Alayna Vance is a featured artist in our University Student Show and is a Film Club Member! The photos that she submitted to the show were really compelling so we wanted to share more of her work with the community and also wanted to get to know her a bit more through an interview.
Q: What got you interested in photography?
A: Initially, I quickly became hooked on learning more in high school when I joined Yearbook. My mom also took pictures of my brother and I in sports, so it was something that was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I did not realize this at the time, but I felt this was a medium I could express myself with.
Q: What type of camera do you shoot with, and what kind of film do you usually use?
A: I primarily shoot digitally with a Canon. I like the Mark series the best, but I have used quite a variety of Canon cameras in the past year. I recently learned how to use a large format camera, which I used 4x5 film. I recently assisted a photographer in the dark room, and she used 8x10 film, which was fun to help her make contact prints. In the upcoming months, I plan to do more with medium format as I have not used it in two years.
Q: There are several photos of people within this collection of photos. What do you like about photographing people and what is challenging about it?
A: I like the authentic nature of people. I find the everyday, relaxed essence of people is one of my favorite things in life. I am still exploring ways to communicate that on camera. It is hard to get the subject to drop a guard they automatically put up when they are having their picture taken. Also, people have expectations of what they want to look like on camera especially with how social media has changed societal norms. I want people to find the beauty of what they look like without that guard. How people look naturally is something I notice everyday. I do not observe this just for pictures. It is also something I enjoy about life.
Q: There are a group of photos all related to taxidermy. Are these related to a specific project? If so, what inspired you to photograph this topic?
A: I photographed Beth Beverly from Diamond Tooth Taxidermy. I did this project for my junior thesis at Drexel University. I spent eleven weeks working on nine prints to display in front of my classmates and professors for a critique. This was my favorite project I have worked on, and I hope to continue working on it.
I felt like photography was the perfect medium to communicate taxidermy as they have a lot of philosophical overlaps. They both are able to give something a new, eternal life. Both taxidermy and photography are observations of real vs fake. Seeing these images printed shows an extra layer of dissociation and fakeness.
Another theme I like to photograph is things I do not understand. I initially picked this subject with the belief that taxidermy was the opposite of me, quickly realizing the fine art of taxidermy has the same philosophical values as me- just with a different end product. Taxidermists truly love animals to know every millimeter of the animal and recreate it.
Q: There is also a mix of color and black and white photos. What are some qualities that you like about both?
A: I use color if there is a reason to. I am very sparring when using color for personal work, because much of my work is focusing on composition. If the color adds another layer to what I am communicating, I include the color. In most cases, I find the color to be distracting to what I want to communicate. I like the look and feel of black and white photography.
Q: Many of your photos have a strong composition. When photographing, what are you thinking before you click the shutter?
A: I think constantly looking at what the masters of art have done by putting myself in that environment, I do not necessarily think about the compositions. I just know if it is communicating my message or if something is missing. There are some organizational things I do like watching the corners and making sure what I want in focus is in focus. Most of my Instagram feed is photographers I respect and love what they do. I read a lot of books about looking at things in a new perspective. I also read books about art in other mediums, primarily painting. These are all things I have only started in 2019, so I think continuing on this path will help me improve more, as well as asking for constructive feedback from photographers/artists I respect.
Every day, Club Members take amazing pictures. If you are not a Film Club Member yet what are you waiting for? Join today to support the photo community in Philly and to start saving money on film processing!