Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions.
My name is Amanda Nicole, last name Miller. So yes, I have two names. HaHa. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps. Here I met my husband of six years, Larry. Shortly after getting married, we had our one and only child. Our daughter’s name is Prada and she is currently 5 years old. After serving my contract as a Marine, I focused on school and my new career. This, more or less, leads to where I am now. I have two Bachelor’s Degrees (a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing Major.) and have been in business for myself for just over 4 years.
I am passionate about a handful of things. Family is a given, so I will talk outside of that. One of the things I am most passionate about is being successful. For this reason, many of the things I’m passionate about are aligned with the concept of obtaining success. Being a photographer, you could guess I’m passionate about photography. That guess would be correct. I’m also very passionate about helping others succeed in their businesses, learning, coding, and EDM. I guess I am a bit eclectic. HaHa.
So, as a photographer, what do you like the most about your profession?
For me, one of the most rewarding parts of being a photographer is delivering the finished product to my clients. Their reaction is always so heart-warming. Not only are they excited, but I also know that I have preserved a moment of their lives… their history… essentially forever. Memories will fade and our brains naturally fill in the gaps, but a photo will always remain and hold the truth and a story.
Can you discuss the circumstances that led to your career and some challenges you have overcome?
I always had photography in the back of my mind. Honestly, this stemmed from high school. My junior year, as I sat down for my college algebra class, I noticed that the girl I sat next to would kind of stare at me from time to time. Out of the blue, she just said “I like your face.” I didn’t really know what to say because it was so bizarre… so I said “Thank you!” with a smile. She then began to tell me that she is a photographer and would love to photograph me sometime. Not long after, she actually became one of my closest friends. She was such a talented photographer, and would always take me out on photo shoots. I was kind of like her test model.
From this, I became very interested in photography. However, as a high school student, I naturally had some insecurities that tend to be lost as an adult. I didn’t want to try photography because I was scared to look stupid in front of her. I was scared of being terrible with how good she was. However, as an adult, I still found the interest there for photography. I finally decided to give it a shot. If I was terrible, then at least I could say I tried. I wouldn’t have to look back and regret never doing it. If I did well, then I would continue to pursue it. It took some time, but has led to where I am now!
For me personally, one of the largest challenges has been running a photography business as the spouse of an active duty Marine. We move a lot, and we don’t really have any say in that. When we move, I essentially have to start my business again from scratch. It makes growth and profitability much more difficult than if I was able to stay in one place.
Aside from this, I think every photographer faces the challenge of being one fish in the school so to speak. This industry is very over-saturated. That in itself can make success a challenging thing.
For someone looking to get into photography, what would you say to him or her?
I actually mentor quite a few people, so this is not a new concept for me. First, I always ask if they’re wanting to do photography as a hobby or a career. Based off this answer, I branch into other questions. Overall this is the gist of what I tell those who want to make it a career…
I am not telling you this to discourage your decision. Personally, if there is something you want to do, I always support and encourage that. However, I am telling you this so you walk into this field educated… so you honestly know what to expect. Being a photographer is amazing. It’s so rewarding. Yet, it’s not what you may think it is as an outsider looking in. The field is very over-saturated and very competitive. Unfortunately, photographers are often not supportive of each other and sometimes not even kind to one another. It can be extremely difficult to be profitable and to make a living off your photography. This does not mean it’s impossible, though. You simply need to make sure that you have a solid understanding of your costs of business, pricing, and more. You need to understand that a majority of the time: you are not shooting. You are at your computer: editing, blogging, networking, answering emails, writing up contracts, handling the accounting, and more. You are out and about trying to push sales, shake hands, and meet potential clients. This too can be fun, but it can also be exhausting and overwhelming at times. As long as you know this and are prepared for this kind of work: you will be successful.
How can photography impact change in the world?
