Interview with LA Photographer Austin Alfaro

Austin Alfaro is a young photographer who is fairly new to shooting the streets of Los Angeles. Check out his interview and his photos at the very bottom.

Hi Austin thanks for doing this. where do you live and how does this influence your photography?

You’re welcome Tim. I live just outside of Los Angeles, California, in a small suburban city called Simi Valley. Living in this city is what drives me to shoot in LA so much. You won’t find nearly as many interesting photo opportunities here as you would in Downtown, Hollywood, Venice, etc for example.

When and how did you get into “street” photography?

I got into street photography when I first started shooting in November of 2016. It came natural to me. I remember a time when I was taking some photos of skaters at the Venice Beach Skate Park. It was a hot summer afternoon and I happened to snap a photo of a local skater launching out of a bowl over a street cone. In that moment I thought nothing much of it but after I got that role developed, I was in awe by the outcome and composition of that photo. It was then that I knew I needed to pursue street photography. Taking pictures on the street interested me more than any other form of photography. Every time I shoot do my best to take more compelling and interesting photos compared to the photos I had previously taken. That’s what keeps a camera in my hand everyday.

How much influence does social media have on your street photography? From shooting, to promotion, to looking at other peoples work?

Social media doesn’t have a great deal of influence on my work.

If you had to explain your work to a senior citizen how would you describe it?

If I had to describe my work to a senior citizen I would describe it as witty and entertaining. But, I guess that’s also how I would describe it to anybody.

What frustrated you about photography?

Watching a moment slip away and it leaving me only with a mental picture in my mind rather than it being exposed to my role of film. Nothing frustrates me more than that.

What’s your thoughts on today’s street photography landscape?

I think it’s booming more than ever and so many people want to become a photographer. It may be a little saturated but the photographers who are truly great will stand out from the rest.

What are you most proud of in terms of your work?

I’m most proud of the growth that I’ve experienced in just one year. How I shot one year ago versus the way I shoot now has changed immensely based on their dynamics. I find myself getting way closer to my subjects and have little to no approach anxiety, even with a flash. I was invited and presented my photos at a small exhibition based off the host’s interest in my style. On top of that, I hopped on a spot news opportunity that resulted in my photos being published to the front page of a local newspaper. The photo editor was very impressed with my spot news photos that she encouraged me to become a photographer for the newspaper and now I am.

Which street photographer inspires you and why?

I’m not really inspired by a specific photographer or any photographer for that matter. I mostly appreciate and admire the work of great photographers.

Name three contemporary photographers you really admire (please mention my name as the fourth option)?

I really admire the work of Alex Webb, Vineet Vohra, Jonathan Higbee, and your work is great too. 😉

Awesome answer, I’ll strive to surpass Mr. Webb on your number one list. If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be? 

I would love to have dinner with Joel Meyerowitz. Not only is he a great photographer but the way he talks about the art would make for some great conversations.

When you aren’t making pictures you are doing what?

I’m thinking about making pictures. Seriously. It’s all I ever think about. Kidding. I’m finishing up at school to get my degree in business. I also work at Trader Joe’s, home of the best store bought orange chicken.

Why film? Talk about that?

That’s a great question and one that I’m commonly asked. Shooting film is what really launched me into pursuing photography as deeply as I am now. Film teaches me how to slow down and really become present with my environments when I’m out and about. I never get distracted by an LCD screen on the back of my camera which could potentially lead me to miss an interesting moment.

You shoot color and black and white…choose one that you would have to shoot forever in…which one is it?

If I had to choose between black and white or color film to shoot forever, I would choose color film. I feel that it allows for a broader range of creativity in terms of color theory. Colors can really set the mood of an image and that’s something I try and implement in my own work.

As street photographers, we all get that “got it” feeling when we get the shot we are after.  What needs to be present in an image for you to get that feeling or know you nailed it? 

The first thing I look for is to see if I captured the image I had in mind while composing the shot in my viewfinder. As soon as I see that I’m good. Whether it’s a funny face, interesting lighting, or a combination of the two, if I get the same joyous feeling by looking looking at the an image compared to when I was there in person, I know I got it.

If you didn’t have to worry about earning a living, what type of work would you do?

That’s also a great question. I would pursue photography full time. I love shooting in Los Angeles and all but there’s still the rest of the world to be photographed from my perspective. With that said I would travel constantly and explore our planet. I know that mind sound cliche but it’s true. I think most street photographer’s dreams are to travel the world and capture their environments.

What is your dream assignment/project?

My dream project would be to document the first humans to visit the Moon commercially and their experience, so I’m crossing my fingers that happens in our lifetime. I know it sounds crazy but how cool would that be! Dreams are meant to be far fetched and set to a high standard I think, because that means all the dreams below that one are just that much easier to achieve.

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 Keep up with Austin’s future work below.
Instagram @milkyselects

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