Words Stefania Tejada
Can you tell us a little background info about yourself?
I like to say I am a Costa Rican who was born in NY. My whole family and my background is Central American, so I consider myself from Costa Rica not NY. I lived in NY up until the age of 15 and then moved to Costa Rica, where I graduated high school and went from Med. school to Anthropology to Photography. I had always loved photography, but was a bit afraid of taking it on as my main career, so it took me a bit to realize that photography is what really makes me who I am, I am not really sure what I would do without it. After being in mid studies I decided to take a chance and move to San Francisco California, to attend the Academy of Art University. After almost two years of being in AAU, I decided to drop it, I felt like I wasn't learning anymore, I felt like I needed to really experience the real world to truly get a grasp on what the field is like and that's where I am now. This is where the terrifying, but most fulfilling part of my life begins.
How did you get started in photography?
I pretty much always carried a point and shoot ever since I was like 10, but I’d say I really got started not too long ago. I was kind of afraid of putting my work out there, most of my work was for me, for my own personal growth I guess and it was so personal to me that I did not feel comfortable with sharing it. About a year ago I started to truly put my life and photography out for everyone to see and ultimately share their thoughts on what I'm working on.
How does living in cities like New York, San Francisco and LA helped you develop your own style within photography?
When I moved from Costa Rica to San Francisco it was such a dream for me, it was inspiring and I felt like I could actually be myself and find a place where I could belong! San Francisco has really been a beautiful part of my life, this is where I feel I have grown most, and this is where my heart is right now! I mean it's literally here; this is where I met the love of my life too! It's kind of crazy how life happens, you think you have everything planned out at one point, but then you just discover that it's a passing phase, life is in a constant change for me and I love it! Sure it's up and down, but how boring would it be if it wasn't, right?
How would you describe your aesthetics?
That’s a difficult question for me really because my aesthetics are always changing! My photography is ultimately a reflection of my life thus the ever-changing aesthetics. I 'd say a big constant for me is photographing girls; I love photographing my girlfriends and feel a deeper connection with people I share things in common with. One thing I found myself doing here in the city is just approaching interesting faces on the street and talking to them about a project I have in mind and hopefully later on shoot together!
Tell us about your latest work.
I have been shooting quite a bit more lately and I love it! I decided to leave my day job and travel the west coast with my boyfriend in search for new adventures! San Francisco was great to me, it really has been, but I feel the creative outlet I’ve been in search of isn't here anymore. It has become very expensive and extremely hard for artists, more so with the tech boom too! It saddens me that such a beautiful city has lost its charm, at least that is how I feel.
Do you partake in any other forms of art besides photography?
I love all kinds of artistic mediums; one of my favorites would have to be music! My boyfriend is a musician and I tend to draw a lot of my inspiration from music, more so since I am around it 24/7. One of my favorites is Cocorosie! You should check them out; they are just magical!
How do you interact with colour and how do you choose the palettes you want to use in each project?
My colour palettes are extremely important to me, if they don't feel right I can't work with them. I love pastels and washed out colors.
What do you find in photography that you can’t find elsewhere?
Looking back at your first work, how would you explain your transition and growth as a photographer?
This is actually something that has greatly changed. When I was studying Anthropology I was very into documentary photography and the sense of importance in imagery was something that really captivated me. My photography is a reflection of my life at the moment and to be able to share that is so fulfilling to me now, it was hard to finally get there, but it was worth the wait. So I'd have to say my work went from being just mine and personal to something that still remains personal, but impersonal at the same time because it's shared. I'm not sure if I explained myself well enough, but that's how I feel.
What do you intent to capture from the people you photograph?
I try to capture the models personal style combined with mine. I like to direct, but I feel shoots really become magical when both vibes are connecting.
How much of your work is intentional?
I'd say it's mostly intentionally accidental and sometimes accidentally intentional.
Do you plan the photos you take or do you let the model free and work along with her personality and style?
I plan all of my shoots; I like to be behind all aspects of the shoot. Whether it's styling, makeup or creative direction, I want to be a part of it, that's what really makes me happy! It's funny because for example I recently shot a fellow central American girl and she was surprised to just see me, my camera and the best assistant a girl could ask for, my lovely boyfriend! A lot of the time I like to do everything, it can be a bit hectic, but it's so much fun! I always start off with a mood board and go on from there. My tumblr, @shebreakslikeglass is my gigantic mood board. I've had it for years!
Tell us about your creative process.
Man! My creative process is really hard to put into words, I'm thinking about photography literally ALL of the time, I drive myself and the people around me crazy sometimes! I remember when I first moved to San Francisco I guess I was so overwhelmed with the transition that I fell in a bit of a creative rut, but once that subsided my mind just drove me crazy, in a good way I mean!
Where do your influences originate?
My Costa Rican culture is a big inspiration to me; this is where a lot of my desire to photograph really grew.
What are some of the photographers that have really inspired you?
I remember flipping through BAZAAR magazine being pretty young and this is where fashion photography stood out to me. Names like Diana Vreeland and Richard Avedon come to mind at the moment. I was also very into the Spice Girls when I was younger and they definitely made in imprint; wearing platform sneakers even though I couldn’t really walk in them! I had these great electric blue ones that I would not take off and I also remember I had this super cool Spice Girl Polaroid, I would not let go of that either!
What does your life look like these days?
My life is kind of hectic right now! I have been back and forth, from the Yosemite area to San Francisco. Since I left my day job I am trying to gather enough funds to just go and travel the west coast and am planning on living in the Portland area for a bit. I'm excited to document me and my boyfriends' kind of vagabond life.
What has been the most significant achievement you have accomplished so far?
So far I'd have to say one of the biggest would have to be recently being a published artist!
What kind of cameras do you normally use?
I mostly shoot with my old Vivitar point and shoot, a Nikon F1 and a Nikon D3200.
Do you believe in rules?
Rules are for the weak.
Have you worked with any brands? Who would you like to work with?
I've worked with Manic Panic and local designer brands in Costa Rica. I'm trying to get my work out there and knocking on as many doors as I need to, to make my dreams come true! I'd love to work with so many! I'd love to work for brands such as Acne Studios, Adidas, Converse, Dimepiece, Calvin Klein, Levis, Lazy Oaf, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel and so many more!
What do you think you learned as a photographer from the process? About yourself and your work?
I've learned that when you find something you are really passionate about that's when you understand and can truly be yourself!
What does it take to be a fashion photographer?
Perseverance and patience.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to face in pursuing your dreams?
Oh my gosh, it's been a constant rollercoaster, but I’d have to say one of the hardest decisions for me was when I decided to leave Med. school and pursue photography as my main career.
Have you visit any exhibits lately? What has been the most significant?
I have not been to any exhibits lately; I wish I could've gone to the one that was recently held in NY though, "Girls at Night on the Internet".
What do you see next for your career?
Hopefully being able to live off of my passion without having to work a 9-5!