The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Alexandra Gavillet
Photographer: Alexandra Gavillet
Location: I graduated from NYU last January, and have been here in New York and in LA, where my sisters live, my whole fam is actually moving to LA next month. A good home base means surrounding yourself with people that inspire and excite you. A good home base also has amazing restaurants.
Style: In this day in age, with Instagram, and everyone is talking about “what ya brand” is and being “on brand,” it all feels so claustrophobic. I used to care about my Instagram and website having a consistent pallet or theme, but now, I just edit and shoot however I feel would be the most natural for that specific image. I like to experiment and explore and am in love with too many aesthetics to commit to one.
Equipment: I shoot with a Canon Mark III, and am in love with the way the 100mm lens makes one’s facial proportions look. It’s such a sexy lens. I also began experimenting with the Xbox Kinect last year and am hoping to experiment with more 3D / VR stuff. One of my 2016 goals is to direct a music video or commercial with GoPro’s 360 rig!
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
The secret is about being open with everyone on set and staying enthusiastic. It’s not that serious: Dance around, laugh at yourselves. “The Real Slim Shady” came on during one of my shoots this week, and the dope makeup artist, Ashleigh Ciucci, turns around and starts full on rapping every single verse. Create a vibe where people can laugh and feel at ease. That’s when your images feel free, and that’s an environment that’s nice to work in.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
My older sister, Katy is one of my biggest inspirations, I always think anything she does is so cool. She used to come home from high school with these massive black and white prints of her friends hanging out. I wanted to make those kinds of prints too. Kinda cool thinking back at it, because not many kids in high school have the ability to work with film and make prints anymore. They just see grams and want filters. Prints used to be lust-worthy. Now I just wanna know what filter you’re using, girl!
“You have to dive in, break things, learn, and take risks. Never let them see you sweat. Fake it ‘til you make it boo.”
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot.
Last May was really exciting. As soon as Vic Mensa’s song “U Mad” came out, I was legit listening to it every second I could. The pacing and Kanye’s verse on it… sheeesh. I was obsessed. My inspirational homie Kevin Kloecker ended up commissioning the video and called me to see if I wanted to take the stills on set for Roc Nation. It was such a rad experience shooting stills on a set for a song that I genuinely loved so much. Seeing Kanye was cool too.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?My New Yorkers laugh when I say this, but Times Square - bright billboards and flashing lights. It reminds me of what I’m working towards. Big campaigns on bright and flashing billboards. Those are my goals. Also, a lot of screenshot references from @theacademynewyork’s feed.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the insanely talented director Sandra Winter. She taught me the importance of being true to yourself as a young working artist, and to genuinely stick to your vision, and believe in it. That way others will see it too.
Tell us three photography tips.
1. Set vibes. The best shoots have dope playlists. Silent shoots are scary.
2. Your team is important. Work with people you connect with and feel comfortable with.
3. I meet a lot of young women that are afraid to deal with lights and equipment. That stuff is viewed as a boy's club. People that make you feel stupid for asking a technological question are just insecure with themselves. I broke a light the first time I shot with a strobe. I’m still here. You have to dive in, break things, learn, and take risks. Never let them see you sweat. Fake it ‘til you make it boo.
"It’s the work you put in when no one’s around that makes you who you are and defines you."
Finish the sentence.
If I weren’t afraid I would... walk into SONY and not leave until someone gives me an assignment to work with Tinashe. Her confidence, swag, writing, talent and drive are magnetic—she is perfection. Love that we’re the same age, too. Need to work with her.
I wouldn't be where I am today if... I didn’t spend every high school lunch period in the photo room. I attribute my work ethic’s development to spending three years in my high school’s basement, hustling in the photo room. So much of the work we do is in solitude; I’m on set surrounded by life, but it’s the work you put in when no one’s around that makes you who you are and defines you. Did the same thing at NYU, but we didn’t have lunch periods...
I've been listening to... GRIME. Skepta! JME! Lethal Bizzle! Just started listening to grime music and it’s addicting, gets me out and energized. Makes me feel like I’m in control and really empowers me. And then the other half of my Gemini taste likes to be low-key, so I like to vibe out to some Bryson Tiller, Sángo, Jeremih, Tinashe, Partynextdoor, and Erykah Badu.
Kids these days... do it for the Gram.
I look and feel my best when... I got a red lip and a few spritzes of Jo Malone on.
When no one is looking I... look at your shoes. Shoes tell lots. low-key lip sync whatever song I’m listening to on the subway.
Traveling... I’m going international in 2016. Leffgooooo.
Tag a friend to feature and ask them a question:
Fabien Montique, @fabienmontique. He recently shot some beautiful portraits of Kanye West. Another amazing project he worked on was Pusha T’s cover for Darkest Before Dawn. He collaborates with DONDA and has shot some of the dopest album covers and portraits for GOOD Music artists. I would like to ask him, what music do you play during your shoots?
Fabien Montique answered: It depends on the direction of the shoot. These artists usually make the playlist for any shoot: Arthur Russell, Da Youngstas, Otis Redding, Biggie Smalls, Dr. Dre, Ratatat, Kanye West, Pusha T, The Cure, Grace Jones, and Depeche Mode.