Amy Powell is a high school teacher and photographer from Columbus, Ohio. The oldest of four siblings (different fathers), Amy has taken a keen interest in their upbringing as subjects of her photography, and in countless other ways. When her brother was concerned about being homeless at seventeen, she applied for custody and he completed his senior year of high school while living with her.
Growing up, Amy saw her parents struggle with bankruptcies and evictions, and they moved around frequently. The instability of her upbringing motivated her to be the first in her family to attend and graduate college. When she decided to disclose her plans to study photography, her father told her, “Ninety-nine percent of the world don’t give a $#&% about photography.” She did it anyway. Amy studied photography at Columbus College of Art & Design and later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Ohio State University.
For as long as Amy can remember, she has employed the mechanics of the camera to create intimacy, and even distance, with her family. At fifteen, she began documenting the parts of life her mother (the family photographer) did not; the car being repossessed, cat feces on the living room floor, her parents discussing their impending divorce. Organizing the frame and composing a personal narrative that felt more genuine, empowered Amy in situations which often felt powerless. The camera gave her a sense of immunity from life’s challenges.
Craving a sense of purpose and a regular paycheck, Amy completed a teacher training program at Ohio State. She has enjoyed teaching art in public schools since, spending summer months pursuing her own work. Her family photos have been published with TIME.
Today, when Amy isn’t teaching or photographing, she can be found remodeling her home, exploring out west, making abstract paintings, or poking around thrift shops. One day she plans to spread joy to the world by breeding funny-looking, Persian cats.