As prescribed by Paulina Constancia
From sunny Phuket, we now head to ‘Windy City’ Chicago to meet American photographer Gretchen Villaluna Baria. Her background in dance, martial arts, music, theater, and writing adds to her unique style. She enjoys being creative, striving to make each shot a work of art.
DDoA: What was your first camera? Tell us the story behind it.
GVB: My first camera was a Canon Rebel xt with the 18-55mm kit lens, which I bought 2nd-hand from a friend when I was 23. I bought it because I wanted to start being more creative with photography (I had been taking casual photos with point-and-shoots before that). I wasn’t saving for it – it was somewhat of an “impulse buy”.
DDoA: Your camera now: Why this make/model?
GVB: I currently shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. I LOVE this camera. I upgraded in 2013 from a Canon 5D Mark II. The reason I changed to Mark III is because of the increase of AF points, which is crucial when shooting with wide apertures. Also, I like that it has dual memory card slots, so I can back-up my photos instantly as I shoot. I stayed with the Canon brand because I love the L series lenses. My favorite lens (and what I shoot with the most) is the 50mm f/1.2L.
DDoA: What would you recommend as a starter camera for somebody who wants to pursue photography as a hobby? as a profession?
GVB: As a hobby: Before I could make a suggestion…it would depend on what the person wants to shoot (sports, portraits, landscapes) and of course their budget. In any case, they should consider buying used or refurbished.
As a profession: Canon 5D Mark III :-). If someone is pursuing a career in photography, I’d highly suggest investing in a full-frame camera. Also, they should buy their dream camera, if possible, right off the bat.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Passion & Profession
DDoA: What made you pursue a career in photography? Who/what inspired you to go into photography?
*what was your profession before?
GVB: I pursued my career in photography once I realized I was working on photo gigs just as many hours as I was working at my full-time job. Right before I started Moonhouse Productions, I was working with a construction company doing bids and contracts. I always did some sort of art on the side, though. I always enjoyed taking photos, but I think what really pushed me to make a career out of it was the support from my friend in the entertainment industry, Kareem Wells. I would take photos for his projects, and he’d always say I could be successful as a full-time photographer.
DDoA: Was there a defining moment or a photo you took that made you realise that taking photos is what you want to do for the rest of your life?’
GVB: I cannot pinpoint a defining instance or photo, but there have been many times where I’m photographing and the lighting or moment is so beautiful that I’m so grateful to be there to capture it. I thrive off those moments.
DDoA: Do you have a favourite subject? What was your most unforgettable photo shoot/session?
GVB: Tough question – I enjoy photographing all my subjects for different reasons. 🙂 I’d have to say my most unforgettable photo shoot was from this summer – shooting Pitchfork Music Festival for Okayplayer.com. What makes it so unforgettable is the amazing music I got to experience from such a close vantage point (the photographer’s pit).
DDoA: What is your definition of a good picture?
GVB: To me a good picture is one that evokes true emotion.
DDoA: What are some of the advantages & disadvantages of photography as a profession?
GVB: Advantages: connecting with clients, somewhat flexible schedule, being creative at work, my “office” (photo shoot location) is always changing.
Disadvantages: working almost every weekend, a lot of hours goes into editing, equipment can get heavy after several hours of shooting.
DDoA: What tips can you give to photography enthusiasts on taking photos of Moments & Milestones.
– Start envisioning your shots before the session begins.
– Smile, play, and be silly.
– Let your clients know what to expect from the shoot, and how they can prepare for a successful session…the more info the better.
DDoA: How do you think photographers can influence the way people perceive the world? Do you think photographers are able to motivate people to make positive change in the world.
GVB: I think photographers can give people a different perspective on ordinary things – shedding a new, beautiful light on common or ignored subjects.
Yes, I believe photographers can help motivate people to make positive change in the world. Photos can help expose problems in society and spread messages easily all over the world, especially through social media. For example, earlier this year photographer Gregg Segal directed the public’s attention to the consumption/waste issue in America with his series “7 Days of Garbage”. Looking at the photographs might make one aware of their own contribution to the problem. Personally, seeing the photos makes me more conscious about how my actions affect the environment.
Publications: DJ Mag, Okayplayer.com, Def Jam Records (instagram)
See more of Gretchen’s incredible images:
Find her on facebook: Moonhouse Productions
Connect with her on instagram: moonhousephotos
Contact Gretchen: firstname.lastname@example.org