Thursday, October 9, 2008

Focus On: ValeriaH

ValeriaH is fairly new to Etsy, although she seems to be creating quite a buzz with her unique style of photography. Her still life studies have a dreamlike quality that combines wistfulness, a touch of sadness and beautiful composition. She also takes interesting images of people in water, and they have an otherworldly look to them that catches the eye. I was intrigued when I saw her first image, and I asked Valeria, who lives and attends school in southern Florida, to share a bit about what drives her artistically. Here is our conversation:

Ann Wilkinson: Your Etsy shop profile says you are a graphic design student. How did you get into the art track with your education?

Valeria H: Well, I started college having no idea what I wanted to focus on. I always liked art, but I wasn't particularly passionate about anything. I got a small digital camera for Christmas a few years ago and became obsessed with photography. It changed the way I saw everything, and I become more interested in design and the visual arts. I started taking art classes and that's when I became interested in getting a degree in graphic design. I love it so far!

AW: Can you describe a specific experience or a specific medium you have become turned onto as a result?

VH: When drawing or designing, I compose things in my head the way I would with a photograph. I feel like photography has really influenced my other work. For example, when designing I have started to use a lot of the same characteristics from the style of photography I love to do.

AW: Yes, I can see that in your images. Your body of work in your Etsy shop is an interesting mix of still life and human portraits -- humans against the elements, water and urban life. How do you feel when you are putting together your shots with people? And, is that you in the photographs?

VH: Thank you! I really enjoy taking shots with people. I think it adds a new atmosphere and life to the pictures. When taking shots with people I try to focus on capturing the light and mood that made me want to take it in the first place. Some of the people you see in the pictures are of me and some are of my twin sister.

AW: What kind of mood are you in when you see these photo opportunities? Does your mood change as a result of capturing the image?

VH: I see photo opportunities all the time. Usually I'm in a relaxed mood when I take them. I like taking pictures when I'm alone, and I think that is captured in the quiet, reflective mood of some of my pictures.

AW: And for your water shots: where are you, the photographer, during these shots? Do you do much post-processing to get the delicate, flowy look you achieve?

VH: These were taken with my sister in a pool while I stood above. I didn't do a lot of post-processing to these besides cropping and playing around with the colors in Photoshop. It was mostly how the dress flowed and the water that helped achieve the look.

AW: On a more practical note, do you use a tripod and timer along with a longer exposure to capture the night photos?

VH: I have a tripod but rarely use it. I usually balance my camera on any surface or just hold it myself. All of my pictures, except for the one of some city lights (Diptych, first photo at the top), are taken with sunlight. A lot of them seem like night photos because they are taken indoors with only some light shining through. I love low light pictures!

AW: Do you intend to take your graphic design and photography education and experience into your career?

VH: I would love to make all this into a career someday! But I don't have any solid plans yet. I'm just going to see what happens!

See more from Valeria at her Etsy shop, Flickr stream and blog.

Thank you Valeria!

A world traveler and self-taught photographer, look for Ann wandering around city streets and tromping through woods and hiking trails with her camera. After owning an international transportation business for many years, Ann has found her creative spirit again through the lens. See more at Ann's shop and her website.


Karen Casey-Smith said...

Wonderful interview! Thank you Ann, for introducing Valeria's work to me. Her images are incredibly beautiful. These aren't the kind of images where you give a quick look and move on: they really draw me in and hold my attention.

Valeria said...

Thank you so much for featuring me, Ann! :) And thank you, Karen! So glad you like them. :)

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Valeria's work is stunning. Thank you for sharing an in-depth view of her work and her vision.
Peace, Judi