Amanda Matsui

I so enjoyed doing this project with Amanda. In many ways she was a reminder of some of the very core reasons why I photograph people and listen to their stories. It’s for these specific, tiny little moments here and there. Moments that don’t happen that often but when they do you know that you’ve just seen or heard something of the most authentic truth. They hit you right in the heart and in the gut. You can feel their authenticity.

I saw these little glimpses in how Amanda answered her questions. How she fought with herself to dig out that truth within and was honest when what she found didn’t resinate or when what she found didn’t have the substance she’d hoped for. 

I think that this speaks to so much of who we are as humans. We want to give the portrayal of knowing the answers. Of having life figured out, at least on a fundamental level. We even convince ourselves of this.

Amanda reminds us that life is messy, but that it doesn’t have to be without bliss.

We have to give ourselves some grace and work through the mess. It’s always going to be there and it really is a beautiful part of the human condition. It’s okay that we don’t have things figured out. It’s okay to feel lost at times. It leads us to new discoveries and growth.

I also had a very special moment while photographing Amanda. That process alone was unique. We drove around the city very late at night. Although it’s a common staple for me, I used no strobes on her shoot and we bounced around looking for little pockets of light here and there.

There was one particular moment when I felt like I really captured her. This is very rare! It’s different than really liking a portrait that you’ve taken. It’s a very specific connection and resinates on an emotional level. When this happens the memory of the moment is incredibly vivid. I first remember the eyes and the emotion displayed in them. I can feel the chill of the air in my lungs and on my skin and how the shutter felt as I squeezed the button. A quick and quiet snap, and you just know that you got it. It’s the moment that you feel like you actually did capture someone’s soul. It’s powerful. A quiet memory that leaves me silent and taken back at the power of human connectivity. In so many ways, it’s why I take portraits.
Amanda’s answers say something to all of us. To the honestly that we don’t always make known but spend so much time quietly thinking about. I hope that you’ll read and consider them.

Love Aimlessly, My Friends


What gets you out of bed every day? 

Probably obligation. I’m trying to become more of a morning person. I spent a lot of years partying and being in the service industry kind of lends you to being an evening person. I feel like the few times that I have been successful in my morning routine has lead to a better day.

What get’s me out of bed is my pursuit of not being a garbage-person. Haha. Trying to get more stuff done and have a more productive day. Even if I have to do some work that I don’t particularly feel passionate about at least I have done things meaningful around that. 

I can’t imagine at this point in my life still just waking up, going to work and going to drink, and going to bed to sleep past noon. That’d be very sad for me now. 

Maybe outside of obligation I think what get’s me out of bed is curiosity. To see what I’m able to make of myself that day. Eh… Nah… I go back to it. It’s really just obligation. 

I feel like I owe it to myself to just get out of bed.


To date, what is the greatest lesson that you’ve learned? 

Patience is a big one I think. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I can find myself being short-tempered about some things, but I’ve impressed myself with how, on the whole, I have really started to understand patience. Being patient with people, my time and other’s time. I think that it’s really important. There are so many different backgrounds and walks of life and if you can just be patient I think that you can get a lot more out of people.

I guess that I most always relate things to human relationships. Ultimately that’s what we do. Just bounce off of one another. If you can learn to be patient with others you can learn so much from them. Just allowing yourself to be in their presence. I’m at a loss of words to eloquently explain how important this is. We just have to be patient and wait and the answers will show themselves.

Something that I need to work more on is making assumptions. I think that if I can work that out I could be very zen. haha. 

You know… I don’t really know if I’m even happy with that answer. I don’t know… Every day is a fucking lesson and not one is really greater than the other. Every fucking day there’s something new to learn. Even if you don’t even realize it. I feel like “patience” is a kind of cop-out answer. 

The greatest lesson that I’ve ever learned is to remember to breath! Just keep fucking breathing! Just very simple. Everything is a lesson.


What is love? 

You know, every moment that I think that I have an understanding of what I think love is I’m wrong. Or not completely right. It’s not black and white. 

Love... I’ve always struggled to define what love is. Maybe love is nothing. Maybe love is everything on the outside that you don’t even know about. Maybe that’s why I don’t get it. 

I don’t know what love is. Every time I think that I understand it I don’t. I will say that the older I get the closer I am. What I think it is today versus what I thought it was 10 years ago; I think I’m just one hair closer. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll be two hairs closer. 

What do people even say love is? For a long time I thought that love was a bunch of bull-shit.  I keep reaching for words to define it… I think that I’m going to stick with “it’s nothing”. “Love is knowing that it’s nothing.”


About Amanda :  Amanda moved around a lot as a kid but has currently made a home in Nashville. She works as a bartender and server. That of course doesn't begin to sum her up. If you wanted to describe her in a short phrase you might choose one like "Real fucking human". 


Lives in Nashville, TN

From Louisville, KY (kind of)