Essentially, photography impacts change in the lives of every one of my clients: whether big or small. One thing I do when the opportunity arises is photograph families with sick family members: perhaps ones they know may not be around much longer. I tend to do this at a discounted price or for free, depending on the circumstances. Often times, these clients will email me a couple months later saying their family member has passed away, and they cannot thank me enough for the photos. The photos not only provide for them a memory of that family member’s life, but it reminds them of happier times. Perhaps it reminds them of when that individual was a bit healthier. Sometimes, these are actually the last photos they have together… or even the only photos they have together if they didn’t get to see them often or simply always forgot to stop for a quick photo. I know for these families, I have changed their lives. These emails and/or phone calls always bring tears to my eyes. If ever I have a day where I doubt myself or what I am doing: I try to remember these clients. The ones who are so thankful to have crossed paths with me. I just hope they know how important their stories are to me as well.
On a larger scale, photography can impact change in the world by simply preserving memories and stories within history. Without getting too deep into this subject, I can simply point out that every story we read is always enhanced if there is a photo to go along with it.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations and why?
Hands down, my biggest inspiration is my father. He is an amazing man from every aspect. He’s kind-hearted and wise, which continuously gives me inspiration towards character. However, he’s also an entrepreneur: which is a huge reason why I chose the path in which I am on. I watched him while growing up, just as all children watch their parents. I suppose I saw something different than a majority of children growing up tend to see, though: not to say that one way is better than another… just different.
From a very young age, literally as young as my memory can take me, I remember him working, working, working. Admittedly, it was tough on my mom at times. However, he was doing it for us. He grew up in a way that nobody should have to, and he promised himself that no matter what it took: his children would not live like that. He stuck to that promise.
Eventually, his hard work led to the opportunity of opening his own printing company. As a matter of fact, my father did not go to college and I have a hunch he may not have been the “best” or “most focused” in high school either. (Although he definitely expected us to be. HaHa. It was for the right reasons.) He took on the trade of printing at age sixteen and literally worked his way from the bottom up. He was more than qualified and ready to start a printing company because he had literally worked every single job in which he hired for within his company. If you think college is hard, think again. College can be challenging of course, and I absolutely loved learning in that setting. However, to have the dedication and drive to work at something for that many years… that is hard. A majority of us these days can’t say we’ve worked in any one industry or field for that long. If this ends up with the wrong target, and I’m incorrect in speaking about them: then at least refer to statistics in general.
I feel my father’s company obtained success quicker than most. Perhaps it was because he had so much knowledge and was well-networked: prepared to take on the challenge. Yet, this is not to say that once he started the business, it was smooth sailing. I watched the struggles, along with the good times. Even to this day, that’s just how things are at times. It was because of him that I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else. I wanted to work for myself. I didn’t know if I wanted a large company, a small company, or (where I currently stand) a company of “just me” minus contracted positions. All I knew is that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He set an amazing example, and I felt it would be foolish of me not to follow.
To this day, when I come across struggles (both personal and business-related), he is the first person I reach out to. If I’m scared or have fear of anything, he comforts me with both love and his wisdom. And I know, after talking to him, that everything will be okay: maybe not easy, maybe not without struggle… but it will be okay and it will work out. I honestly cannot say enough about him. I fully acknowledge and appreciate that without my father: I would not be the woman I am today.
Gah. I’m crying. I love him. HaHa.
There are other people I look up to, absolutely. But I feel if I talked about them now… it wouldn’t come out nearly as well. There’s simply such a huge difference is the way I look up to my father and the way I look up to other individuals. I will at least name a few, though: simply for the record.
I’ve looked up to Mark Cuban for a long time now, as a role-model and distant (although now closer, thanks to CyberDust) advisor. I respect that he can be honest and straight-forward, as businesspeople should be, but still manage to do it in a non-demeaning, respectful manner. Not a lot of people can do this, especially ones of this stature.
