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The 505 - Amadeus Leitner


1. Where did you grow up and how did you come to live in New Mexico?
I was born in Chimayó, a small town in Northern New Mexico at the foot of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. The light and landscape are unusually inspiring there, and I was definitely moved by them while growing up. My sense of belonging was strengthened by being a 14th generation “Chimayoso”. I always reasoned that the unique beauty of Northern New Mexico was what grounded my ancestors here. It’s definitely what inspires me today to continue on celebrating this landscape as a part of who I am. I love the scent of the sage and piñon, the hue of the soft pink sand, the rocks glinting with flakes of mica, the crisp evening air, and the stunning view of the milky-way in the night sky. I’ve traveled some of the most beautiful places around the world, but I have yet to find this land’s equal.
amadeus Leitner Photography
2. What lessons has photography taught you? 
I have a background in art and architecture, in which photography has played a major role. I would call myself an artist, and photography is one part of my holistic artistic vision. I’ve learned that photography has unique strengths to harness in pursuing that vision. It has been a very liberating art form because it’s a very quick and effective design-study tool to explore ideas. Photography helps me to see what is, drawing helps me to imagine what can be, 3D modeling helps me to define what I’ve imagined in physical space, and then photography helps me to document what manifests all over again. 
One of the things I love about my work in Architectural photography is that I get to experience great designs by documenting them in great detail.  I get to learn from them in a way that experientially informs my own design thinking. The camera is a very valuable learning tool in this way. 
Amadeus Leitner Photography
3. What person has most influenced you, or your photography? Can you tell me about him or her?
My late grandfather Arthur Usner, inspired me through his example of unending curiosity. He exemplified a lifestyle of learning, experimenting, making, refining process, and sharing the results with enthusiasm. After a successful career as an electrical engineer at Los Alamos National Lab, his hobbies included building his own radios and telescopes, mastering  the art of bonsai, exploring the wilderness, ornithology, native plant botany, and great poetry. Above all I’ve come to recognize that the greatest gift he gave me was fostering my own thirst for knowledge, and imbuing me with the confidence to learn and enjoy anything I put my effort towards. 
amadeus Leitner Photography
4. Do you have any passions or talents outside of your work?
I love playing & composing music, learning new instruments and improvising music with other friends. I mostly play electric bass, jazz upright bass, and synthesizer. Music is a physical, sensory and emotional experience. When I play my heartbeat and breathing synchronize and I move with intuitive energy, improvising rhythm and melody, evoking emotion and transforming my being. That may seem far-out, but for me music is an experiential medium that transcends the limitations of visual art, activating a third-eye. I return to my music when I need to be reminded of how important it is to experience by listening, rather than seeing. 
amadeus Leitner Photography
5. If you could photograph anyone or anything living now or at any point in history, who would it be and why? What camera would you want to use?
I’m not sure that there I can pinpoint a specific person or point in history, as much as how I would like to capture whatever it is.  Right now scientists like Steven Brumby at LANL are working on synthetic cognition, or teaching computers how to see. This research has created new sensory devices that could be used in an artistic way. Wouldn’t it be amazing to use the latest 360-degree HD 3D multi-spectrum laser-scanning light-field device to capture beautiful landscapes in New Mexico, an earth-set from the moon, or a flight though Jupiter’s atmosphere?