Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what kind of schooling/training did you receive, what type of photography do you create?
I grew up in LA and traveled a lot with my family, though as a child I was greatly inspired by my travels. Australia and particularly Queensland were extremely influential in my love for island life and the beach. I am self-taught except for two photography classes that I took in high school. I had an amazing teacher who encouraged me to follow my own instincts and talent rather than let someone else shape it. In college I just kept shooting film. I tried to double major in Biology and Photography but unfortunately I couldn't because the classes conflicted so I went with Biology. I did end up taking an internship with a wonderful and well known nature photographer, Kennan Ward, who was crucial in cultivating my eye and expanding my vision. He would lay out 300 slides on a table from a shoot and tell me, “You have one minute to find the one that would be featured in National Geographic!” Somehow I always managed to get it right!
My style as of now is vintage beach. And more recently I find my photography is moving into more of a dreamy washed out look. I love it when photographs transport you to another place or capture your imagination. It's one of the reasons I rarely shoot recognizable people. I like to leave it up to my viewers to create what they are seeing and experiencing from my images. My viewfinder series allows for such creativity and imagination it's fun to create new images. I never get tired of it.
Please explain the inspiration of the ocean and water where does that come from?
I spent a great deal of time at the ocean when I was a child. My mother would take my brother and I there as much as possible. If you can believe it, I swam before I could walk. I think my love for the ocean comes from my childhood. Those days running free on the beach. It's hard to remember a time since then, where I felt such freedom. I always feel at home when I go to the beach. No matter what is going on it just speaks to me and says, "life is good, it's all okay". When I visited Queensland at ages six and ten I remember swimming around the Great Barrier Reef when nobody was around. It was wild back then when the islands were deserted. Then at age twelve I went to Mombasa, Kenya and it was breathtaking. The sand was so hard you could use sail boards on it and there were camels everywhere. It was so strange to see camels on the beach! I was also profoundly inspired by the wild coastal beaches of Ireland where I spent many summers as a teenager horse back riding along the 40 mile beaches. And I have to mention Maui. It was my most recent trip and I'm dying to go back. The beaches there are just magnificent.
Do you think that being a photographer is a talent you are born with or is it something that can be taught?
I think photography can't be taught. I think you have a way of seeing and you can nurture, cultivate and explore, but you can't teach someone how to see. People ask me all the time to teach them photography and I just say, "You hit that button, end of lesson".
What images or places have you NOT shot or what locations or themes are you looking forward to working with in the future or would like to try?
I'm looking forward to learning more about Photoshop and using textures, layers, filters, etc. I resisted the digital world for a long time, because I didn't want to let go of the developing process. Hours spent in a dark room and that wonderful sound of the click your camera makes when you take a picture. It's all different now. That said, without the internet and digital photography I would never be where I am today. I am extremely grateful for today’s technology. That's probably why I love TTV images. You feel as if it's still old school. I'm on board now and much more excited to learn all this new technology. As far as where I'd like to go? Everywhere. I love Greece, I'd like to go there and shoot it TTV style.
If you did not become interested in photography what do you think you would be doing now?
I studied Marine Biology so I'm sure I’d be off swimming with dolphins somewhere.
What piece took you the most time to expose or shoot and why did it take so long?
One of the prints that took the longest to create is my 4 feet by 6 feet wrapped canvas print of BLAH BLAH BLAH. It was incredibly difficult to get that particular image to stay sharp and clean but it came out fantastic. It's one of my favorites.
What is the best and worst advice someone gave you while working as a photographer?
The best advice I ever received was "look don't think". The worst advice I ever received wasn't really advice but was being told over and over again when I was young by many different people, "you know you'll never make money at that". It's a good thing I didn’t listen to any of the bad advice.
What is your favorite color or color combinations you like working with?
My favorite color is blue. Lately though I'm gravitating towards washed out looks that are soft and dreamy. It's completely against my nature but once I'm finished working on an image like that it changes everything. Something inside me stirs and falls in love with it. When I Was Just A Girl is an example of that. It just takes me to another place.
What artists and/or designers inspire you?
My mom is my inspiration. She is the most talented and creative artist I have ever met. She has been my biggest inspiration and my most most valued teacher.
If you could hang your photography anywhere in the world where would you love to have it shown?
Having Owen Wilson buy my handmade surfer ornaments, last Christmas was a quite a thrill. I would say if I could have a show anywhere it would have to be LACMA. I love it there and spent a lot of time there as a child. Or I will settle for Brad Pitt's house! He's actually a pretty talented photographer, I'd love to talk shop with him.
Does your home reflect who are as a photographer?
My home décor definitely reflects some of my style. It's very simple and classic bohemian ala Anthropologie. My work is everywhere. I'm particularly fond of the huge 4 feet by 6 feet canvases around my house that I did from a trip to NY on NY Street Art. These reflect another part of my style that I would love to do more of. It's completely opposite to all my beach work and would look great in modern lofts.
Thanks to Bueller Designs.
For next weeks Trending Post we will feature anther interview by Los Angeles based ceramicist Moye Thompson.
"Trending" is a weekly report from Vanessa De Vargas, owner of Turquoise, a Los Angeles furniture and interior decor business.