My name is Clara Alvarez-Alonso and I’m a photographer/videographer with a lot to learn, from Spain. I’ve lived in Miami for over 10 years now and my hope is to be able to live off of my camera in the future. Art has given me everything growing up and it’s something I’ve been able to rely on in the good and not so good times. I feel grateful to be able to express myself creatively through this means

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I don’t usually use rules in art. I try to be disciplined and take my camera with me as much as I can but I don’t set rules. I imagine the more experienced I get, the more rules (or rather guidelines) I’ll develop. In terms of discipline I try to not let an SD card go more than a week without editing the pictures on it. I used to go months without editing and then would have to edit 5,000 pictures on one sitting.That would make me want to stop shooting for a while cause I would get so burnt out. Now, I edit the same day and if not, the same week to keep myself consistent.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

Definitely in editing there is. You have to experiment with your editing app and play around until you create your own style. I don’t think I have a set style yet but I’m coming closer to it everyday. I used to be frustrated because for how much I love black & white, I was never happy with my own b&w images. I finally found a couple settings to play around with that will create black & white images I’m happy with.

As far as with photography, it helped me a lot to learn how to shoot film because you understand light a lot more. Becoming well versed in ISO, shutter speed and aperture is going to be a game-changer. Try to pay attention to leading lines and the rule of thirds too, I’ve found that just knowing about them helps me see things differently.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

A little over a year ago I traveled to Costa Rica with a close friend that’s also an artist. I was used to shooting street and I always disliked highly saturated photos. When I left this town, I came back with the most colorful roll of pictures I had ever taken. I didn’t raise the saturation but I allowed for natural saturation to happen and the colors of these pictures were incredible. It brought me closer to nature and made me see the natural beauty that colorful landscape photography has. That trip opened my eyes to the world of photography in a way that nothing else had. I still go to those pictures to feel like I am in that place, with those beautiful sunsets and blue nights.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

When I was shooting street more than anything, I found myself getting caught by my subjects at times. If I’m taking a picture of a baby, for instance, I don’t want to ask the mother for permission because then the whole environment changes. It becomes more forced and posed. In that case I’ll usually take the picture and afterwards ask the mom if it’s ok that I keep it (I also offer to send it to them). A couple times it has happened that I’m shooting adults and they catch me and they either get really pissed off or ask me to delete it. I hate having to delete pictures. It makes them feel uncomfortable, it makes you uncomfortable, it’s just a lose-lose situation.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I mostly shoot street, lifestyle and surf. I get the most inspiration from traveling but all my trips are very different. If I’m going on a beach-trip with a group of friends I will likely concentrate on their expressions and the landscape to create a story. It all comes down to story-telling. If I’m going to New York or another metropolitan city, my pictures will most likely be street pics of strangers doing their own thing. The key is to renounce to your environment and be an observer. It’s about paying attention to every little thing, sound, and smell that is happening around you. You are the vessel, the subject and environment are the ones with a story to tell. Your only job is to let them live through you.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

When I’m getting hired to do a photoshoot, I usually like to bring a speaker and play hits to get the subject to loosen up and feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I’m loyal to Fujifilm. I love the way their cameras look, the way they shoot and the quality of the color in the pictures. I’m a big fan of film cameras and this is the perfect transition to the digital world, having the aperture on the lens. I shoot everything on manual and Fujifilm is the right brand to do that with. I currently have the XT-2 and the XT-4. I kept the XT-2 so I could buy an underwater housing (Meikon Seafrog) and use it as my underwater camera. I’m not a big fan of other cameras made for the water like GoPro. They’re fine to document yourself but I rather use my Fuji to document others.

Are there any books you would recommend?

I’m currently reading a book recommended to me by a photographer I look up to called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. I think this book is an absolute weapon for artists to use. It will make you a better, more disciplined, artist. I also recommend the movie The Bang Bang club. It’s based on the true story of four photojournalists documenting the apartheid in South Africa.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

Other artists inspire me. Better artists inspire me. Nature and people inspire me. Everyone has a story to tell and I feel humbled when people come to me to let me be the vessel that shares their message. I love being the one that documents memories and people I love within my group of friends. Street photography is probably what stimulates my creativity the most. I love nature but being in a busy city brings out my better creative self. I become an observer and see so many little things in my subjects that might go unnoticed. New York City has always been the vessel of my inspiration to shoot street so going back there from time to time is very special to me.

Clara Alvarez-Alonso