A Conversation with Anastasia Garcia

Can you introduce yourself and your background in photography? 
My name is Anastasia Garcia, I am a fashion photographer, and one of the founders of the body positivity movement.

Your photography covers quite an array of subjects and styles. How do you approach each shoot, whether that be on DSLR or instant camera? 
The women I photograph are the heartbeat of my work. They are the vital factor in every story I tell. So, for me each shoot is about capturing my subject in a way that will celebrate their unique personalities, and diverse appearances. A broad range of characters require a broad means of lighting and composition.

What are your goals with photography?
My goal is to use photography to challenge, and redefine antiquated and destructive beauty standards. I hope to empower all photographers to consider the responsibility we have as image makers, and to shift the fashion industry toward a more inclusive vision.

You are a strong proponent of showcasing the diversity of beauty in your photography, how will diverse representation in photography help shift ideas about body image?
The brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than it processes words. Imagery is the most powerful way to influence people.

And now with social media— every aspect of our lives are inundated with imagery. I was able to work on Straight/Curve, a documentary directed by Jenny McQuaile, as a featured artist. I am a plus size, Latina woman, and at the time one of the only photographers featuring diverse bodies in my work. The film focuses on the impact the fashion imagery has had on people, including hearing stories of industry insiders on their experiences behind the scenes. It highlights many of the current issues, as well as proposing realistic solutions to move the industry forward.

People (especially young people) look to the images they see in media to understand culture, and how they fit in, or how they don’t. When the imagery in media reflects a diverse range of people (size, shape, age, race, ability) everyone will be able to look to photography to see themselves represented. And this will send the message that “You are valued. You are beautiful, and you have a place in this world.” As photographers many of us neglect to consider the impact our work is having on people. We continue to photograph only one type of model, and collectively have contributed to a toxic and destructive beauty norm. One that excludes plus size women, women of color, differently abled women, and women over a certain age. I believe many of us have followed our “creative impulses” but fail to consider where those impulses come from, or what is informing our own ideas of beauty. We need to change that, we need to be conscious creators.

What is your first thought when it comes to lighting a scene? 
It’s more like a stream of several questions that run on. Who am I shooting? What am I trying to accomplish? What are my constraints?

How do broncolor’s Paras help achieve your creative vision? 
I love the broncolor para because it’s incredibly versatile. It’s beautiful on a range of skin tones and body types. On the set of Straight/Curve I was working with a variety of models of different ages, ethnicities, skin tones, and body sizes. I needed a low maintenance lighting design that would allow the film crew the freedom to move openly around the set, as well create beautiful clean light for my array of subjects.

What makes Paras different from softboxes or other modifiers?
I prefer the shape of a parabolic modifier to pretty much anything else. I generally tend to use them un-diffused (as I tend to prefer a harder more crisp and contrast lighting). My lighting style is very clean and simple, and a setup can range greatly from one single light, to complex eight light setups. It’s all about the subject, and the end goal of the creative inspiration.

What other projects do you have on the horizon? 
Currently I am working on creating imagery that I hope will counter some of the toxic rhetoric coming from the current administration. For me right now this means highlighting trans woman.

Who do you dream of photographing? 
I feel fortunate because I am shooting the women I dream of photographing. Women like Ashley Graham, and Danielle Brooks, Jillian Mercado, and Ebonee Davis. I’d also love to shoot some of the incredible activists, and political leaders that are rallying for social change, women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Linda Sarsour, and Michelle Obama.

Anastasia Garcia is a fashion photographer and one of the founders of the body positivity movement. Follow her on Instagram @anastasiagphoto