There are also many of my college professors that stick out in my mind. Yet, of all of them, four had the most impact (two from each B.S. program). This is by no means to belittle or mitigate the importance of all the other, amazing professors I had though. I think it’s fair to say that every personality will connect better, learn better, etc. from one individual versus another.
From my B.S. in Psychology at Campbell University, Camp Lejeune Campus:
I will always remember Dr. Piper. He was a very serious man, but did have a dry sense of humor that I understood. I was often the only one laughing. He was very successful (as a matter of fact, taught at night but by day but was the CEO of the local hospital), extremely professional, and so well-poised. He had a different type of charisma that would draw you in to learn more… because you just knew how much knowledge he had stored up in that brain of his: locked up, needing to be opened and discovered. Nonetheless, he was the more challenging professor in regards to tests and papers, but I loved that he challenged us. I took every class possible with him, even if other students advised otherwise. I knew the challenge was worth the knowledge… and simply observing him and learning from those observations themselves. Furthermore, it was him who introduced me to and hence created this intense interest of Industrial Psychology. Ironically, like business and psychology together. Perfect, right?
I will also always remember Dr./Rev. Fatica. He was probably quite the opposite of Dr. Piper: not a bad thing, just a different personality. Yet, the way he taught and cared so much about his students and what he was teaching genuinely stuck out to me. He was also a Reverend at a local, Baptist Church, so I also started attending his Sunday services. In the end, I found that his ability to work and connect with people to be astonishing. I could never foresee myself being like that: perhaps just a personality thing. Nevertheless, I commended his abilities to do so and at least attempt to mimic (in my own way) the passion for people in which he displayed so well.
From my B.S. in Business Administration at The University of South Carolina, Beaufort Campus:
Dr. Dennis will never be forgotten. In a sense, his traits could be compared to or paralleled with those of Dr. Piper. It’s no secret that many students hated Dr. Dennis’s classes, and some even hated him. A handful of his classes were not optional because he was the guru, and he taught that subject. Period. However, for the classes that were also offered by other professors: you better believe a mass majority of students tried to get into those first. Not me. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I would seek out any classes I could take with him. Again, the challenge simply was worth it. I learned so much because of him. Rather, I learned so much because of myself: wanting to meet his standards. One thing I loved and respected about him is that he, without question, treated every student the same. It didn’t matter if he liked you or not, if you were the best student or the worst: rules were rules. That right there speaks for something in itself. Literally, there was no give or leeway. It was just “tough shit” unless someone was dying and you could prove it. Even then, he still pretty much expected the student to either figure it out, or drop the class and take it at a time when their lives were back in order or more favorable. He was a bad-ass. Some people saw it as being an “asshole,” but I looked at it as reality within the college-setting… Prepping us for the upcoming, unsheltered reality. In the world of business, it can be war. He wanted to ensure that, if it was on him, you were prepared for that. It didn’t matter if you were intelligent, beautiful, persuasive, charismatic, or anything else you could think of: nobody was getting away with anything. Aside from this, he taught the most interesting classes for my personality type: including organizational behavior and strategic management.
Finally, there was Dr. Swift. The first day of my first class with him, I wasn’t so sure what to expect. He gave off a challenging vibe, but one that kind-of ticked me off. I suppose that different motivators work for different people and different situations. In hindsight, I like how he ran that first class. I now know how I will react and respond if I ever work with someone like “him” on that day. Once that class started going, I knew he would have a huge impact on me. He had done so many commendable things throughout his career: things I wanted to know more about. I wanted to learn how he got there, his honest opinions and feedback on my presentations, his insight in regards to where he would see me being successful, etc. He was always available for me to talk to: before class, after class, via e-mail, etc. I respected and appreciated that he could give me that time despite his busy schedule (and probably x-number of other students wanting his time as well). Eventually, I took entrepreneurship with him. From this class actually stemmed my first entrepreneurial opportunity (outside of my photography business of course). We had a final project due that included about three options to choose from. One of them came from a local startup that reached out to the university for feedback in regards to the newer methods of marketing (social media and the like) and how they could use it specifically for their company. I chose this project because it was a real company with a real problem… You know, something I could potentially face one day. Not to mention, it did require some creativity and brainstorming: which is needed for any company to stand out from the crowd, the sea of advertisements, the option of numerous competitors. All the students who chose this projects had copies sent to the company for them to review and hopefully apply. After reading my submission, the company contacted the school and requested a meeting with me. At this meeting, they asked if I could assist with marketing: with a focus in social media, web development, etc. It was a huge honor for me. I love being a photographer, but I have an entrepreneurial spirit in general. This was the first door of opportunity to delve into those other areas of entrepreneurship.
