Amy Elkins


Cedar Street, Ventura, CA. 2010
The back roads of Ventura, en route to the farmers market. My brother is driving. Two children are giggling and chattering in the back seats of the van. The rain slicked roads and overcast sky make me want to curl on the couch and watch movies with Willow and Brynn, holding on to them as long as I can.

Resting with Beulah, 2010

Pacific Ocean, 2009
Whenever I get homesick, I long for the ocean. The power and vastness, the salty endlessness of it... always simultaneously fascinates and terrifies me. Every single time I fly the distance to get back to it's shores, I have to walk upon them with my shoes off and my toes in the salty sand and pebbles. Like a heartache or a song that haunts one of its past, the ocean is an anchor.. always reminding me of what it means to be home, in all of its complicated and loving glory.

Willow, Oxnard, CA. 2006
My brother's first born. Willow Lynn. Born with wild blue eyes and a head of hair. I'm in love with her. When she was a baby she learned to speak in broken bits of English, Spanish and Afrikaan while gesturing with sign language. Here we had been left alone for a few hours. The sun freckling her with light and shadow through the window. I have no clue how to act with a child. I'm both mesmerized and nervous

Mom after overnight visit in the E.R, New York, NY. 2009
They had only been in town for a day. I remember it well. We spent the entire day sightseeing and enjoying ourselves. They came over for dinner at my apartment. We stayed up late before realizing they had to take the subway back to their hotel. I walked them to the corner and before I made it home received a frantic phone call from my stepdad, Marty. My mom had fallen down the subway stairs, breaking her arm and splitting her head open. No station agent had seen them. Nobody was around to help. By the time I ran back to them they were walking slowly, her face covered in blood. The handkerchief covering her head was also soaked in blood.

Pink Flowers, Oxnard, CA. 2007
There's a light that exists here. Warmer than the last. It gets lost somewhere in the 3000 miles that lay diagonally between us. Yellow and fading into the evening.

Brynn, Ventura, CA. 2009

Willow and INSP channel, Oxnard, CA. 2009

Matthew and Brynn, Ojai, CA. 2009
Visits seem to fall further apart as all of us age. Brynn and Willow age rapidly in my absence. Watching the relationship between my brother and his children is fascinating and beautiful. His wife, though shy before the camera, is also beautiful to watch with them. Perhaps one day she'll sit for me.

Orange flowers, Ventura, CA. 2009

Dad, Santa Monica, CA. 2007
Standing along the Pacific Palisades Park, we are leaning on a fence alongside a cliff. The Pacific Coast Highway hums below and the sounds of traffic and ocean merge into one. A meeting point that brings memories to both my father and I for different reasons. He had lived his adult years here, and I, my childhood. We had both seemingly been away for a while and here we are returning.

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA. 2007
The Santa Monica Pier- down the road from where I had grown up, where my mother had grown up, where my father had taken us dancing several times a week, where my grandmother and her original two bedroom yellow house with a picket fence still stood.

Marty, Ojai, CA. 2009
The first portrait I had taken of Marty, was in 1987 with a red plastic camera I had been given for my eighth birthday. We were all in Santa Monica then. My mother and Marty got married shortly after. 19 years later I asked him to sit for a portrait in Oxnard, CA. Afterwards I would photograph him when time permitted. He is always the bedrock in our family. A drug and alcohol treatment councilor, with an immeasurable ability to sit and just listen.

Floral Still life, 2008

Self in Mother's Wedding Dress, 2006
My mother's wedding dress lays folded in a hope chest my grandmother gave me seven years before passing away at the age of 98. Davini Lythgoe had given me a box of home made baby blankets, diapers and hand clothes for my 18th birthday. My mother put her wedding dress in there a few years back. I open it most times I make a visit. On this occasion I tried on the dress and sat with her for a portrait.

Birthday Letter from my father, 2006
My father gave me at least a dozen nick names growing up. "My Amy Florida" being one that was never shaken. He wrote this poem for my 26th birthday.

