Instinctually some individuals acquire the foresight to their life’s passions early. Elissa Salas is a recent high school graduate, and Freshmen Photojournalism Major ,at the elite institute, Parsons. Finding solace in her vision using film , in lieu of digital, gives her images depth. Elissa’s snapshots capture the beauty of her surroundings with realness and intimacy without indulging in nostalgia. Her Dominican culture & travels propel her perspective forward ,and allows Salas to indeed; “show people a new way of looking at the world we live in.”
“Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number” yet, as an 18-year-old photographer, do you find yourself ever discriminated against? What battles do you face as a young artist, and how do you overcome them?
I never find my age to be a problem, some people don’t even know I’m 18 lol, it always comes as a surprise. As a young artist I feel like I have an advantage to learn and become better in due time. I identified with my craft at an early age and that can take a lifetime for some.
Being that this is all a journey, when did you initially become interested in photography?
I became interested in photography when my older brother blessed me with my very first film camera. I was then enrolled in some classes at The Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA where I learned how to process ,and develop film at the age of 9. Since then my perspective has become important to me.
Upon reviewing your portfolio, I sense a more “raw” and photojournalistic approach to your imagery. How would you describe your visual aesthetic?
That pretty much sums it up. I grew up in a raw city and I wanted to document it, show the beauty of where we come from despite what people say. People look at some of my images and say “Wow that’s amazing where did you take this?” and we’ll be standing in that same grimy location haha. I want to show people a new way of looking at the world we live in.
Stepping in as the subject of the photo can seem terrifying for those that spend much time behind the lens. Are you critical of your appearance as the subject?
The same way I capture others and who they are, I’m not afraid to show myself in front of the lens. The camera gives me an opportunity to show who I am.
Your work also features inanimate objects, landscapes and streetscapes. What stories do you try to evoke when the subject isn’t a human being?
I like to highlight the details that some people might miss on a daily basis. All things matter. Most importantly our environment, it’s where we live. We must knowledge it, everything about our space. When I capture a landscape it is real, that place exists whether it’s a dirty alley or the moon at night.
What camera(s) do you frequently use, and what models do you desire to obtain?
I use my Nikon N55 film camera, Canon 5D when it’s something important lol, and I wish to own a Hasselblad medium format.
In a digital age, how do you bring new life to the world of 35mm film?
Simply by just using film I’m keeping it alive with my own stories. I also love prints, they’re timeless. My kids will find them and relive my life through images.
Do you set time to go exploring, or are you more structured/routine with your time spent in the field shooting?
I’m not structured with time to shoot at all. Then it wouldn’t be natural, there are days where I feel like exploring and I bring my camera along and that’s when these moments happen.
How has social media affected your ability to share your work?
Social media has been a great tool to share, but I’d much rather display my serious projects in person through exhibitions. The whole presentation without being behind a screen feels better, it feels like people really care about what you’re doing instead of scrolling through.
Traveling to new lands is always beneficial and evolves your perspective. What was the stimulus for your trip to Haiti? What did you take away from that trip mentally and visually?
My trip to Haiti was organized by an amazing group of people, Bread Loaf. We are a creative writing organization that holds workshops in schools locally in Lawrence, MA and we are building connections internationally to help improve the school education system (everywhere) by helping kids and teachers understand how important it is for classrooms to be student driven. It’s not only about meeting the state tests, it’s more about keeping your students engaged and giving them a voice through writing. The trip impacted me on many levels. I am Dominican and to be on the other side of the island opened my eyes to the truth and not what people say about Haiti. I love it there and I wish to return soon. Don’t judge anything by word of mouth or by the media. See for yourself.
Our Culture is Starved, How as an artist can Elissa Salas contribute to reviving substance back into the culture of art?
I want to work harder so that I can build a platform for other artist with substance to display their work. Just as Starved is doing for me. Thank you, much love♥
Travel through Elissa Salas’s perspective :