Chiffon Dior: Hi Amy! Thanks for squeezing me in on yet another cold as balls New York night. Are you surviving this winter girl?
Amy Beckerman: Surviving! How many more weeks until Spring?
CD: That damn groundhog screwed us over! So weather aside, let’s hop in the Delorean and go back in time a bit, shall we? Where are you from originally?
AB: I am originally from a small town south of Boston called Sharon
CD: So miserable winters are nothing new to you then?
AB: Oh not at all! The only difference is that I am waaaaayyyy less miserable living in NYC.
CD: Well of course! What brought you here to the Big Apple originally?
AB: I went to Bridgewater State College to study theatre and I made it my mission that the second I graduated I would love to NYC….and I did it! I spent a good portion of the first few years performing as a standup comic in the city.
CD: What was that like for you? Was stand up something you always had your eye on throughout college or is it something you just fell into?
AB: Well, I can’t sing or dance, I was overweight, and just an overall awkward person…so it was a perfect fit! The most rewarding part of performing was having people in the audience identify with me. I started taking photography classes at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)and realized I had an even greater passion for that
CD: What made you decide to start taking photography classes at that point?
AB: I was really bored and went through a breakup. Aside from being bored and sad, I was interested in creating art within a different medium and working with other artists (rather than drunk comedians).
CD: Did you always have an interesting in photography or was this a love that just happened?
AB: It was something I always wanted to learn about but never had the chance or time.
CD: Did you take to it quickly once you started, like you knew this was something you wanted to do?
AB: Absolutely. I wasn’t sure what “type” of photography I wanted to do, but it was something I was interested in honing my skills for as a career.
CD: I have to say, you take amazing portrait shots. In your opinion, what goes into making a good portrait?
AB: Thank you! My best portraits are a collaboration between myself and the subject. When someone comes to me with a vision for what they see the final shot looking like, it makes things much easier! Also, great studio lighting helps! *laughs*
CD: I find the best portraits of me are in very low lighting…..and it really helps if the person looking at the picture has had a few drinks. But anyway, do most of your subjects come to you with a vision or do you find you need to pull teeth with them to find out what they want?
AB: A combination of both. I really enjoy working with newer performers to create a photo that portrays who they are as a performer. Sometimes this can be done on the spot as we are styling the shoot, and other times it is a longer conversation that takes some time. For queens, I start with asking questions like: What is your drag persona’s style icon? What do you want people to think when they see a flyer for your show in a magazine? Things like that.
CD: That’s a good segue for me. How did you get started working with drag queens? You’ve taken some wonderful shots of some of the best queens in New York City!
AB: My partner and I are a huge fan of drag and we try and catch different shows each week as our “date night”. We have a signed poster of “The Queen” above our bed!
CD: So once you started shooting, you knew you wanted to work with queens? Who was the first queen you shot….err…..photographed?
AB: I started going to nightlife events in the city to get practice shooting. My favorite events were put on by Suzanne Bartsch because she attracts such a colorful and unique crowd, which excites me more than anything. I knew early on that I was interested in photographing interesting and colorful subjects….because they inspire me! One of the first performers I ever photographed was Heidi Glum. She has since become a very close friend of mine and I have photographed her for numerous projects
CD: In a city as lush and vibrant as New York, in your travels, do you find yourself making notes of places you want to shoot people at? Have you ever come across a locale and thought “That would be the perfect place to shoot so and so!”?
AB: Yes! I recently did a shoot in the bathroom of Billymarks West, a dive bar on 9th avenue. I was doing portraits of a male porn performer and I knew it would be the perfect spot! In situations like that, I am not able to do a complete light setup. I have to work quick with limited equipment….but that’s what Photoshop is for.
CD: So I understand you’re heading out to Los Angeles, a blessing considering this weather! You’ve been nominated for Best Photographer at the Transgender Erotica Awards. First off, congratulations! How did this come about?
AB: Honestly, sometimes I am falling asleep at night and I’m like “How am I photographing porn now?”. 2014 was really incredible and weird, and I wouldn’t change it for anything! I started photographing Rentboy’s and other people in the sex industry. Last year, I met Michelle Austin, a trans erotic performer and I am the photographer and videographer on her series “Michelle Austin’s Trans Men Adventures” (Check it out here! Definitely NSFW!) ….and that’s what got me the nomination. There is no Porn Photography 101 class…..you just learn on the job.
CD: Tell me about! I tried to sign up for that at my local community college and they got all in a tizzy! Needless to say security escorted me out.
AB: I wish! I could be the professor!
CD: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make?
AB: The biggest adjustment is that things change last minute on set and I need to think of a solution quickly and make it happen. In most cases, the issue is lighting and maneuvering in a small space. I’m clutzy but I’ve gotten real good at being in awkward positions.
CD: This June you’ll be having your first ever solo show at the Chelsea Eye Gallery! Again, congratulations are in order. What can you tell us about the show which is called “Gorge”?
AB: “Gorge” is going to incorperate two of my favorite things….performers and food! I love everything about the way food photographs- especially the texture and color. I have had a tumulus relationship with food my whole life, and this series brings light to that.
CD: How did the show come about?
AB: I have attended and photographed several other shows at the gallery…including Krys Fox and Juano Diaz. The curator, Tracy, asked me to have my own solo show!
CD: You’ll have to come back and talk with us this summer to promote that! As someone who loves food (my Instagram timeline will back me up), it sounds fascinating, especially considering the relationship Americans have with food these days.
CD: Who would your dream subject be to shoot?
AB: Alan Cumming and Lea Delaria together. Not in a porn….just portraits! *laughs* I dont even know if they are friends but they are my favorite performers and I would love to create a peice with the two of them together. They are both very different, but they do have the same hairstyle!
CD: *Laughs* So if someone wants to book a session with you, how would they go about it?
AB: They are welcome to send me an email at email@example.com They can also check out my website at www.amybexxx.com
CD: Thank you so much for your time Amy! I’m going to have to talk with you about a session very soon! Do you have any words of wisdom to leave our readers with?
AB: It’s never too late to find your passion and do something you really enjoy in life!