Meet dragonfly print artist Amanda Dzananovic
As the photographer behind this season’s Blue Morpho Dragonfly Print and a renowned Instagram yogi, Amanda Dzananovic is a source of infinite inspiration for Team SB. She calls home the west coast of the US and combines all manner of responsibilities including motherhood, a master’s degree in the Science of Management and an ongoing career in photography. And it’s her finger that clicked down on the dragonfly shot that evolved into one of Spring Summer 15’s most iconic prints. Read on to find out more about her creative background and inspiration…
Amanda wears the Chaturanga Yoga Vest and Bikram Yoga Shorts
Tell us about the dragonfly photograph. Where and how did you take it?
I was shooting insects one late summer afternoon in a Minnesota prairie – it was a really windy day and capturing clear shots was difficult because of all the movement. When I’d almost stopped taking photos, I happened upon a dragonfly that was resting in the sun on some oak leaves on the ground. Having the rare opportunity to get so close, I must have taken 200 shots of the little guy, marvelling at his complex eyes and panelled wings like stained glass. I was truly enamoured.
When did you first develop an interest in photography?
I’ve always had a passion for the beauty of nature and trying to visually capture and share what I see with others. I grew up in a “hollow” in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and was surrounded by nature as a kid. That fascination just never left me, and it has grown into one of my favourite hobbies. I’m especially fascinated by macro photography – studying things we’ve never before noticed, even when they’re right under our noses.
What kind of creative inspiration do you seek from nature?
I love the juxtaposition of the natural world when it’s beautifully ordered and completely wild all at the same time. I’m definitely a procedural type-A person, so the organisation of nature is really beautiful to me – the life cycle of an insect, the order of seasons in a year, the fractal patterns that occur in plants, the physics that silently guide it all. But I’m equally inspired by the wildness of it – the fascinating combinations of all of these elements in different ecosystems, and the mysteries like where mushrooms “decide” to grow.
As an avid yogi, does fitness go hand in hand with your creative fulfilment?
Absolutely! Prior to discovering that yoga went well beyond Downward Dog, I mostly lifted weights and did basic calisthenics for fitness. Consequently, I was never really inspired by working out; it was always a “job” to complete with whatever reps and sets I had planned for the day. But when I discovered the true depth of yoga and how there is always some new leg of the journey to be explored, it opened a whole new dimension of fitness possibilities.
Yoga also has an aesthetic beauty that appeals to my passion for art. In order to achieve certain lines and angles of poses, I have to develop specific strength, flexibility and endurance. There is a beautiful orchestration of focus and dedication behind each asana, and I became fascinated with the intensity and patience required to execute the flows and poses smoothly and consistently. Yoga is also about all the in-between goodness – about enjoying and absorbing all the moments it takes to arrive at a pose. Ultimately, yoga involves my mind – it is wonderfully stimulating, therapeutic, and a natural way to amplify creativity.
What is your favourite yoga pose, and what do you love about it?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but the pose with which I most closely identify is Urdhva Kukkutasana (Lifting Lotus). It took me a long time to develop the patience and focus for it. It took a certain amount of strength for sure, but the patience and focus were also key. If I tried to push into it with my mind set only on the end product, it wouldn’t happen. If I tried to enter it with any doubt, it wouldn’t happen. I could only think of it and exist in it as each second unfolded – nothing further. The balance of that asana really unlocked something deeper in my practice because it was much more of a mental challenge than a physical one – finding balance in it, and variations of it, made me approach my practice with much more presence in the moment. It took a lot of falling to get to that understanding; it’s been incredibly humbling for me, but wonderfully enriching.
Where is your favourite place to practise, and what is its significance to you?
I could practise anywhere and be perfectly happy, but I think my favourite spots are the ones that are rather blank and empty. Those “blank canvas” areas are like wide open pages to write movement across. In areas that are busy with background visuals and sounds, I feel more like I’m “colouring-in” something that’s already drawn – still fun, but I really enjoy the complete freedom and autonomy that comes with making shapes and movement in an empty room or space.
Do you have a power song you like to listen to when you’re training?
Machine Head by Bush! Anytime I have to pump out reps of anything, sprint, or inject every ounce of effort I’ve got, that’s what I play. I can’t listen to it and not want to bust out 50 pull-ups!
As an artist and an athlete, are you inspired by the combination of art and activewear? How do you feel about prints and patterns on clothing?
Absolutely. If we feel good in what we’re wearing, we perform better – there’s something visceral about that connection. I don’t consider myself a “yogi” in the true definition, but rather an “artist who loves yoga”. I love connecting the dots of aesthetic beauty with fitness performance. For me, joining the worlds of art and fitness is my ultimate meditative happy place; it’s combining two of my greatest passions into one. I find evolving photography into patterns that will complement the human body throughout movement to be awesomely stimulating as a creative outlet. And I love transforming and breathing movement back into those patterns through athletic performance! Art woven into art, moving to create art… How could I be anything but completely in love with that?!