair and their makeup was impeccable."



Photographer Amanda López taps into her music roots with her go-to playlist for working out.

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