Inspire Me Friday Interview # 10} AMY WENZEL

This Inspire Me Friday is like no other Inspire Me I've ever had, probably because no other photographer has ever inspired ME so much! Go grab a cup of caffeine free Chai Tea with a splash of Rice Milk (it's my fav right now) this is a long one, but oh so worth it!

So just in case you missed it, I positively adore Amy Wenzel. And it's not just for her work, although that is most definitely what drew me in! Amy is just incredible anyway you look at it! From her stunning photography, the fantastic Swiss Miss Haus Designs or most profoundly by the incredible example of faith and love for which she lives her life... No matter what angle you're looking from you'll agree, she's fantastic! One of the most incredible things about Amy is her willingness to share the very raw and genuine emotions that she's been enduring. Simply put, Amy is incredible and just in case you didn't know she was, by the time you're done reading I'm going to make sure you think so too. (I wonder if she would have said no had she known how big a fan I really am? ;)

You see Amy has been my mostest favorite from the very beginning, I follow her in every medium possible and if you follow her too then you know that this last year has been full of heartache, unwavering faith and soul searching for both David & Amy. I remember when I found out, we had friends over for dinner and my friend Mary was being really sweet and giving me warm fuzzies about my photography - my response was, 'if you think mine's good you have to see Amy's!' So we went up to my office so I could show her, I pulled up the blog and saw the post that said something was seriously wrong. I was shocked. You know how when you're a kid you don't realize that your teacher actually has a life outside the classroom? How you can't possibly imagine that she has a family, a home, an existence outside of reading corner and show 'n' tell? Well without noticing, I'd created this very perfect land in Wenzel World where roses always bloomed, doors were always revolving and dinner was always brought out by a maĆ®tre d’.  Oh and just for fun you happened to be an incredibly successful photographer. Maybe I created this world to give myself something to look forward to, maybe it's just that I never really grew up past age 5? What ever it was, when I read that David had been diagnosed with a grade 2 inoperable brain tumor my heart broke and I felt shocked and appalled that calamity couldn't even be avoided by Amy. What followed was amazing to me.  Amy bore her testimony, she offered her deepest fears, emotions and convictions and put them all out for the world to see. Of course (now) I realize she is human, she has days when she feels weak, when she's breaking but she grabs hold of those days and creates something beautiful and inspiring for others to take from it. As a child, I went through things that no child should have to endure and I use to cling to Philippines 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  I feel Amy clinging to those same words and I know how it feels to need them so desperately.

So now you're feeling for her, but are you loving her enough yet? Here is how she finished the post that this video, "I’m so thankful for the days right now of love, laughter, hardship, uncertainty and faith. I wouldn’t trade any of it. The needing. The hoping. The wishing. The praying. And even though there is still so much that I want, I know that today I truly have it all."

Are you crying yet? I have huge crocodile tears falling all over my desk. Aren't they just adorable? So let's change modes. Let me tell you why I think we would be great friends. I know what you're thinking, 'Leah, you did not just go there... What if she reads this and realizes how dorky you are?'  Wait is that me who is thinking that or you? Anyway I don't care, sometimes it's fun to just bolster someone for no other reason except you want to! Okay, back to my list... 

Amy's adorable in yellow, I LOVE yellow, her husband's cute - and hey so is mine. David loves gadgets - so does Taylor (okay, that's why our hubbies would also get along). Amy KNOWS she's a daughter of God, I know I'm a daughter of God. Amy takes amazing pictures, I work at taking amazing pictures. We both knew immediately that our future husbands were standing right in front of us. Her happy place is 5 shoots, my happy place is 5 shoots. We both work better in a clean office, although I'll admit mine is rarely there! We both have husbands who want/need to eat a very healthy diet so although we are both well versed in the art of juicing, we also both guiltily sneak our junk food. I could go on and on but I know you're feeling the friendship!
Okay, okay now that I feel confident that you all think Amy's the cat's meow here is the actual interview..

