Nov 14, 2022
Amanda Chapman, Photographer & Special Effects Artist
Here at Mixed Alternative, we think all artists are pretty awesome, especially the self-taught ones. Kind of like this creative gem of a photographer and special effects make-up artist in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Amanda Chapman is completely self-taught in her craft, and her work is utterly breathtaking. Her photography has been featured on Shutterbug, and her special effects make-up has been featured on Yahoo!, Buzzfeed, marie claire, POPSUGAR, and Alabama.com. Yes, she’s THAT good. And she has a kind, creative, super-fun personality to match.
Amanda’s love for photography developed in 2006 after her husband gave her her first camera for Christmas. After reading the manual and teaching herself about the art of photography, she started taking pictures of her daughter and soon learned she loved portrait photography.
By March 2007, Chapman opened her photography business and hasn’t looked back. Later that year, she started shooting weddings and expanded her repertoire. What makes her photos so unique is that she doesn’t just shoot an image; she creates a work of art in and around her subjects that leaves people so happy, they often can’t find the words to express it. That was the case with a local author, who wished to remain anonymous, who hired Amanda to shoot the cover of her book.
“I get really nervous taking pictures,” the author said. “Amanda’s personality put me at complete ease, and she was so creative in her vision that it was the best photo shoot I’ve ever had, and I left elated. When I got the pictures back, they were gorgeous. My publisher and I loved them and had a hard time choosing 'the one'.”
By 2012, Amanda’s journey expanded to include special effects makeup and photography.
“I grew up in a haunted house, and I honestly don’t remember a time where I didn’t love Halloween and all the spooky things. I always love watching scary movies and dressing up, even when it wasn’t Halloween,” says Chapman.
Inspired by well-known YouTube make-up artist Kandee Johnson after she saw Johnson do an Edward Scissorhands makeup, Amanda picked up some tips from her and decided to give her hand a try at her own Edward Scissorhands makeup.
“I felt such a deep connection to this character that I wanted to walk a day in his shoes, so to speak. I’ve always loved that movie.”
(And I can say to all you Scissorhands fans to stay tuned for a very special Edward transformation coming very soon!)
The application process takes many hours, she says, and if she’s making prosthetics, that usually takes two to three days, depending on what she’s making. Creating these types of characters led her to embark on learning to make prosthetics and test other materials for the effects process.
When she creates prosthetics, she first does a clay sculpt on a face cast. Next, she creates a plaster mold and pours latex into the mold. After it sets, she removes the latex prosthetic and paints it, then applies it.
In addition to Edward, Amanda has recreated other popular characters like Beetlejuice, Michael Meyers, E.T., The Maitlands (Beetlejuice), Pennywise, Jigsaw, Mrs. Bates, Vecna (from Stranger Things), Large Marge (from PeeWee’s Big Adventure), and Jason Voorhees, to name a few.
“My favorite characters to recreate are, of course, Edward Scissorhands, the Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Creature from the Black Lagoon, just for a few,” says Chapman. “I’m a huge [Johnny] Depp / [Tim] Burton fan, so many of their collaborations are favorites of mine to recreate.”
She also enjoys doing zombie makeups and even went to The Walking Dead conventions in Nashville and Atlanta in 2016. Her makeup was so good that it caught the attention of other fx artists in Atlanta, and she even got to meet Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Glenn Rhee, and Norman Reedus--something Amanda says she'll never forget.
Her favorite part of the transformation process, she says, is the moment when she first sees the character coming together, which often reminds her to trust the process … and herself. As she creates her characters, Amanda then designs an entire set in which to photograph them.
“I love creating sets and choosing lighting to complement each character. It helps being my own photographer to capture each portrait in a certain artistic light,” she says.
Ever since 2017, Amanda has done a “31 Days of Halloween” project where she creates characters and sets and posts photos of a different character over the entire month of October. This year she featured Billy Butcherson from Hocus Pocus, Large Marge, and Jason Voorhees, among many others. Amanda says she enjoys the whimsical makeups, especially if they’re Tim-Burton inspired.
“It all starts with being inspired by a new character to create. Then my brain is consumed with every single detail to make it happen. If it's a recreation of a character, then I obsess over getting everything as close to the original as possible. I consider the backdrop and lighting to help highlight the makeup as well.”
Recently, Chapman entered the 2022 Faces of Horror contest—the first of its kind. She received a ton of votes and is so talented, she made it all the way to the semi-finals and came in 2nd.
“I believe this was the first year for this contest to be held, and I was fortunate enough to advance as far as I did,” Amanda says.
And she’ll tell you it was, “100% because of all the amazing votes from family, friends, and online followers,” for whom she says she is very, very grateful, but it was also because of her talent and ability to creatively capture each character and their emotion in the way she envisioned and intended.
Chapman says for many past characters she’s created prosthetics and masks that she would love to introduce on TikTok and YouTube, and she even has “many more characters” up her sleeve for 2023.
When asked what’s next for her, Amanda responded, “I have plans to start a series of original characters, and I have always flirted with the idea of doing fx-themed horror photo shoots for my clients who are brave enough, haha.”
She’s got one person right here who’s not only brave enough but also happily willing and ready any time she wants!
Whether you’re looking for portraits, wedding photos, couple pics, a bitchin band photo for your album or book cover, a fun themed shoot—it doesn’t matter. You’re gonna want to call Amanda. She is, hands down, one of the best photographers we’ve ever come across. We know you’ll love her as much as we do.
To view Amanda’s work and book her for any of her mad skills, you can find her online at www.AmandaChapman.net and on Facebook @AmandaDChapman.
*photos provided by Amanda Chapman
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