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Maria Del Rio, the woman behind the lens


Maria Del Rio

How did you start in fashion photography?

I began in documentary photography but then I started working as a social worker. It became tough to feel inspired to document when my job was so intense. I decided I needed something to balance it and started having fun playing around with more conceptual photography. In the end, fashion photography allowed me to tell a story that other types didn’t. I could play with location, lighting, wardrobe and it felt like I was truly creating pictures that were mine from start to finish.

What can we find out about you through your work?

What kind of mood I was in the day I shot. Some of my images are really colorful and graphic; others are more quiet and serene. I think I definitely have those two sides to me. Otherwise there is usually a subtle irony or humor in a lot of my photos.

 What is the usual creative process in one of your works?

There is always something that triggers the creative thinking. Like a cool location I see or a unique person and then I start building.

Once I’m in motion with an idea I cant really leave it alone. I’ll sketch out some shot ideas, scout the location, and obsess. I also think its really important to match the creative team with the shoot style if it’s a collaboration. Once I’m on set it’s a little more organic. I remember the first time I did a shoot years ago with a big team I had so much anxiety because I was like “damn all these people are showing up to work with me and I better make something cool happen”. That’s a lot of pressure. But now it’s just so fun to work with other like-minded people.

Maria Del Rio

 Which of your works are you most proud?

I’m crazy about self-critique so I always look at past shoots and think about what I would change if I could do it again. Its good and bad I guess. My first complete series wasn’t fashion but was more conceptual and it was a series called “Inadequate Tools” – pictures of tools that aren’t right for the job (like a kite way up in a tree and a little ladder that doesn’t quite reach) and how in life we so often aren’t prepared for something but we try anyway. That series is always a special one for me because I worked so hard on each shot from conception to execution, and it was my first solo art exhibit.

 If you had the opportunity to work with some of your favorite photographers who would they be? And why?

I’ve assisted some rad photographers in the past who taught me more than I could have ever learned in school. As amazing as they were, most of them were men so I always look up to these women photographers who are just killing it out there. Of course Annie Leibovitz is iconic for me. I read her book “At Work” cover to cover. I’m a big fan of Julia Noni right now who has a really cool graphic, almost architectural style to her fashion work. Emily Shur has hilarious concepts. It would be so cool to even just watch these women at a shoot and see how they think.

Maria Del Rio

 Finally, some brief advice for those who have your same passion and desire to work as photographers in the fashion industry.

Work hard, really hard. I used to be so discouraged because I wanted to be a photographer SO bad but didn’t know how to get there.

I always felt restless and like I was running on a treadmill – hustling so hard and not getting anywhere.

But it’s not true, you’re always moving forward and eventually it pays off. It’s a crazy competitive job; nowadays everyone wants to be a photographer and can be. What separates those who want it and those who actually succeed in it is hard work, being excited to learn (pay your dues – school, assisting, you-tubing, practicing, whatever but pay ‘em), and not being awful. Seriously be nice to people because at the end of the day people are going to remember how it was to work with you more than anything.

Maria Del Rio

You can see more of her work here http://www.delriophotography.com/

Photography by: Maria Del Rio