Get To Know Alexandra Valenti, Volcom Women's Photographer
For our Volcom Women’s x Lomography photo contest we asked our favorite fashion photographer, Alexandra Valenti, to be a guest judge! For those of you who haven’t entered our contest yet, enter here! For those of you who haven’t gotten to know miss Alexandra, keep reading to see our exclusive interview with her.
Hey Alexandra, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! How did you first get into photography? Was it something you always dreamed of doing?
AV It started when a childhood friend of mine, who was about 9 years older than me, gave me a book of Henri Cartier Breton’s photographs when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Bresson was known for the ‘decisive moment’, (the in between moment) and that has had an enormous impact on my own photography and art. I always took photographs, but always thought I would be a cinematographer. But as I got older and started assisting, I realized I could maybe make a living being a photographer. It just took a while ;)
What inspires you when taking photos? Do models have a certain influence on your photography?
AV Yes, models are very important. But it’s really more about the whole setting. The set, the story, the clothes… It starts with a feeling. I’m actually more inspired by color, shape and pattern first, then it’s the person I am photographing. It’s probably my design background.
What is your favorite fashion era?
AV OH that’s a hard one. I would say I am more inspired by much older eras than I am by anything happening currently. It’s so far removed from my experience that I can fantasize about what it was like. And plus I just think the clothes were better in say the 30s, 40s and 50s. And in photographs, it just immediately looks so classic and cinematic.
What are your favorite film cameras?
AV I have a few favorites. I have a Pentax 645 that I still use on every shoot. And I love my Hasslblad 503. And old polaroid land cameras. And I love the Pentax 67. It’s super heavy but the images are so stellar. And the Mamiya RZ 67 is well, the beast that makes everything look incredible.
We noticed that a few of your pieces contain your artwork as well. When did you start combining the two together?
AV I started about 6 or 7 years ago I think? It was really born out of frustration of not being able to paint enough and this seemed like a perfect solution to combine the two mediums.
In what ways do you try to stand out from other photographers?
AV I don’t really think too hard about what other photographers are doing. I love other photographers but I just have to focus on what I’m trying to say and achieve aesthetically. I feel like I’m constantly evolving. I have a long way to go before I will ever feel like my work is up to par. I will look at stuff I shot even last year, and want to throw away my whole portfolio. I just know I can do better and I feel an intense drive to push myself further.
What advice do you give to aspiring photographers out there?
AV Shoot all the time and keep trying to do something different. Stay away from Instagram because it’s making everyone’s work look the same. I see trends happening, people ripping off other photographers, and no one is thinking for themselves. Not everyone of course. But there is definitely this collective “unconscious” (although I don’t know how unconscious it it) that is producing similar work. I tend to not look at Instagram very much these days. I definitely post my work but then I jump off. It’s too much. It’s hard to not be affected by it. And lastly, I think, just do it because you love it and it makes you happy. Eventually work will come. If you are passionate, people will recognize that it’s authentic and original