Make Shift Christmas Tree, Culver City, 2006

Dad, Hollywood, CA. 2007

Grandma Through Julie's Window, Santa Monica, CA. 2006
Through my late aunt Julie's old bedroom window I watch as my grandmother prepares Christmas dinner.

Mother on Couch, Oxnard, CA. 2006
Laying across a sofa in her living room in Oxnard, my mother is quiet and peaceful. We go through unspoken motions from one frame to the next. I'm observing quietly all that shifts, as we grow older upon each returning visit. I transform into her. And her back into me.

Willow, Ventura, CA. 2007
Chalk on concrete. The smell of salt and mountains close by.

Matthew and Brynn, 2007
Less than two months old, Brynn's head sinks back into my brother's arms. Matthew holds him firmly in place, his new son. I notice something new in my brother's face now that he's a father.

Dusk, Santa Monica, CA. 2006
It's Christmas. The dinner table in my grandmother's house stretches from one room to the next to hold us all. The folding chairs brushing up against the piano. It's dusk and I'm outside like a child, peeking through the windows, watching the movement of people that feel as strangers and loved ones all at once.

Sunroof, Pacific Coast Highway, 2006
Driving home from the airport before the holidays, my mother bursts her head out of the sunroof to show me how much warmer the southern California air is. This is the same highway I've been driven up and down since I was 9 years old. The ocean, ancient and endless hugs the cliff to my left. Seemingly the only things changing are the hillsides that slide or catch on fire annually.

Grandma's House, Santa Monica, 2007
The one thing that always stays the same to me. The house smells and feels exactly as it has my entire life. The wallpaper, the old piano, the antique trains, the mint green and yellow paint and that spare bedroom, always feeling intensely alone and quiet.


Where I Found You is a project that explores the notion of long distance relationships to one’s family and to what remains familiar. Having not lived in the same state as my family for over nine years, this series confronts the fluctuations that exist in my absence. Everything and nothing is always the same.



Amy Elkins (b. 1979 Venice, CA) is a photographer and curator currently based in Portland, Oregon, USA. She received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her photographs explore notions of vulnerability, identity and transitory states. Elkins’ earlier work, Wallflower, looked into the nuances of gender identity and the male psyche. In her more recent work, Elkins investigates additional aspects of male identity through projects Elegant Violence, looking to young Ivy League rugby athletes moments after their game and Black is the Day, Black is the Night, which explores masculinity, vulnerability and identity through correspondence with men serving life and death row sentences in some of the most maximum security prisons in the US.

Elkins has been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally, including shows at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria; the Carnegie Art Museum in California; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minnesota; Light Work Gallery in Syracuse; Noorderlicht Gallery in the Netherlands; The National Arts Club, Tina Kim Gallery and Yancey Richardson Gallery among others.

Elkins has been awarded with The Lightwork Artist in Residence in Syracuse, NY in 2011 and most recently the Villa Waldberta International Artist in Residence in Munich, Germany in 2012.

Her work has been published recently in the VICE: fiction issue; Conveyor: Smoke & Mirrors issue; BLINK: issue #15; Contact Sheet: Artist in Residence Annual; Contact Sheet: Looking & Looking; Jen Davis and Amy Elkins: The Portrait. Photography as a Stage From Robert Mapplethorpe to Nan Goldin which coincided with an exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien curated by Peter Weiermair; and The Sports Show: Athletics as Image and Spectacle which coincided with an exhibition at Minneapolis Institute of Arts curated by David Little. Other features include: American Photo, EyeMazing, Harpers, Newsweek, NY Arts, NY Times Magazine, OUT, PDN, POP photo and Vision Magazine. Her writing has been featured in Photographs Not Taken, a book of essays edited by Will Steacy which has had coinciding events and readings across the country including at ICP and PS1Museum and has been reviewed by Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and Times Light Box among others.

In June of 2008 Amy Elkins and Cara Phillips co-founded, a platform for showcasing both established and emerging women in photography. Each year they award one woman artist with the WIP-LTI/Lightside Photographic Project Grant in the amount of $3000.

Elkins is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York.