The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Elena Ortega
Photographer: Elena Ortega
Tell us about your style of photography. How did you develop this style and what do you enjoy shooting the most?
I can’t describe my work easily because I love exploring different styles, but generally, I am fond of dark themes. It’s always what I’ve been attracted to and what I visualize in my head. My work is primarily motivated by my personal taste, interests, ideas, and fantasies, which are ever-evolving.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
Observe. By being observant, you’re more aware of things happening around you and therefore have a better chance of capturing the best moments.
Where are you based? What makes home a good base for you?
I am based in Manila. I have yet to travel because I’ve been focusing on self-growth and figuring out what I really want to do, but I feel like I’m on a good path now. I honestly can’t wait to get out of here and travel!
Tell us about your gear, what camera do you use? What lenses do you prefer? Post-editing?
I currently use a Canon 6D and my favorite lens is the 24-70mm F2.8 because it’s really versatile. Post-editing I use Adobe Lightroom. I don’t go too crazy on the editing but I do like to alter colors to project a certain mood. I really love the look and feel of film, I’d shoot mostly with film if I had the choice but I haven’t had the time to look for the perfect film camera for me yet.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I’ve been interested in photography ever since I was 13, but it was only over a year ago that I started to take it seriously. As a kid, I guess my parents saw that I was more inclined to art than anything else, so they enrolled me in ballet class and art lessons. I’m happy they never forced me to pursue a career in anything corporate. As much as I wish I had continued dancing or drawing, I find that photography is the form of art I enjoy the most. The first ever shoot I did was with my friend Pat. I asked her if I could practice taking photos with her so we went to the beach and it was amazing, it really felt like it was something I should keep doing.
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
A lot of my photos are memorable, especially if I had a good time shooting. I really enjoyed this one shoot I did–it was the first time I did something crazy, we made the model look beat up, complete with fake blood and bruises. While shooting, I just felt good about everything and the model pulled off exactly what I wanted the scene to look like. When it all just comes together and the output is worth the work you put in, it’s the best feeling.
"You have to work on yourself first before you can create anything good."
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
Music. Whenever I listen to something I like, I get carried away by the mood and visualize things in my head. Doing videos and short clips are definitely next on my list!
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 am influenced by thousands of things, but what really started my journey was when I met my boyfriend, Franco (@pxnch). Being a photographer himself, seeing him work encouraged me to pursue photography. He’s taught me so many things, from the technicals of working a camera to points of improvement as a person. He really helped me see things from an entirely different point of view, which has helped me so much in all aspects of life and work.
Tell us three photography tips.
1. Don’t click on the shutter if you don’t like what you’re seeing. Filtering through your photos after a shoot can be incredibly difficult if you have too many choices.
2. Experiment with your angles and focal lengths. You’d be surprised at how different a scene will look by shooting from a lower angle, or by shooting with a 24mm lens compared to a 35mm lens.
3. Have a good base. This isn’t a technical tip, but I promise it will help. You have to work on yourself first before you can create anything good. If you force output while you are unsure of yourself, or have underlying personal problems, it will affect your outcome.
Finish the sentence...
If I weren’t afraid I would… stop stressing over the future so much.
I wouldn't be where I am today if… I had not met everyone I have met. Sh*tty people included!
I've been listening to… The Weeknd (his first few mixtapes are my life), Alt-J, Sango, Lana Del Rey, Gorillaz, Travis Scott, ZHU, Odesza, and Massive Attack.
Kids these days… are shallow and superficial and do not seem to have any life outside of Instagram.
I look and feel my best when… I get enough sleep.
When no one is looking I… like to just space out and think. Hopefully, travel… SOON.
I respect... people who do their own thing and are not just clones of trends and society.
I would recommend interviewing... Margaret Zhang! She’s insane. SO inspiring. I love her work and her style.
If I were to ask him/her a photography related question, I would want to know... I’d love to know how she got started into photography and what inspires her.