Profile of a Photographer, Philanthropist and Mama, Amy Martin-Friedman

I worked with Amy almost 10 years ago.  Our lives have since taken us on different paths but a few years ago we got back and touch through Facebook.  It was then that I learned about her project, A Day In My Shoes.  I am inspired by the vision that Amy had and the courage it took to believe in and follow that dream.  Read on for more about Amy, A Day In My Shoes, and Amy’s killer shoe picks.  Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to follow your own dreams!

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Name: Amy Martin-Friedman
Occupation: Freelance Photographer/Philanthropist/Mother extraordinaire
Location: San Francisco/Los Angeles/New York

You are the founder of the A Day In My Shoes Photography Project. Can you tell me more about the project and how it works?

To support victims of domestic violence, I created a project called A Day In My Shoes to give back to communities using images of women in their shoes.

My Shoes work has become an international project, raising more than $100K for shelters during the last 3 years. I partner with a shelter in each city. I photograph 25 to 45 women who financially support the project.  All images are anonymous, meaning I do not show their faces. I photograph 5 additional women from each shelter to be part of the gallery series and a coffee table book. Each participant is photographed in a high fashion shoot, and each writes a story to be shared in the gallery opening and coffee table book. Each woman tells a story of her life; tragedy, loss of job, abuse, trouble with fertility, loss of spouse, etc.

This project is all about inspiration: I ask women to be vulnerable with their words since the photo is anonymous. I want the viewing audience to walk away from my gallery opening knowing that they too could be in any of these women’s shoes. In fact, the greatest gift I’ve been given is from a woman I met at an opening at Fred Segal. She told me she felt like should could be any of these women. That’s the power and the MAGIC about this; it becomes therapy for all involved.

What made you decide to start A Day In My Shoes?

I started this project four years (2009) ago in San Francisco. I wanted to photograph women in high fashion portraits emphasizing their shoes, as I love fashion and shoes in particular, but I’m an architectural photographer first. My biggest supporter, my husband, happens to be a pessimist. He said that there’s no way a woman will buy a photograph of herself in her shoes. I said, “you’re wrong,” and set out to prove myself … and so my quest began.

I gave it more thought, deciding I should give back to women who don’t feel like they have a voice. Drawing from experience, I thought of women who had been abused. When I was married to a man during my mid-twenties, he made me feel so uncomfortable with who I was that I felt like I had lost my soul/sole. I was losing faith in myself, but still managed to find the courage to walk away one day. I got divorced. Never looking back, I didn’t want to tell anyone what had happened. I hated who I had become. Finally, I woke up one morning wanting to take back my life.

So how are shoes connected to this? My shoes provided comfort and confidence, whether having a pair that fit just right or buying a new pair. The feeling that I would get while walking down Fifth Ave. in a new pair of kicks was amazing! Having been a single gal for many years in Chicago and New York, I also thought about the dreaded fourth quarter predicament we single gals face: who will be my special someone during the holidays? Of course the most dreaded of holidays, Valentine’s Day, also raised the question. I asked myself this question, “Why can’t I love myself enough and be my own Valentine?” I decided to forget about waiting for the crazy flowers to show up, go buy myself a new pair of shoes, and fall back in love with me!

I decided to emphasize women’s shoes and stories of giving back to themselves. It seems like a natural connection.

How did you become a photographer?

I received my first camera at 8 years young: a 126 Vivitar point and shoot. I’ll never forget it. I always loved shooting, even with my first little camera

Did you go to school for photography?

I didn’t. I was a business major. I thought that I would never be good enough, never able to make a living to support myself. I joined the military right out of high school. The Air National Guard provided the GI Bill to help pay for college. I worked in Inventory management, which was perfect for me as I loved clothing even if it was gloves and uniforms. In hindsight, I wish I had done combat photography while in the Air Force. I wanted to, but I thought I couldn’t take the time off as I had to start college in the fall and the Air Force photography school was 6 months long.

I went to Tokyo for two years in the early 90s to teach English. I felt deprived of fashion in Tokyo; yes, Tokyo. It was a tough place for me to live in and was especially tough for finding clothes and shoes! I wear a size 8.5 shoe, and there was nary a pair that fit me. So of course, as soon as I landed back in the United States, retail therapy was a necessity for me. And so began my career in retail management.

Any tips for someone who is looking to work in photography?

The tips I have are simple. All of the work has been done, so you need to be creative in your quest to be a good photographer. You are competing with the world. Yes, the world! Everyone is a photographer and everyone thinks they’re a good photographer.

This is a very tough field, and you need to be aggressive to get in there! You will do a lot of work for free to learn the trade. Try to shadow or assist an accomplished photographer.

Realize that you won’t be valued as a service person at times, because you’re just taking a picture and it doesn’t cost you anything. People will think they can buy a camera and do what you do.