What’s in the bag?
Canon 5 D Mark 2
85 1.2L
50 1.2L
35 1.4L
What would you label as your professional weakness? 
I hate to admit it but I am not a huge fan of email or the phone.  So I would say the communication aspect is the hardest element for me to stay on top of.  It’s a daily struggle.

Where might we find you if you're not working?
Usually at home being a book worm.  Most of my spare time is spent reading, praying, studying the word of God, or grocery shopping and cooking vegan meals. The kitchen is not my favorite place, but we are learning to be healthy and I am grateful for that.

How many shoots do you like to do a week to be in your happy place?
My happy place is 5 shoots a month.  My business model has really changed over the years. My first few years in business it wasn’t uncommon for me to tackle 12 shoots a month.  But it all started becoming so factory...and the 60 hour work weeks were a nightmare to my personal life.  Now I like to shoot less and put more planning, thought and effort into each shoot, making it special and unique for the client.  I’ve adjusted my pricing structure to reflect this and to create a sustainable business. I’m so much happier, the quality of my work has improved, and many of my clients are becoming yearly regulars.  I am very blessed.

How long have you been a professional photographer?
I’ve been in business for 5 years.

What's your current favorite indulgence?
My indulgences never seem to change.  They include a hot bath, buying books, and junk food eaten in secret.

How long does it usually take you to edit/process a typical session?
It takes me between 6-12 hours depending on the session.  Seniors take a bit longer because I tend to show more proofs and do more extensive retouching.

How did you meet your hubby?
I first saw David when he was in college.  He was hosting a talent show on stage David Letterman style.  I was sitting in the front row.  I was just visiting his school and was there to support the event that he and my brother had worked hard to put on through student government.  I was very captivated by David’s personality.  I told my brother after the show that if I had attended their university I would have dated a guy like David Wenzel.  It wasn’t long before my matchmaker brother had set us up on a hot date.  The minute the night ended I knew I had met the one.  I sat there in shock for about an hour. It was the strangest feeling to be sooo sure about someone when I’d only spent a few hours with them.  Call it fate.  I don’t know. 

Why do you choose not to offer disks?
I actually do offer disks.  We live in a digital age and I can’t imagine not offering people that option if they want to pay for it.  But I believe photographers should make digital proofs a luxury...after all, custom digital art with the rights to reproduce should be a hot commodity!  

What's your favorite TV Show?
My favorite tv show is Mad Men on AMC.  I am so fascinated by different periods in history.  

Do you do an in-person ordering appointment or via the proofing gallery?
Most of my clients order through email using the proofing gallery. If a client wants to sit down with me I also offer that option.  I’ve never been one to push sales. I believe in showing product at the shoot and then letting the photos sell themselves!  
Do you have any rituals you like to enjoy while you edit. (i.e. sweets, music, etc.?)
I like to listen to praise and worship music or mellow singer/songwriter stuff.  I’ve also found that if I clean my office spic and span I can get a lot more work done and I’m less afraid to go in there!
What inspired you to create the remake of Tiffany's (LOVE IT!!) and was it just for fun?
The Breakfast at Tiffany’s shoot was just for fun.  I absolutely love video and wish that I did so much more with it.  I originally just planned on doing the shoot, but then I realized what a fun video it would make for the blog.  I think the Breakfast at Tiffany’s video was what got my name out there to photographers in the first place.  It drove a lot of traffic to my site.  The inspiration came when my parents bought me the old vinyl record for Christmas and it features that picture of Audrey Hepburn on the front. David said I should do a re-make of the photo and thats what started the whole ordeal!
What's the biggest mistake you see new photographers making?
I see a lot of new photographers underpricing themselves because they are unsure of their work.  Although I understand their insecurity, I don’t feel that is a good reason to sell a 5x7 for $10.  That is the price the average consumer will pay for a sandwich and chips, and you are selling your artistic vision for the same price!  It’s ludicrous!  

What book/workshop/photographer has been most inspirational for you?
I think the day I discovered it changed the game for me.  Looking at all those commercial photographers rocking their style made me want to branch out, find my voice and break away from some of the portrait industry trends.  I still go there regularly for inspiration.  

