Chris Amato is an outdoor enthusiast and traveler with a passion for marketing. He is a self-taught photographer and videographer based out of North Georgia.
Q. Last year you traveled to over 30 States and Canada, what was the inspiration for that trip? Were you traveling solo?
A. I was living in an apartment just north of Atlanta paying $1,200 for rent every month. This was a huge waste because most of my days were spent mountain biking and doing photo/video work; the apartment was really just a place to rest my head at night. It didn't really make sense to me, so I broke my lease and converted my truck into a home-on-wheels. Since my work is primarily freelance, I was able to plan my travels in-between projects.
The journey was primarily a solo trip, but I met up with friends and family along the way. The best part about traveling is always the people you meet while on the road, and I still keep up with a lot of them.
Q. I love that you took the initiative to step out and change your environment, how did you like life on the road?
A. Life on the road is spectacular. There's nothing like it. Exploring and experiencing new cultures is a passion of mine, and every day was an adventure in a new world. It was a great method of self-discovery - something I learned to appreciate greatly. What was most exciting was how unpredictable it was - rarely knowing where I was going to sleep, who I was going to meet, or where I'd be headed to next. It changed my whole outlook on life.
Q. What surprised you the most in that season?
A. What surprised me the most was how many people were doing the same thing - traveling long-term around the country taking it one day at a time. I must have met a couple dozen “van-lifers” at least - a lot of photographers and other artists who could work remotely on the road. Some were even ex-lawyers and engineers - they just saved up and lived on the road. It was awesome.
Q. Growing up you think that way of life and adventure dried up after the 70’s and 80’s but you come to realize it never really went away. That style of traveling and living for a season will always be appreciated by those who want a simpler life and value the time it allows them to spend in the outdoors. Do you think you’ll embark on a similar or larger scale trip in the future?
A. Definitely true - we all seemed to have a hint of hippie spirit in us. I'm always out exploring, but it would be awesome to head out on a large scale trip again. It's always in the back of my mind - just a matter of planning and execution. I never made it to the Pacific Northwest; that's next on the list.
Q. We like to talk about Honoring Your Wild here at Buffalo Jackson, what comes to mind when you hear that phrase?
A. The first thing that comes to mind is a social theory called the Mismatch Theory. It’s based on the idea that humans in modern civilizations are living in an environment that is totally different than the environment that they were intended to live in. In advanced cultures (like America), a lot of people do not have to physically work for food or work with their hands or even move their bodies very much throughout the day. Many neurological and physical processes go untapped because they are no longer "needed”, and it often leads to poor mental and physical health. In my opinion, to honor your wild, you have to tap into your primitive hard-wiring whenever you can. I like to get outside, use my body and keep it mobile, eat (relatively) well, and I like to put myself in situations where I have to trust my own judgement.
Q. I love that you describe it that way, it immediately made me think of a quote by Stephen Ken, “Don’t live to get money. Have a few things but make them good things. Take care of them. Learn how they work. There’s beauty in the smell of good machines and old leather.” The process of learning and growing continuously throughout life is so important. Have you had someone in your life set that example of continual growth and personal development?
A. That's a great quote. I definitely buy into the "Have a few things, but make them good things." mentality. I think I get my entrepreneurial spirit from my mom’s side of the family - her six brothers and my grandfather have always had a welcoming attitude towards problem-solving and personal growth. My father is also an engineer, and I’ve learned to appreciate the value of education and resourcefulness from him as well.
Q. You capture the landscapes and people you find yourself beside with a very curious and analytical eye, what made you first pick up a camera and what can you attribute your personal style to most?
A. Thank you! Cameras have always fascinated me. As a kid, my friends and I would make movies with my family’s camcorder, but when point-and-shoot cameras came out, my attention switched to taking photos. I started pursuing photography and videography as a profession 3 years ago, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Shooting photo and video as an art is great, but knowing that my work is used objectively to help businesses grow makes it much more satisfying.
My style has been called “organic”, and I think it suits me well. In my mind, it is attributed to the fact that I’m not a fan of posing or much orchestration. When shooting photos or video, my goal is to never contrive or force anything, but let it happen as naturally as possible.