Q&A: Zombie Engagement Photographer Speaks!

©Amanda Rynda

Photographer Amanda Rynda’s “zombie engagement photos” were an Internet sensation this past week, ending up on blogs and websites all over the world.

We caught up with the Los Angeles-based Rynda and asked her a few questions about how it felt to “go viral” and whether she thinks her ghoulishly good photos might start a new trend in wedding photography.

See the full zombie sequence and Rynda’s other work here.

PDNPulse: Please give us some background on you and your photo business.
Amanda Rynda: I’m a color stylist for Disney by day and took up photography this year in my spare time to have a new creative outlet. I’ve been working as an associate photographer with LA-based wedding photographers, Jen Harris and Charise Proctor on the weekends.

PDNPulse: How did the idea come up to do the zombie engagement shoot?
Amanda Rynda: Juliana and Ben asked me to shoot their engagement session but they weren’t into a soft, PDA filled engagement session. They wanted something fun and quirky to show off their fun-loving and creative personalities. Juliana came to me and said, “Ben and I want to survive a zombie attack and then hug because we’re in love.” It was such a fun idea, I knew right away we’d have a great time making it happen.

PDNPulse: Had you ever done anything like this before?
Amanda Rynda: No, I’ve never shot anything like this before. I’m pretty new to photography so I haven’t worked with too many clients of my own yet. I’m just so happy to have been given the opportunity to work with people as fun, creative and eager to open up as much as Ben and Juliana did for this e-session. I hope that trend continues.

©Amanda Rynda

PDNPulse: What do you think of the huge Internet reaction to this?
Amanda Rynda: I can not believe the Internet reaction to these photos: it’s awesome! It was really funny at first because I barely have an Internet presence at all. I had just signed up for Twitter and was trying to make a webpage for myself when all of a sudden I was being contacted by people all over the world asking to post the photos on their websites and blogs. The photos have even become a meme! I saw one of my photos with a Photoshopped in Burger King man creeping up on the couple instead of the zombie. HA! I also received illustrated fan art of the photos too which is so amazing! It has truly been overwhelming and something I never could of planned for, but at the same time it’s so exciting!

PDNPulse: Have you received other requests from other couples to do something similar?
Amanda Rynda: Yes, I have been in contact with a few other couples who want to do something along the same lines. I’d love to be a part of more creative, fun and out of the box type photo sessions in the future. My hope though is that couples can be inspired by this particular theme but come up with unique ideas that will reflect their own creativity and showcase their own personalities rather than mimicking someone else’s chosen display of love. I think an engagement session is a great opportunity for couples to be who they are and just have fun with it!

PDNPulse: Do you think these sort of themed engagement and/or wedding shoots might be a good new source of revenue for wedding photographers?
Amanda Rynda: I do think that themed shoots would be a great new source of revenue for photographers. However, I think it goes beyond just having a theme. What I believe sets this session apart from other e-sessions is that this theme tells a story, similar to how a comic book might. Like I said earlier, I’m pretty new to photography. I’ve been working in the animation industry for the past five years so I bring a different set of skills into play. I love to see a pretty, technically sound picture just like anyone else but my hope for Ben and Juliana’s photo session was that we could tell a story together and I could practice my photography in the process.

©Amanda Rynda

PDNPulse: How did you get the interesting color cast to these zombie shots? They look, appropriately, like they’re from a 1970s horror film. (As a related question, what kind of gear do you use?)
Amanda Rynda: I knew I wanted the editing and color palette to change throughout because I thought color would be a good tool to communicate the story. So, when I sat down to edit I thought about it as if I was watching a zombie film and pausing it every so often. I was basically pretending to be a storyboard artist and a director and I felt that in order to push the story there needed to be some specific color choices made. I just played around in Adobe Lightroom 3 to get the results and then did some further zombifying in Photoshop.

I shot this session on a used Canon 5D that I bought online and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

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