Erica Simone lived in Knoxville, Los Angeles, and Paris before graduating high school. She then moved to New York to study at F.I.T. With all the relocating and cultural opportunities in those cities, it’s no wonder Simone grew up to be a photographer who loves to shoot people flying through the air. Of particular interest to Simone is the dancer/model/yoga enthusiast Amy Secada. The two have collaborated on a number of shoots in different settings. “She’s my muse,” laughs Simone.
Simone is definitely a portrait photographer. Even her beautiful cityscapes of Paris typically have a couple kissing at the edge of the Siene, or a lone figure under a streetlight. “I hate still lifes,” she says, laughing. “I like people. People are my friends. Movement in general is something I like to capture. Capturing people flying through the air… well, there’s something I love about that.”
Simone recently won the Profoto Assistant’s Monthly Competition. To nail the winning shot, she used a Canon EOS 50D with an 18-85mm lens, and shot the session in her apartment. “The Profoto Pro-8a Air pack has crazy consistency. The speed it emits the light is amazing. It’s so fast and so steady. I put my camera on super-fast shutter speed. Every time she was in the air I fired off about four shots. She did some incredible moves, and I was able to capture them with this rig. I used a beauty dish in front of the model; two heads and one reflector, total. If you saw my apartment, you wouldn’t believe I had room to do this. I set up a nine-foot backdrop and was literally shooting from under my desk. I’m really excited how well it came out.”
More often than not, Simone is attracted to saturated images. She achieves this is her Photoshop post work. “There’s a whole collection of people’s work that tends to be desaturated,” she says. “It has more of that mellow tone. I like that too, but when I go into a picture, I always end up oversaturating. It’s just what I like more.”
Simone holds a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Fashion Institute of Technology. “During my third year I knew I loved photography and wanted to be an artist,” she explains. “I didn’t want to be in money and business, but it was too late to change majors. I did it on my own and taught myself. I assisted other photographers, read books, and took a lot of photos on my own. Half of me wanted to go back to school for photography. I love the fact that I had a raw approach to it. It felt great to not have a professor tell me about composition, or ‘do it this way.’ I do better without that kind of structure. At first my photos were pretty bad, but it was a process of learning. I still have a lot of learning to do.”
If being an autodidact is what it took to bring Simone’s quirky, full-of-movement style to our attention, there’s no crime in that. With her moody Paris photos among her best work, here’s hoping Simone and her work takes us on many similar journeys.
Tags: Erica Simone
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