Tell us a bit about yourself, cristina-otero! How did you get into photography and why?I was thirteen when I found out what photography really was. I had never thought of taking pictures as a way of expressing myself, as a type of art. Before, I drew, I painted and I wrote poetry and songs. Then, just after I finished the first episode of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 1 -by recommendation-, I suddenly became interested in photography. I was mesmerized by the make-up, styling, lighting and poses they used, and I decided I wanted to do the same. It was all by chance.
Why are you on deviantART and what makes you stay?Always when I browsed through Google Images, there was always a link that directed me to deviantART. In my country (Spain) deviantART is not known, and so again, it was all unplanned. I decided to try it out and quickly fell in love with the site. Artist of all kinds come together to create, show and unconsciously teach art. I’m really familiar with deviantART, it’s part of who I am and my art.
What type of photography do you most like to do and why?Portraiture, most preferable self-portraiture. I’ve been always fascinated by the human body (imagine, I just wanted to become a medic just to learn anatomy), and when drawing I basically only drew faces. So obviously, in photography it wouldn’t be different.
What got you into people and portraits photography? What do you most like and dislike about it?It seems it’s what I am best at. I don’t feel anything when I see a raw landscape, or an animal, but I do get excited when I see an interesting and rare face. Whenever I see a gorgeous landscape or animal, I’m just thinking how beautiful it would look with a model with such dress and such pose, that’s how I am.
What I like the most is that a human face is moldable; it can express from pure joy to raw ire. The image will interact with the viewer because we as humans understand what it feels to be sad, angry, happy, tranquil…; humane feelings the portrayed model will display.
You do a lot of self-portrait work and you make it look absolutely stunning! Is there a trick to it, or something that you do that you can share with us?Thank you!
There really isn’t a trick, it’s all thanks to three years of nonstop self-portraiture. Practice and experience makes the master, that’s my secret. At first, you’ll have to take 300+ photos of yourself where only one -maybe two if you‘re lucky-, will work, just because you don’t understand or know what the camera is going to shoot since you can’t see it yourself. Then, it’ll be 200, then 100, and then 10. Patience is the key.
How do you come up with your ideas and concepts?I’m inspired by my own writing and drawing, as well as my own personal feelings and experiences. I like converting daily thoughts into art.
Do you use a specific technique when shooting? What setting on your camera do you most like to use?Not really, my camera is always on manual, and then I play with colors, contrasts and such, depending on the light and the mood I want to set. For example, if it’s going to be a dark, sad theme, then it’ll be a bluish tone. If it’s a happy one, then it’ll be yellowish, etc.
What are some key things that you always bear in mind when shooting?First of all, I check where the focus will be on, changing it and readjusting it. Now I automatically know where exactly I have to place the camera in order to have a perfect composition in my self-portraits, but before that, I had to take several ‘preview’ pictures to find the perfect inclination and distance of the camera. Then, I’ll start shooting and think about nothing but portraying my feelings.
You've got quite a huge reception on deviantART. Can you remember how that came about, what spurred it on? What are your thoughts on it, even? Good and bad points?Ah, I remember when I only had one watcher, maybe two. That was one year after I started putting up my work. It was really hard and frustrating to get people to see my photography. I remember one night when I got really excited because I had suddenly gotten 27 favorites in one picture. That had made me feel really proud because the maximum I had gotten before that had been 7 favorites! That had been summer of 2010, and then, February 2011 I got my first DD and many deviants saw my work and favorited. I soon began to be deviantwatched and then it all went up, getting my first ‘most popular’ in 8 hours and so on.
I’m really thankful to all the deviants that follow me, I really am. I feel really lucky, because there are so many amazing artists with mind-blowing art in deviantART that should be much more popular and aren’t even known.
The good thing is that I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to work as a photographer, as well as getting interviewed for magazines. The hard part is that I always get a lot of notes, and for me -still being in high school-, is a hard task to answer everyone and keep up with all the other social sites I’m in. But I’m okay, that’s a really, really small part compared to all the great things.
What is your favourite piece and why?I have one but it’s not in the Internet, I have it saved in my computer. Sometimes it happens to me that I am just too selfish to show a certain image, just because it would tell too much about myself and I want it all for me until I’m ready to share it.
But my favorite one of the ones I have shared is “kill them.”. I have great memories about that shooting with my brother.
Is there something that you would never shoot?I can’t say ‘never’ to anything. But right now I wouldn’t shoot a landscape without a model, because I’m just not good at it.
What is the process like from beginning to end, in terms of your photography? How long does it usually take on average?I first put on the make-up, hair and contact lenses. It usually takes from ten minutes to one hour, depending on the difficulty level. Then I prepare the setting, place the camera on the tripod, and I commence to shoot. After finding that perfect shot, I begin retouching the selected image, and then I’m done! Altogether, it takes a whole afternoon, 2-5 hours of work.
What is your equipment list? What made you choose your equipment there?My camera is PENTAX K-5
My lenses are:
- Pentax 55mm f1.4
- Pentax 70mm f2.4
- Pentax 100mm f2.8 macro
- A wireless control remote and a tripod.
I’ve got my hands on many reflex cameras, but my ultimate favorite is the K-5. I find it amazing, especially the noise levels, which is hardly noticeable until up to ISO +6,400. The camera is affordable and overall perfect for me. I love it.
Are you doing any projects at the moment, photography wise or not? Offline and online?I have a few exhibitions for these next 5 months in Spain and one in Holland, as well as a photo congress here in Madrid, which is called PhotoPentax. I’m also working on a picture for an organization against breast cancer.
Besides that, I’m trying to focus mainly in my last high school years to get good grades to be able to do a career.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?To practice a lot to gain experience. It’ll be hard at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it and start to really enjoy it. If your main goal is to people to see your work, then you have to show it through Internet, through art sites such as deviantART, even Facebook is great in that task. Be patient and love what you do <3
Thank you cristina-otero!
3wyl, posting on behalf of CRPhotography