Sisilia Piring, fashion and portrait photographer from Los Angeles, has the ability to capture beauty in such an iconic and colorful way. She has worked with well-known names in the industry, including Burberry, Givenchy, Estee Lauder, and John Frieda. Sisilia jump started her amazing career by using social media that has since opened unique windows of opportunities that she, herself, can't even phantom! Read on to discover her story and professional advice in today's Behind the Lens interview.
Hi Sisilia! Tell us about yourself, your background and how you got started in photography.
I've always loved documenting, be it with pen and paper or a camera. I think having the need to document eventually lead me to where I am today. I didn't pursue it as a career until I got pregnant with my son. My husband and I had moved to Chicago where I didn't really know anyone, and it was sort of a survival thing. I was missing my family back in California, the warm weather, and was just super hormonal after the pregnancy. I needed a creative outlet. I started reaching out to local models I found via a modeling site, take their photos, develop them, and post them on my Tumblr. Soon after that, a hair and makeup artist from Ford Models saw my work, and she contacted me, and I shot my first agency test shoot. From there, other agencies asked me to photograph their models, which have helped in building my book. The consistent posting of my work online was a catalyst in it all.
How would you describe your photography style and how did you cultivate your signature style?
I would describe it as in the moment, spontaneous and playful. I think growing up in Los Angeles primarily helped cultivate my style because of the relaxed lifestyle. The amazing weather allowed for spontaneous shoots and the indescribable natural light just makes everything pop!
What kind of clients do you usually work with and what are your favorite kind of shoots to do?
I shoot mostly fashion and beauty. Editorial shoots are my favorite as it's more of telling a story than trying to push a product. You get more creative control and play with ideas you've been dreaming about. I also love shooting with a small team; sometimes it's just me with the model running around town shooting at places that look interesting. I just did a shoot where I saw a cotton candy vendor in the street and asked him if I can have the model hold the stick of toy balloons and cotton candy! We also found a fruit vendor that had the back of his truck filled to the brim with an array of fruit and asked if I can take a picture of the model in front of it and he was so cool about it! That kind of spontaneity is my favorite. It gives me a surge of adrenaline and inspiration.
What makes a photo beautiful and what are the most important elements that you keep in mind when photographing a subject? Who are some of your favorite photographers?
Great lighting is important and so is your overall surrounding. I like clean lines and symmetry. Also love pops of color. Juergen Teller and Guy Bourdin are my absolute favorite photographers. Their work is so playful and colorful.
We love your Instagram account. How has Instagram helped with growing your name in the industry?
Thank you! Instagram has helped expose my work to all sorts of people that probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise. It has definitely helped with booking projects and making new friends.
Give us a good humble brag. What is your favorite project to date or your proudest career moment?
Hahaha! There have been a few favorite projects. One that comes to mind is an iPhone campaign I shot with Burberry for their iconic trench coat. It was all shot on the iPhone and edited with VSCO Cam. It was pretty amazing and inspiring for a big brand like Burberry to dedicate a whole campaign to shots that were taken with an iPhone. It was before other big brands were doing it. They were ahead of the game, they were such a pleasure to work with, and surely one of the best crews I've worked had the opportunity to work with. It was also one of my first big jobs, so it will always be one of my favorite moments and projects.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and how do you stay inspired?
Don't think about it too much! Take loads of photos every day. Learn your camera and equipment. Post your work online via social media channels and share it. Don't be discouraged by the number of likes. Do you and find what draws your attention and keep shooting that. When something doesn't work, do your research and change your approach. Eventually, you'll catch a break, not by luck, but because of preparation and work ethic. I stay inspired by frequently taking trips with my family, be it a day or a week. I think the need to get outside and on the road with my family is meditation for me. I draw so much inspiration from our quality time on the road, just taking in the beauty of our surroundings.