However, if you find your heart beckoning like I did and do, you must follow your heart. You may need to have another job at the same time or someone who believes in you (my husband in my case) and supports your dream and it can come true!

As I mentioned to you before, I would like to improve my photography skills for my blog. What is a good ‘starter’ camera? Can I learn how to use it online or should I take a course?

I think if you go to a small class that offers one-on-one personal instruction, you’ll get more out of it. I like Calumet for classes and they offer very small class sizes.

As for a camera, there are many kits that offer good bodies and a good lens to get you going. The Nikon D5000 is a fine kit, and I’m a Nikon girl, so I can only speak to that. Today’s technology makes it hard to make a bad choice.

Most of all, you need to practice! Shoot and shoot some more. Look critically at your images. Decide what you like and don’t like. In addition, spend time learning to use software so you can get the most out of your images.

Your work directly connects women to the shoes they wear and you spend a lot of time around shoes. What trends are you seeing?

When I received the news that I would be doing this with you, I was in New York. I felt like a paparazzi with my iPhone as I shot my favorite trends.

Of course no holiday season would be complete without holiday bling: sparkles on everything including Choos, Balenciaga, LouBous, Mui Mui, and Valentino. The detailing is off the hook and definitely is a “shoe” stopper!

I also saw spikes with Valentino and Christian Louboutin doing a ton of embellishments with spikes going up the heels and font of the boots.

Wedges, wedges, and more wedges! Spring 2013, wedges are back with a vengeance and the designers are being creative, swirling leather in the heels, making them concave where you wonder how will you walk on them? Of course espadrilles are huge for resort time, adding more embellishment on the canvas, and color.

What are your favorite shoe brands and styles? Do you have any pairs you can’t live without?

Well I’m kind of loyal to Prada as they usually are a well-made shoe, with a great platform to add control and less pain to the front of our feet. I will wear them for events and they tend to be okay for 3-4 hours for me.

If I indulge on crazy rocker (which I do do) I love Gucci for the craziness of fringe or more hardcore punk look.

I love Valentino and Mui Mui for evening wear. With that sparkle I feel like Cinderella in them.

I’m becoming a fan of Reed Krakoff as I love his design aesthetic, and the leather and architectural touches are very strong and distinct.

For practical purposes, my “can’t live without shoes” are my Arche boots. They are amazing with the softest leather and beautiful quality. As a busy mom of two little boys and a photographer, these are a necessity.

As for heels, I love my Antelope wedge strappy sandals. They totally rock and keep up with me and my busy life on the hills of San Francisco.

Three pairs of shoes are always in my luggage, as I travel all the time it seems. I have my favorite sparkly evening shoe at the time, usually my Valentino’s. for working and walking the blocks of New York I have my Arche boots, and last, I always have my Sanuuk flip flops. I love these flips! They have a yoga mat sole, and after two days and 70 blocks of walking in NYC, nothing feels better, even in the winter! And when I get on the plane, I’m usually wearing a wedge sandal for LA or my rocker leather Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots for NYC.

It is amazing what a pair of shoes can do for your confidence!

I’ll close with this last thought: I had never spent a lot of money on shoes until about five years ago. I purchased my first pair that represented a lot of money to me, both then and now, a pair of Bruno Frisoni gorgeous 5-inch high, black, strappy, satin platforms.

I wore them for one of my most treasured Shoes show openings in West Hollywood in 2010. I felt for the first time in my life that I had made it! I had done something good, and I felt like a million bucks having my work opening at a beautiful gallery in WEHO! I will treasure those heels for the rest of my life, and maybe someday get them bronzed! But for now, now I still wear them.

I remember a little uppity LA client at my opening saying to me, “That’s the best you got?” referring to my non big name shoes, non red sole shoes. I with all of my confidence said, “Absolutely.”. I will never forget how her words made me feel: it’s not about the brand you wear, it’s about the soul that comes in those soles! If you believe in something so much and you have faith in yourself, you can do anything!

About me:

Amy Martin-Friedman, resides in San Francisco with her husband and two little boys. She is currently working on:

  • A Day In My Shoes New York City book (still need women to participate ). I return Feb 20-24 to finish the project.
  • A Day In My Shoes Pumps and Pups 2 in Beverly Hills. I’ll be in LA Dec 26-Jan 2.
  • A Day In My Shoes Sarasota, shooting spring 2013
  • And just added: A Day In My Shoes Palm Springs. I begin shooting Dec 15-16 this month. This will be my 14th series/coffee table book for A Day In My Shoes!

For more information about A Day In My Shoes, go to

A few of Amy’s favorite shoes right now:

Valentino Stud


Alexander McQueenAlexander McQueen

Givenchy WedgesGivenchy

Sophia WebsterSophia Webster

Givenchy HeelsGivenchy


2 responses

  1. Awesome story, awesome cause, and even more awesome super mom/photographer/philanthropist……….proud to call you my friend!!!!

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