“Cruel Summer” is our first publication from the United States. Alejandro (Photographer) inspired by the Californian pool parties of the 80s plus an atomic duo composed of Emma and Inez, delights us with this story full of youth and those nostalgic vibes typical of a summer adventure. Photographs full of life, where the reflections in the water or the light passing through the drops like backlit prisms make it clear why we remember moments like this in such a magical way. Wet bodies under the heat of the sun, it would seem to be a perfect and pleasant contradiction.
Alejandro, Where are you from?
Born and raised in different parts of San Diego and Southern California. My mom is hispanic and my step dad is African American. My childhood was definitely an awesome blend of two cultures.
How long have you been developing yourself in photography?
I got into photography pretty early, my mom bought me my first film camera, a Pentax K1000, when I was in 7th grade. I was skateboarding and taking pictures of all my friends on the streets. There were no automatic settings so there was a lot of trial and error. Back then we would all pitch in to get the film developed and then get back together the following week when we picked them up.
Do you have a favorite location for taking pictures?
The desert or anywhere with natural light, hoping to get out to the mountains again soon.
What are you inspired by, what are your references?
Music mostly and old movies. Books, classic advertising, paintings. I'll often hear a song and imagine how a shoot could take place around that song, almost like a video. And of course past and present photographers are very inspiring.
Tell us a little about this session, how did the idea come up? Did you know each other before?
I had been wanting to shoot something like this for awhile but it's not always easy getting access to a pool. I just thought it would be fun to capture a few friends having a little fun in the backyard, messing around. Growing up in Southern California we were always looking for the next pool party in High School, similar to some classic 80s movies. I had worked with Emma prior but not Inez, although Inez and I had talked about shooting before. I had finally found a pool I could use that had the right look and both models liked the idea so we put it together fairly quickly before we lost access to the pool.
"I like to let models wander around and do their thing. Sometimes I see something and ask them to hold but I love things to develop more naturally with movement."
What part of the female body do you like the most and why?
Eyes, neckline, waist. They are significant in that you only need to see a tiny image of each to peak your imagination.
Do you portray men from time to time?
From time to time for agencies.
A retro style is perceived in your photos. What catches your attention about it?
It's just a reflection of what I grew up with. Watching old tv shows and movies. Looking at my dad's old Vinyl album covers, listening to classic rock and motown. As a young kid my parents didn't let me watch tv in the living room, but then one day when I was 6 or 7 my dad gave me this old 12" black and white tv for my room with a rotary dial, antenna and a vintage brown and yellow San Diego Padres sticker on top. Well it was weird at first, like "what's up with this broken tv?", but over time I really appreciated that little thing and I watched everything on it. If I had my choice I would shoot all grainy black and white. It's funny how as artists we always find an era outside of our own to find inspiring.
Do you prefer morning or evening light more?
Definitely morning light, but it's more difficult to get models to show up really early. If I do it's typically a model I have already worked with who gets me.
For you, what should a model have to motivate you to photograph her?
I rarely get to shoot, if I'm lucky maybe once a month. So when someone reaches out to me I prefer someone I have either already worked with or who is interested in working together sharing ideas and concepts. Working together really helps build the mood and vibe. That's what really motivates me. I'll shoot just about anyone who inspires me and really shows interest. I rarely work with anyone who doesn't show any motivation or wants me to drive 3,5 hrs. across town, regardless of how many followers they have.
"I'm probably a minority here (Hybris) but I don't think full nudity is often necessary. To me a provocative scene reveals enough without being too much. I think if done well it will draw you deeper into the image."
Where in the world would you like to take photos?
I'm always drawn to warm places, besides what model likes being cold anyway? But I would also love to shoot more in the countryside, mountains or maybe someday in an old world setting like Paris or Italy.
When you retouch your photographs, what do you propose to yourself to achieve?
First I decide if I'm going to shoot film or digital. I personally don't criticize or feel anyone should only shoot one or the other. I think they are both useful tools. Unless it's paid work I don't like super sharp photos and I avoid excessive retouching. Mostly just color adjustments and contrast. I want the photo to speak for themselves but sometimes creating a mood with color grading or temperature makes all the difference.
What has been your worst experience as a photographer?
I haven't had a horrible experience I wasn't able to work through but I would have to say flakes (no shows) have always been the center of my worst experiences.
What has been the most difficult idea to realize in a session until now?
Just trying to get what I envision onto camera. I don't always pull it off but I learn and try again another time.
Why did you choose to develop provocative images in your instagram’s account more than any other topic?
I actually don't shoot provocative images more than anything else. If anything it's the smallest percentage of what I do shoot. I like to shoot a wide mixture of things. Nevertheless, why do I? I don't know, it's hard to say. Many these days would say it's because I'm a guy and that's what guys with cameras do. I definitely understand why many feel that way but that's not it for me. I just like to create and if that's what I envision for a particular scene then lets try it.