While she doesn’t have pink hair you can often see her sporting various wigs around a convention armed with a DSLR as well as a phone camera.
Amy Twiest was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan. In 2015 (now Amy Wyma) she had just recently made the decision to graduate from College despite not finishing her degree in American Sign Language Interpreting.
Sometimes when you don’t know what to do with yourself you go back to what you know. For me, that was writing and photography.
She began writing again and taking her husband’s Nikon D40 out and taking photos. This went on for a few months before, in the Spring of 2015 a family tragedy brought her back on a 60 mile bus ride to stay with her sister (Molly) who had recently begun her BA in business. While staying there she distracted herself with chatting amiably with her sibling, showing her what the past few months had achieved. As business major, Molly saw not just photos but works of art that could be made into a successful business.
After taking the advise and modeling some ideas after her primary business model inspiration from the photographer who’d done her wedding (Lisa Sheppard “Sun Drawn Miniatures”). And thus, Twisted Focus Photography was born.
She had no solid portfolio aside from some pet photos, a hand full of scenery and some cosplay photos from a few years previously are all that were to be had. But after a give-away a surprising client emerged, one that had helped shape her as a person since elementary school: the anime and manga community. Cosplayers and cosplay had always been something that drifted in and out of Amy’s life. Oddly enough it suited her preferred style of odd angles and helped fuel her practical education. This combined with her education in freelance business practices helped Twisted Focus begin to flourish.
As time passed she got more and more requests and she started to struggle from trying to do too many at once. It was at this time that she began thinking of adding others to help. In June of 2017 she was enlisted as a staff member with JAFAX to cover the Grand Rapids based anime convention. It was the biggest job she’d ever been hired to do. She teamed up with her husband who would record events and would capture small videos of outstanding cosplays and a newly graduated student named Kelli who would be the only other photographer. It was a long and amazing weekend. But it was during that weekend that she made the decision that she would like to expand how much could be covered.
At the following meeting for JAFAX she introduced her first protege, Naomi Locklin. Naomi is soon joined by a second photographer, Jonathan Hampton, who’s wedding was covered by the duo just before the official announcement was made.
It was at this point that Amy decided to make official announcements on who she wanted to help represent her company.
Her choices included:
Ricky Wyma (her husband) who had created the TF logo, assisted in teaching her the basics of photoshop and he had taken it upon himself to be not only an in-house Graphic Designer but also the resident videographer.
Ashley Lemin who had assisted in several special effect projects in the past and had been good friends with them since attending college with Ricky at Kendall.
Naomi Locklin who had met the couple shortly after Amy had graduated and begun her business through mutual friends and had caught Amy’s eye during a wedding when she’d been short handed.
Johnathon Hampton who had been friends with Amy since college and had eagerly wanted to learn from her and showed great promise.
It was not long after that the most recent addition to the TF team also joined. Lacey Hampton (John’s wife) joined a few meetings giving suggestions that helped really fuel the business side work in harmony with the artistic side. It was something that she’d been struggling with after having to focus on the business side which felt tiring and was taking from the original passion she had. It also filled another gap that had been the fact that she had such a good resource out in Lansing (John) but no contacts in which to have him utilize his services for. 60 miles was a long way with growing car issues and gas prices. Lacey was already familiar with the area and with John, lived in Lansing. To Amy, it was a move that felt important.
In March of 2018 Amy filed Twisted Focus Photography LLC and her other business Aperture of the Black Cat (Meant to house photography and videography not connected to the anime and manga community) as a DBA. Before she’d not been making enough to have it be anything other than reported personal income. Now taking the leap of growing the business and not wanting to risk losing the rights to the names it was a huge step that added both feelings of officiality and stress.
It’s an adventure that has yet to end but her favorite moments above all else are those moments where she gets to take out her camera and try new angles and techniques she’s seen or come up with while she’s drifting off to sleep.