Well I'd say my work here is done! Have a wonderful weekend and I'll have a great surprise on Monday for you! Until then make sure you go check out Paperie Boutique- you won't believe who you'll see along with a great (if I do say so myself) giveaway too! 


  1. Wonderful and inspiring interview! ha after typing this I look up to see the label is INSPIRE ME. Can't wait to see what the surprise is!

  2. Amy is an inspiring person, in both business world and personal. Thanks for introducing her. I completely see why you love her so much!

    I look forward to the surprise and Monday.

    One thought that keeps popping up in my mind... All the amazing photographers that I follow, adore, and am inspired by...they all are dropped dead gorgeous and completely photogenic. It feels like another one of the traits a photographer needs to have in order to excel. Kind of like when you go to a hairstylist. You don't feel good about going to one that has ugly, unkept hair. However, I am terribly unphotogenic. I know this sounds juvenile, but I worry that, even in a small aspect, that will hurt me.

  3. Kristen my dear! I think it's safe to assume (only based on other comments everyone else) that you are putting me in that same category! I assure you it's not the case. For self portraits everyone is trying very hard to look there best - granite it is much easier for some, but I am NOT one of those. And I've heard a lot of photographers say that they don't like being in front of the camera. There is an upcoming post you will see of a an image of Noel and I by Gerry Gionis and wait till you see the out takes!! I am KNOWN by all my friends for the RIDICULOUS candids of me. I'm super animated so I'm constantly caught with the most horrifying expressions!
    So I assure you, self beauty is not a requirement! The real trait a great photographer needs is to see the beauty is EVERYONE else! Last week I photographed a girl with cerebral palsy. To be honest I was worried but when I met her and felt her sweet spirit she was so beautiful to me and I just loved her, it actually was easy.

  4. Leah, you are so sweet in every way. I completely put you in the rankings of the gorgeous, modeling looking photographers. And to which I can identify to your statement about the crazy expressions you always get caught in, because that is how it for me too! I grasp the value in what you were saying about a photographer seeing the beauty in everyone. It's quite poetic!

  5. Hi! I just found your blog today through Amy's. This is my new MUST read blog! Love it!

  6. You are gorgeous, Leah. And this is such a great interview. Cannot wait to see the surprise!

  7. Excellent interview... will do the proper thing and post/RT. Thanks

  8. Thanks so much for this writeup and your blog! I'm so glad I've found it!

  9. I'm so glad that Amy posted the link to this site. I love it! Your so generous to pass on the information you find!

  10. I've had the great pleasure of attending Amy's workshop last year. She is so inspiring and is a joy to follow around with a camera. I've learned so much from her photography instruction as well as from her deep desire to follow the heart of God! She's the best!

  11. i have followed amy for about a year...lost touch & then when i 'found' her 'found' the latest entry was about her hubby
    broke my heart for such a beautiful young couple to have to deal with cancer & all its yuck
    i love her raw powerful beautiful testimony
    i obviously love her work
    great interview!!

  12. She's amazing. I am inspired by her courage and devotion. Not to mention her beautiful work.

  13. Thanks so much for this interview! I also watch Amy's blog. Like many others across this nation, I pray for her and her hubby!

  14. I love Amy's work! Thanks for sharing this! <3

  15. Just found your blog through Amy's. Love it! Off to put it in my blog reader!

  16. fabulous interview! many thanks to amy for her candid profile. and thanks to leah for offering this as a forum for an honest exchange between professionals. i can't wait to read more!

  17. Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  18. i am very inspired by amy's work as well as her personal life. her and her husband are beautiful people. thanks for this interview...i LOVED it!

  19. What a great interview Leah. You said it all so VERY well. Amy is just simply AMAZING. From the grace in which she lives her life to her jaw dropping works of art, to the gracious way she writes about her life...she is an inspiration to the nth degree.

  20. I just LOVE Amy! Both her Breakfast and Tiffany's shoot and the shoot she did with the girls and thei parents vinyl inspired me to try those myself! Not being a pro, I was very happy with my results and thank Amy for the inspiration!!!

  21. Lovely writing and the interview was so interesting.