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Amy Toensing on Going Outside the Comfort Zone

“When we look at images, we understand something about the world – but it’s always in the context of ourselves. It’s a universal language.” —Amy Toensing 

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Harry and Doug Odom turn in beneath each other’s portraits while their dog Taxi keeps watch, November 27, 1999, on Monhegan Island, Maine.

Amy Toensing learned early on in her career that she was interested in telling stories of humanity. “You spend a lot of time with your subjects. You study your subjects. You open up to your subjects. They tell the story. You’re a conduit,” she said. Toensing is best known for her intimate essays about the lives of ordinary people.

In her decade as a contributing photographer for National Geographic, she has completed 13 stories for the magazine covering cultures around the world—from the Australian outback to the Jersey Shore.  Toensing lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her husband Matt Moyer, who is also a contributing photographer for the magazine. —Erin Hull, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

 View more of Amy Toensing’s work on her website.

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Amy Toensing
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Erin Hull, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM


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