Geelong photographer Amy Lee Carlon takes us behind the lens to talk inspirations, life with a disability and lockdown cabin fever

Geelong photographer Amy Lee Carlon takes us behind the lens to talk inspirations, life with a disability and lockdown cabin fever

Photo by Emma Johnson Photography
Words by Jessica Magtalas

Taking a look at the face behind the camera.

For some, being in front of the camera comes naturally to them. Though for Amy Lee Carlon, her portfolio of works and friendly demeanour has made a mark in the photography scene – capturing people, like us, in their best form.

Growing up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and a now Geelong resident since mid-2019, Amy has seized the essence of regional Victoria. From charming photos of locals, small businesses, headshots and even herself, she’s created a colourful canvas on her Instagram page and website and without a doubt, arresting attention from many locals and her garnered followers.

While 2020 has been quite a year, I’ve had the chance to speak with Amy to highlight the nature of this young individual, sharing stories, inspirations and even hardships that she’s crossed, to truly capture the epitome of Amy.

Tell me about yourself?
Well, I’m in my mid twenty’s – turning twenty-five on the fourteenth and I honestly still feel like I am 20 life is moving far too fast! I grew up in the Southern Highlands in NSW. I’m a creative human who certainly loves a laugh, people often say they hear me before they see me! I love to chat, which you often can’t keep me quiet. Believe it or not, I am a very nervous/anxious person. Meeting new people and being in new environments I find hard especially if I don’t have my camera with me but if I have a camera there is no stopping me.

It hasn’t been long since you moved to Geelong, how are you enjoying the atmosphere?
I moved here in June 2019. The eight months to follow that was great. The community and vibrancy in this town are beyond amazing. I have met so many generous people here considering I didn’t know anyone when I moved. Obviously, with the current restrictions that have been on and off since March 2020, things are different. I’m not able to explore this new town or meet a lot of new people but I’m excited for the day I can again.

You’ve been very vocal about your experience with a disability, could you explain how it’s been for you?
Living with a disability is interesting, I guess when you’re born with a disability it’s all you know. Life, yes, was hard and I went through a lot to be able to walk and be where I am – physically independent. No one would have ever thought I’d move states by myself away from my family. So, I’m so grateful for the abilities I have been able to develop and maintain. As a young female, it can be challenging having to explain to people that you have a physical disability that does impact your daily life. Not many people can tell straight away that I have problems with my legs or hands. Having to constantly explain yourself can be challenging to recap twenty-five years of life, haha!

Has this motivated you or how has it pushed you to reach your goals?
I think my parents always instilled in me and my siblings that we can do whatever we want regarding career and our futures. I’m in general a very determined ambitious person who can’t sit still for five minutes.

Despite this, you’ve been able to move forward – from interior design, headshots and capturing people in their elements who’ve done an amazing job at highlighting others. What made you want to get into photography or pursue this career path?
I have always had a camera in hand! My Mum was constantly documenting my development/ progress growing up. So, my sister and I would often take over the camera ourselves. I would document every school event, every friend gathering or birthday party, you name it! When I reached year twelve, I thought I better go to university but had no clue what career I wanted and decided to study photography and I have progressed from there. I also studied marketing and worked for my university in social media and the office job certainly pushed me to pack up my bags and pick Geelong on a map and move to pursue my creative outlet.

It must be really enjoyable! Are there any special moments that happened during shoots or any that stick out to you?
Making people feel comfortable is what I love. You can see a person slowly allowing themselves to feel comfortable in a situation that is so unusual to many. I like making people laugh and love hearing how comfortable they found themselves on our photoshoot after we have wrapped.

Since lockdown, I can imagine you miss the freedom of working with clients and friends. How has it been for you in COVID-isolation?
What a year right! I mean I miss being able to work with anyone and everyone. Constantly having to postpone photoshoots is not fun for our industry not because of the fact we can’t work personally or make money but because we don’t want to disappoint our clients also. I’ve weirdly found a lot of positives during this strange time. When we have been able to work, it was encouraging as a small new business in the area to still see clients old and new booking. To still be getting referrals even during such a rough time financially for many I am so grateful for. Though it has been fun to relax. I have been appreciating the time off. Although forced, I’ve learnt not to run myself thin. Moving forward I look forward to a better work-life balance.

While being in touch with others is quite difficult right now, how are you adjusting to this time in regional Victoria?
I have been adjusting well, I took advantage of the first eight months of COVID free life in Geelong. I have a lot of new friends here in Victoria who I speak to regularly which is great to know you have that community support. I do live with my boyfriend who moved here last year from WA to work in the wine industry. We met a not long after I moved here from NSW and I am so grateful that I have had someone to lean on during this time as we both can’t return home to see our families in either state.

Is it hard finding inspiration?
For where exactly and how I draw inspiration is a touch question I thought I would have more clarity on this as I have gotten older, but I don’t. I am a very visual person and often am drawn to light which usually helps compose an image. I do love Andy Warhol, I studied him a lot at university. I have an appropriated image of his tattooed on my leg near my scars. He was all about breaking the rules, doing things differently and being proactive with making changes.

Any plans that everyone can anticipate and look forward to?
For now, I will be focusing on product photography while we’re in some of the restrictions and hopefully, soon I can get back to capturing people laughing, smiling and dancing. I’ve always wanted to live my life day by day and not plan too far ahead but I do look forward to 2021. I will see where life takes me. Though I do know I’ll still have my camera in hand, and Geelong I think will be home for a long while.

Is there something that nobody knows about you?
I am very short! I am 4’11 which makes my perspective on life different to some, haha! I may show up to your shoot step ladder in hand!

Check out Amy’s works on her Instagram page and website.