If you could solve a world problem, what would it be?
This is a very difficult question to answer. I say this not because there are so many problems to choose from, but because a lot of our world’s problems stem from cultural differences. This is my opinion, and if anybody disagrees: I am fine with that. I am not trying to push unwillingly my beliefs and concepts onto anyone. Furthermore, I also respect the opinions of others in regards to this matter. I’m simply stating my opinion and hopefully: opening the eyes to some who may find they agree with me. Now with that being said: not only are some world problems hard to fix, but some people can even be offended when something is referred to as a “problem.”
Feeding off this introduction, if I could fix one world problem, it would be the lack of interest and understanding of other cultures. Ironically, this isn’t often seen as a “world problem.” These words usually bring to mind things like poverty, orphans, lack of opportunity, etc. The list could and does go on and on, and all of these are legitimate world problems. I myself have even traveled to South Africa to work with a group of orphans. The reason I chose this problem, though, is that I honestly feel if we could be more accepting, understanding, and even more willing to learn about other cultures: a lot of our individual and cultural differences could be solved or understood. This in turn leads to the possibility of other world problems being more easily solved or mitigated. As with most things in life, there is a chain reaction.
What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
There is always so much advise out there, and every person comes from a different walk of life: allowing them to offer a completely different piece of advice and point of view. Sometimes we will even get contradicting advice to what has been received in the past. Just always ensure that you take every piece of advice, every opinion, etc. for what it’s worth and how it applies to you. Sometimes my advice makes the world of a difference to one person, while another person may be thinking “well that was useless.” HaHa.
My biggest piece of advice to our youth would probably be to believe in yourself and your goals, but do so knowing that hard work is ahead. The only way to achieve that which you want to achieve will always sound easier than it is: you literally need to get up and do it, act on it, and quit wasting time. That in itself sounds easy and is easy to do, but “hanging in there” is where it gets tough.
This sounds cliche, so let me expand. Whether you have some off the wall, outrageous goal or something much more realistic and obtainable: there will always be negative people in life, along with positive people for that matter. You should always listen and hear people out. Listen with the intent to learn, even if you do not respond. If someone is a bit negative in regards to your goals, and offers absolutely no advice along with it: ignore. There’s nothing significant you can do with that. Yet, if someone is a bit negative towards your goals, but offers advice that could help you become more successful in your current path or even just advice that is purely negative or opposite of your goals: listen to it. These people tend to be the ones who have been there, done that. Maybe they haven’t been in your exact shoes, but they are offering some sort of wisdom from experience. Take the advice they give and apply it as needed to make your goals more obtainable. You may have to alter their advice in order to apply it in a positive manner: one that will help you to move forward versus backwards, one that will encourage you versus discourage. But I promise you: even negative advice can be useful. For example, take the negative advice and find out where that negativity stemmed from. There you have found the true problem. Now you find a way to avoid that problem specifically, versus looking at the situation in a negative manner. Instead of allowing a problem to hinder your success, you are now solving a problem. This is something that everybody has to do in life, in business, in families, and more… and typically on a daily basis to some degree.
