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Lomography x Zenit New Petzval Lens Artist Interview: Coco Alexander

We met Coco by chance, and what a chance it was! Her work is magnificent, and we fell in love with it, so we asked her to try out the Petzval Lens with her Nikon Camera and she came back to us with the most beautiful portraits.

Hi Coco! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been in New York now for 4.5 years and every moment gets better! I’m from the suburbs of Georgia, grew up listening to rock n’ roll and taking pictures at the concerts I went to. Today, I’m still shooting shows but also working freelance for bands, models, and magazines.

To be a photographer in NY can be one of the most competitive professions. How do you feel about it?
When it comes to what others are doing, I try not to think much about it. Yes, it’s competitive and really hard to make your mark… but if it wasn’t then no one would strive to work harder, do more, and generally be awesome. I came to New York to be better and live my dreams and New York has done just that for me.

How did you come to be a photographer?
When I was a kid my mom would drop me off at concerts on the weekends to see my favorite bands play. I would bring a disposable camera and every now and then get a good shot…. From there, I took classes in school and would get in trouble for skipping home room to hang out in the dark room. There was never really anything else I could have pictured doing.

Tell us your experience with the Petzval lens. What advice will you give to those who are just trying the lens for the first time?

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to use this magical lens. Truly, when I attached that beauty to my dull black Nikon body…. MAGIC! Well, good subjects and a talented makeup artist definitely added a little fairy dust too.

Of course, the Petzval took some getting used to. I realized very quickly that shooting digital is extremely beneficial as a beginner in that you can take A MILLION pictures and you will need almost that many to make sure you actually get a good focus point when using the 2.2 aperture. Your eyes will deceive you but be patient because once you get the sweet spot and the bokeh takes off you know you’re on to something good! As far as advice goes… Stay away from walls, direct sunlight (means you have to use a smaller aperture) which will cause you to lose that swirly bokeh fast! Just remember, anything with movement is your friend.

Which is your favorite picture taken with the lens?
Favorites are hard to play… mostly because one of my favorites (one of the very first images I shot with it) will never see the day because that damn focus area is just so touchy! But I do love love love the shot next to the train cars in grand central station. Oooh AND the low lit one of Alex looking up with the gold celling behind her!

What do you think are the pros of shooting film over digital?
Haha, the battle of a lifetime! I love them both, honestly. I don’t think I would have gotten use to the Petzval as quickly without the help of digital. However, a photograph taken with the knowledge I now have and 35mm film would quickly beat out its competitors. The information is greater, the quality is unbeatable… What more is there to say?

We also worked on this project with your boyfriend, Shawn, who does video. How is your work relationship with him?
Working together is definitely a gift. Sometimes it’s like getting a lawnmower for a birthday present… But a gift none the less! Shawn’s very technical which makes him an amazing assistant when he joins me on shoots. We get each other and what the other is saying quickly which is very helpful for us both to work along one another instead of against. I think our creative selves help each other in figuring out what works and when to move on to the next idea!

Any advice you’d like to give to those who are thinking about entering photography as a profession?
Just keep shooting. Just keep shooting. Just keep shooting.

Follow Coco work here.

The Lomography x Zenit Petzval Lens is now available for pre-order in the Lomography Online Shop! They will be delivered on a first come, first served basis; so don’t miss out on securing your piece of photographic history and your place in the pre-order queue!

written by antoniocastello

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, Spanish, 한국어, 中文(繁體版), 中文(繁體版), Türkçe, Français & 日本語.