Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"I Make Pictures" Elisa Lazo de Valdez

Elisa Lazo de Valdez:
"Photographer, mother, wife, artist, marathon dreamer, peanut butter devotee. I make pictures."

Elisa was born in Lima, Peru in 1967. Named after a mermaid she was destined to have a magical view of the world around her. Initially photography was only a reference for her illustration projects but soon began to appeal to her inherent creativity. Having worked in the design and advertising field early in her career she is strongly drawn to the balance of graphic shapes and the strength of color and contrast.

Heavily influenced by the pagan aspects of Catholic iconography, mythology, the Art Deco and Art Nouveau aesthetic and the art of the Pre-Raphaelite movement her work reflects dark sensuality, mythology and luxury of form. A traditional film photographer for a decade, she embraced digital photography after experimenting with color and post production and realizing the medium translated her artistic vision perfectly. Her images are often described as dark fairytales, dream like and surreal and much of her work focuses on themes of being lost, hidden and disguised.

Was photography your first love?

No, drawing was my first love, and still is really. Photography was a required class in art school and for a long while I simply used my photos as reference material for my illustrations. At some point the photographs were complete images on their own.

What is your favorite Website or Blog besides your own? Your is stunning by the way.

That's a hard one, because there are my favorites based on content and my favorites based on design. I will have to say the sites that stick in my mind are for it's wonderfully surreal atmosphere and because she is one of my absolute favorite illustrators and because he is a genius.

Can you explain a little of how you prepare of a shot?

In essence I don't. The process involves myself absorbing ideas and inspiration and influences, normally from illustrators, and buying odds and ends and props and fabrics that I think are interesting or beautiful. When the model walks through the door I shuffle through my inventory of ideas and props in my mind at high speed and pretty much decide at that point what I want to shoot. I may have a half a dozen locations in mind and decide then dependent on the weather and the styling concept where we will shoot.

Where is your dream vacation destination?

Oooh - I would love to go back to Barcelona but at this point I will say Italy since I haven't been there and historically and artistically I would say it's a must for any creative person.

Tell us about the tarot project with your husband, Phillip Valdez.

That was something that started pretty much by accident about five years ago. He had made some paper masks for a Halloween Party we attended at the Seattle Art Museum on a whim having never crafted anything like that before and won first place. About five years after that I asked him to make a sun mask for a photo shoot with the idea it was a one time thing but the images were so great and I personally like to work in themed series that I decided the sun mask would be a great launching pad for the Tarot. Unfortunately that project had taken a back burner to other things so it may never see completion. Maybe when we retire!

Your photographs are unnervingly sensual. What element distinguishes your work from other photographers.

I am asked this question often and after pondering the answer for some time and getting feedback from other creative friends the best explanation I can give is that my photos are not about the person or body in the picture. The model is a prop just as the octopus or mask or paint is a prop and they exist on the same value level. It is not a photo of separate elements (beautiful woman and some props) but a cohesive image that integrates all the different elements into one idea. I also think lighting is the absolute most important part of an image be it natural or studio. I still think of myself as an illustrator and tend to shoot images that are very painterly.

1 comment:

  1. I spent an hour and a half looking at 99 rooms. GENIUS.

    I adore Ray Caesar work. Mesmerizingly haunting and gorgeous.