A graduate of photography from Santa Monica College in California, Pena still works in traditional formats to create her images. Using her toy cameras (Holgas), Pena mastered the camera's unique light filtering quality placing her subjects in otherworldly perspectives. The energetic photographer seeks unusual models and locations to complete her vision for capturing the mysterious and contrasting the ugly and beautiful.
Living in Costa Rica, and represented in both the U.S. and Costa Rica, Pena is still juggling two diverse locations and cultures. Working on her Codigovestimenta series for a show opening in Costa Rica on Sept. 17, Pena talks more about her beginnings, current aesthetics, and projects.
What have your experiences been in the fashion industry?
What can be a bit difficult is dealing with a team of people, who sometimes
clash with personalities or egos. It can become a bit dramatic. While I
don´t love drama, I love intensity. I love intensity in all experiences. I
feel that´s why I love fashion, because you can create these fantasy
settings where beauty, movement, color and light are intense.
What can be a bit difficult is dealing with a team of people, who sometimes clash with personalities or egos. It can become a bit dramatic. While I don´t love drama, I love intensity. I love intensity in all experiences. I feel that´s why I love fashion, because you can create these fantasy settings where beauty, movement, color and light are intense.
Who has influenced you in the fashion industry?
I would say fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh. I've loved his work since I first saw it. Also, L.A. hairstylist Barbara James, with whom I did my first fashion shoots. She showed me fashion and who were the current famous models and designers. Through her, I defined my aesthetics and a deeper value of my Latin heritage and Costa Rica, which are reflected in my work by combining these Latin American elements.
To this day Peter Lindbergh inspires me, as well as different artists, like Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, Mark Rothko, Egon Schiele, Thomas Struth. I am constantly studying and learning about Contemporary Art.
What is the most bizarre technique you use in getting your images?
When I shoot personal projects here in Costa Rica, I am my own producer, location and talent scout. Even though I know that the final result is absolutely worth it, the job of taking care of organizing every aspect of my shoot can sometimes be tiring.
As a photographer, who gave you instruction for your basic modus operandi?
Santa Monica College photo instructor Larry Jones, who is also an amazing
and demanding instructor, was also very influential.
Santa Monica College photo instructor Larry Jones, who is also an amazing and demanding instructor, was also very influential.
Your work is described as photographing the ugly and the beautiful. What
about this contrast inspires you?
Your work is described as mysterious. What aspect of your work would you attribute this description to?
It's related to not only the models, but also the locations that I select for my work. I'm attracted by images of people and places, where you want to go inside the picture and to see everything close up.
What is your process in photographing a subject?
What equipment is your favorite to use?
How are you different from other photographers in your process?
There is a very interesting and active art scene in Costa Rica. We have several galleries that show the work of very talented contemporary Costa Rican and Latin American artists. In Costa Rica, I´ve had several individual and group shows since 2003.
How do you work in Costa Rica? Do you get assignments from other places?
Do you have any upcoming shows?
Are you showing in any galleries?
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