Amanda Nolan Booker
photography by Amanda Nolan Booker
Communion | 2015
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
― Charles Dickens
Amanda Nolan Booker is a photographer and prop stylist based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her work aims to capture the quiet moments and beauty found in daily life as what she likes to call the 'in-between'.
1/ How do you carry through your practices of ‘slowness’ from your work and transfer them to life at large?
Slowness is necessary, whether as a philosophy or as a brief mediation during an otherwise busy day. I gravitate towards subjects that tend to reflect that mindset: a floral arrangement, a somber portrait. Not to discredit the value of an adventurous lifestyle (I possess a case wanderlust as strong as any) but as a reminder that stillness, even five minutes of quiet is an essential part of life.
2/ What kind of preparations do you participate within for the holiday season?
Holiday decorations are minimal at our house, a garland over the fireplace if we are lucky, or an arrangement of winter florals which I place on the dining room table. In lieu of a Christmas tree my husband and I have just agreed to buy a large house plant each year. Maybe we’ll adorn it with lights?
3/ What does the holiday season remind you to do more of?
The occurrence of cold air just beyond the reach of the warmth, provided by the fireplace and the large batches of soup reminds me more than ever to slow down. I find myself spending hours and hours in the same comfortable spot on the couch, catching up on reading the books I have neglected throughout the year.
4/ Do you have any rituals or traditions for this time of year? If so, what are they?
The women on my father’s side of my family meet a week or two before Christmas to bake together and catch up. It consists of several hours of nonstop laughter and perfectly choreographed use of the oven.
5/ What makes them important to you?
Our schedules do not usually allow us to gather all at once, so having that time together is important to us all.
6/ Has your perspective on the holidays changed over your life? How?
I definitely have become more aware of the effort my families put into making our holidays possible. Behind the large homemade meals I now see the work done sometimes days prior to the dinner, behind the wrapped presents under the tree I see a savings account and hours spent shopping in crowded stores. I am utterly in awe of the love and devotion my families have for one another.
7/ Do you have any particular standout or fond memories of the holiday season?
My cousin Morgan (who is a talented make up artist and photographer in her own right and incidentally assisted with the photographs shown here) and I have always been close, inseparable even. When we were younger our families would dress us in matching outfits for the holiday season. I would wear a dress, always covered in at least a dozen meticulously placed oversized bows, and Morgan would wear a pantsuit in the same style. We may or may not be concocting a plan to reinstate this tradition.
8/ Throughout the year we find ourselves losing track of important practices we emplace at the beginning of every year, what are you keen to get back on track with the rest/holiday season coming up?
Reading! Reading was first love and I feel most at home with a book in hand.
My approach to gifting is…invariably sentimental. I love giving gifts and will spend months trying to find the perfect gift for a particular person. Upon receiving the gift, tears are welcome and encouraged (read: expected).
My ideal morning over the holidays looks like…waking up to a fresh snowfall, ideally with nothing to do that day but sip hot cocoa.
Materials and fabrics perfect for the holiday season are…wool, silk and linen, preferably as layers of the same outfit.
The holidays mean… a time for renewal. We make our resolutions, we aim to rid ourself of old habits, to develop new relationships, to better ourselves the best way we know how.
My Christmas menu must haves are... no Christmas dinner is complete without a batch of dinner rolls fresh out of the oven