Vamos Foods sat down with Ivanna, a photographer who uses her culture to create art. We wanted to get a closer look into her life, exploring where she draws her inspiration for her photography.
Can you tell us more about where you grew up?
I was born and raised in Mexico City. My dad is from Mexico, but my mom is actually from Costa Rica! Growing up, I spent a lot of time in both countries. While my time was divided between the two places, at the end of the day I consider myself Mexican.
The experience of growing up in Mexico is very different to the one people experience in America. Mexico can be unsafe, so I couldn’t play on the streets and walk around or ride my bike by myself. However, I did have an amazing childhood and grew up in a very family-oriented household. During the summers I would spend most of my time in Costa Rica where I would be constantly exploring the nature of the country. I guess you could say I grew up in a big city during the school months and in a more tropical environment during the summers.
I went to the American School Foundation in Mexico City, which really helped me see life from a different perspective. We had students from all over the world, as a lot of expats in Mexico enroll their kids there. Eventually I decided to move to Los Angeles for college, where I did my Bachelor's in Economics and Political Science, with a minor in Photography.
What was it like moving from Mexico to Los Angeles?
I moved in 2017. It was great because I already had family members who had been living in LA for a while. Also, LA is so close to Mexico in distance, but also culturally. LA ranks second as the city with the biggest Mexican population in the world. I also came to LA for the beautiful weather and the beaches. I chose to go to the school I went to because I really liked the campus and the people. It felt like home to me, and now I consider LA more of my home than Mexico itself.
How did you get into photography?
In college, I started studying Political Science, but then fell in love with Economics after taking a class with an amazing professor. I loved how relevant Economics was to my everyday life. One day I decided, ‘Oh, I'm going to take a photography class and see how it goes.’ The Department Chair told me I was really good at it and that I should do a minor in photography. That turned into me being a photographer for my school, which led to me being the director of photography for the last two years I was there. Ultimately, I became a photographer and now I'm doing photography almost full time. Taking that first photo class was a good choice!
I enjoy photographing portraits and couture, along with some commercial photography here and there. Fashion is definitely my favorite thing to photograph! However, I don’t limit myself to one aesthetic. If it’s creative, if it’s crazy, if it evokes any type of feeling… that’s the kind of work I enjoy.
I think one of my biggest goals would definitely be to have one of my pictures on the cover of Vogue or on a billboard in LA. In the future, I would love to pursue moving photography, video, and film. I don’t want to ever limit my photography, whether it be art or video or any other medium.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a book about the imperfections of the body. The project is in film, and it’s in black and white. It’s a look into how nature is not perfect. Straight lines were created by humans. Most ‘perfect’ things as we want to see them are created by humans. You can go outside and look at the grass and the trees and the sky… ‘perfection’ doesn’t exist. Yet we as women strive for that perfect body, that perfect face, that perfect nose. But if nature itself cannot have those perfections, why do we think we could? My project investigates the body through the lenses of sexuality and femininity.
Is your culture reflected in your work?
Growing up in Mexico has definitely played a role in my work. Mexico is a third world country with a high population of people who live in poverty or extreme poverty. I moved to LA, and I realized how clean and perfect it appeared. LA is a city that continues to be very sterile, and is constantly trying to make everything look perfect, there is nothing raw about the city. On the streets of Mexico, you get to see first-hand what life is like. I want to take pictures of beautiful clothes and models, but I also want to be able to, through my photography, create awareness of the things I’ve lived through and the things I am. I want to portray my perspective from where I am from.
What does it mean to be Latina?
I'm Mexican and I'm Costa Rican, so at the end of the day I’m also Latina. To me, being Latina means to be a very hard working and very passionate women. Latinas have experienced a lot of repression, yet we always overcome the struggles by being cheerful and joyful. We have gone through so much as a culture, yet everyone is always happy, always dancing, always drinking. Everyone ultimately has the goal of enjoying life. I see that as something very, very cool.
Right now, for example, we just had Día de los Muertos. Instead of mourning and crying, we celebrate the fact that someone got to live and experience all that they did, and now they're moving on. It's very cool the way Mexicans and Latinos in general perceive culture and perceive the world.
What would you tell the childhood version of you?
If I could tell my childhood self anything, it would be 'Thank God you didn’t peak in high school.' Jokes aside, I would say, 'Never stop being yourself.' You should always be proud of who you are and what your beliefs are. You're going to mess up, but understand and learn from those mistakes. You won’t always understand why things happened, but learn from them and allow them to make you stronger. Everything will not always happen as planned, but never be afraid to say what you believe. Generations will come and go, so why should I not try to be the best version of myself? Why would I pretend to be someone I'm not? At the end of the day, life is short, and if I didn't get to be my best self, then what the heck am I doing here?
Check out Ivanna’s work HERE!