Los Angeles-based photographer Stephen Vanasco shoots a variety of subjects, including street, skateboarding, fashion and music. He also shoots for his skateboarding and apparel brand, V/SUAL. Here, he gives us a look at his creative process and inspiration.
1. Where are you based?
2. How long have you been an active photographer?
For about 20 years now.
3. Which photographic subjects do you focus on?
It all depends on my mood or what I’m surrounded with. I love the idea being able to adapt the translation of what I see through my camera regardless of the subject matter. I feel looking at everything as a potential for a photograph keeps the creative process moving on a wide spectrum.
4. What inspires you creatively?
I’d say life. I know it’s kind of a broad answer, but personally, inspiration comes from music, friends, family, my surroundings, feelings and ideas. I just try to relax and take things in and follow what excites me to make photos.
5. What are you working on at the moment? What’s next?
I’m always working on something via my skateboard company V/SUAL. Other than that, taking the time to sequence photos for books as well as preparing my Altitude : Los Angeles gallery for when we get past the COVID-19 crisis and are able to come together again. I had just gotten the final prints done for it right before everything hit, so it has been on pause for a month now.
6. What’s one of your favorite photographs you’ve made, and why?
I think most photographers would say our photos are like our children and it can be hard to pick a favorite one. But one that comes to mind is one I made in New York of this young girl with a puddle. The way the line of the puddle cuts through the concrete almost making an alternate world via the reflection off the water that she’s about to step into.
7. What’s in your camera bag?
My go-to camera setup is my Leica M-P with the 50mm apo summicron. With the recent events going on, I’ve been spending some time with my M10 Monochrom and am really enjoying the images I’ve been making with it.
8. Is there a photo accessory you consider essential for your work?
DSPTCH camera and wrist straps are a must. I’ve been using them for the past seven years and love them.
9. For you, what makes a compelling photograph?
Not anything technically specific, just the feeling of a connection and understanding when I see the photo. I’m never concerned with, say, the medium it was made on but did the photographer capture something in a way that’s instantly recognizable to my eyes to where it sparks an emotion of some sort.
10. What motivates you or gets you out of a creative rut?
Just put the camera down and enjoy life. Sometimes we put an absurd amount of pressure on ourselves to create and it can be overwhelming. Add in this unspoken notion of having to make stuff to feed social channels and it can be draining. Whenever I feel like I’m in a creative rut, I prefer just to enjoy the day and not worry about such things. Usually that helps as I came back to my camera when I’m sparked to make photos.