So you take the negative and the positive and make both work for you versus against you. You’re believing in yourself and surrounding yourself with factors that encourage you: allowing you to believe even more. From here, just keep in mind that for anybody to accomplish something great, he or she must work… and work hard. It will not always be easy. You will have setbacks. Some setbacks will make you question yourself. Sometimes, you will be broke. You will have to find a way to make it work. Sometimes you will cry. That’s okay. Cry and get it out of your system. Then move on and move forward. That release is important, but you cannot let it take over your mindset or even your valuable time. Sometimes you will be exhausted, mentally and physically. Take a mental break, step away, take a nap, exercise… something. Then get back at it. I could go on and on, trust me. The point is that in the end, it is worth it. You can look to a majority of successful entrepreneurs and other individuals. Read about them. Very few success stories come from individuals that had everything handed to them on a silver platter. As a matter of fact, those individuals often don’t know how to fight to stay on top, they don’t know how to handle real struggles, they don’t know what it is to work for success. They have never needed to succeed in order to survive, and therefore: they will not be around as long. Yet those who stay in the game and eventually die as legends: their path was no walk in the park.
Here at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
For me personally, I’m just your everyday person. For that reason, I try to use my difference to make a difference in small, every day situations and ways. For example…
1.) I don’t always have a lot of money to donate to charities. Therefore, I try to offer my photography services to charities when I can. Sometimes this involves me photographing a specific charity event. Other times, it involves me donating something for the charity to use in something like an auction.
2.) I always try to ensure that I find specific families and homes to donate items to when it comes time for me to part with them. Along with this, I have my daughter go through everything with me so she can learn good habits and hopefully copy them as she gets older. My daughter is 5 years old, so she is always outgrowing clothes and toys. In my opinion, I feel that if something is trashed, it shouldn’t be donated. It’s almost like a slap in the face from my point of view: like saying you can have my trash, the things I just don’t want. Nobody deserves that.
But together, we always go through her clothes and toys. Initially, we do this to keep the house clean, clutter-free, and to simply show my daughter it’s not okay to have everything. You don’t need to have everything and still expect/want more. However, while we are doing this, we divide everything into three piles: keep, donate, and trash. I let my daughter decide what she wants to keep and what she wants to giveaway/get rid of. For those items, I then let her decide what she wants to donate to other kids and what she thinks is trash. If she makes the right decision, I encourage her and show excitement. If she makes a decision I disagree with, I “suggest” what I think we should do and ask what she thinks. Through this method, I teach my daughter what is acceptable to donate and what isn’t. She’s gotten the hang out it pretty well by now. I’ve always told her that she should want to give nice things to other kids because it’s the right thing to do. I then tell her that she shouldn’t give yucky things to other kids because if she was receiving a gift: she would want something nice as well.
3.) Although I am extremely busy and overwhelmed at almost any given time, I honestly bend over backwards and do my best to help others where I can. I do a lot more behind-the-scenes work that anybody knows, and I’m okay with that. I like to see people achieving success, and if I can help with that: I always give it a shot. I’ve done a bit of everything from photography mentoring to more general business assistance: web-development, social media marketing and management, SEO and SEM assistance, promotions, features, and more.
Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?
My website has a bit of information about me, but nothing too crazy: probably nothing I haven’t already mentioned on here. However, I do blog every Tuesday and Thursday: which keeps everyone up to date on my latest work. Individuals can subscribe to my blog and newsletter on the main page of the website if they’d like. I’m also all over social media, and very active with it. My username for all social media is anmphotog.
The very easiest way to keep up with me, though, is honestly on CyberDust. My username on there is also anmphotog. The link is cyberdust.com/addme?anmphotog. Here I post updates on just about everything: business, my passion for EDM, daily shenanigans, etc. I also do giveaways, discounts, and promotions that are only available to those on CyberDust. It’s definitely worth the free download and minute or two of time. While on there, you’ll always meet new and cool people… much cooler than me. HaHa.