Photography by Regine David

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Be­fore mov­ing to New York, pho­tog­ra­pher Regine David shrugged at the idea of living there. “It seemed like a cliché, ex­pected from an as­pir­ing artist in her twen­ties,” she says, a month into the move. “But it al­ways made sense to me to live [in New York] at least once in my life if I could.” Be­fore NY, Regine has lived in Ge­or­gia (hav­ing been ed­u­cated in photography at SCAD, the Sa­van­nah Col­lege of Art and De­sign), France, and Hong Kong.

Upon set­tling in, Regine is snap happy. She takes pho­tos of the neon lights and sky­scrapers at Times Square, dusk seep­ing through a patch of sky at Prospect Park in Brook­lyn, a straw­berry lime pop­si­cle from Peo­ple’s Pops nearby. On her blog, sand­wiched be­tween more doc­u­men­tary pho­tos— Phoenix per­form­ing at the Bar­clays Cen­ter, can­noli from the San Gen­naro Fes­ti­val at Lit­tle Italy, din­ner with friends at the Meat­ball Shop in Williamsburg—Regine con­fesses anx­i­ety. “There’s so much con­stant pres­sure to work and suc­ceed with­out paus­ing and I just don’t know if that’s what I want for my­self right now,” she says.

But that doesn’t de­feat her. Since, Regine has been shoot­ing non­stop. In our in­ter­view, Regine talks about the im­por­tance of hav­ing courage to ex­per­i­ment. “Don’t let your sur­round­ings or the peo­ple around you and your own in­se­cu­ri­ties hold you back from pro­duc­ing what you feel is most au­then­tic to you.” Can we get an amen on that? —Jed Gre­go­rio, with a re­port from Mara San­til­lan Miano

What has been your most mem­o­rable shoot by far?

I was shoot­ing a cam­paign for The Ar­ti­san Cloth­ing with a bunch of my friends as mod­els, and we started off on a rooftop in Hong Kong. Re­ally sim­ple set. Af­ter a while, we felt like there could be more to the story, more fun to it. For the next ten hours we ran around the streets, pos­ing with strangers of all sorts, from monks to Ar­gen­tinian fur deal­ers, sneak­ing into build­ings, do­ing any ran­dom acts of fool­ish­ness we could. It cap­tured my view of Hong Kong, the undy­ing spirit hon­est youth of the city.

What do you en­joy most about fash­ion photography in par­tic­u­lar?

Fash­ion brings a nar­ra­tive el­e­ment to the pho­to­graphs. Whether that be designer fash­ion, or sim­ply the cloth­ing on my sub­ject’s back. Where I grew up, fash­ion wasn’t a part of my life, not in the way it is in New York City. In my head, fash­ion was ei­ther cheap or high end, there was no mid­dle ground. It seemed to be too glam­or­ized and per­ceived as un­reach­able. In New York, I see di­ver­sity in fash­ion. Peo­ple wear cloth­ing that they are com­fort­able in, of­ten re­gard­less of the la­bel. This drew me to fash­ion photography, be­cause I wanted to cap­ture the at­ti­tude and per­son­al­ity that walks the city streets.

What in­spires you?

There are th­ese brief mo­ments that come and go, like sto­ries from a stranger or mu­sic drift­ing through an open win­dow. It is th­ese day-to-day ex­pe­ri­ences and the over­all odd­i­ties in

Who are the pho­tog­ra­phers you look up to?

Juer­gen Teller, Larry Clark, Er­win Olaf, Matt Lam­bert, Vi­viane Sassen, David Arm­strong, and Paul Jung are a few of the es­tab­lished pho­tog­ra­phers that in­spire me greatly. They fo­cus heav­ily on por­tray­ing hon­esty in the forms of beauty, youth, and free­dom. As for up-and-com­ing pho­tog­ra­phers, Eric White plays with strange and quirky forms. Lau­ren Withrow pro­duces of movies that never came to be, and Mar­cus Cooper pho­to­graphs the most beau­ti­ful peo­ple in a such an hon­est and raw way.

How has mov­ing to the States changed your per­spec­tive in photography?

Back home, there was this over­whelm­ing chaos. Color was present ev­ery­where you looked. In the US, it is much more sub­dued, al­most work. Be­fore I fo­cused on cap­tur­ing the chaos of the color, now I shoot more mono­chrome, fo­cus­ing on qui­eter or more in­ti­mate mo­ments I have with the peo­ple I pho­to­graph.

What do you miss most about the Philip­pines?

De­scribe for us the per­fect pho­to­graph.

A pho­to­graph that cap­tures both beauty and hon­esty.

The most mem­o­rable place you’ve been to?

There is a beach about 20 min­utes from my mother’s home­town in Zam­bales. I would visit that beach ev­ery sum­mer with my fam­ily and lately, my friends . It doesn’t re­ally have a name—the sands lie un­touched, cut off from civ­i­liza­tion, rooted in sim­plic­ity and ob­scu­rity. There are no out­side dis­trac­tions, and no noise. It brings me peace.

What would you tell a young per­son who wants to pur­sue your line of work?

Don’t be afraid of fail­ure. Don’t be afraid of ex­per­i­ment­ing. Don’t let your sur­round­ings or the peo­ple around you and your own in­se­cu­ri­ties hold you back from pro­duc­ing what you feel is most au­then­tic to you. Seek out in­spi­ra­tion from artists and pho­tog­ra­phers from all around the world, un­der­stand how they see with their eyes and what they want to say with their pho­to­graphs. Take the time to un­der­stand why you shoot the way you do and de­velop the vis­ual lan­guage that you feel is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what you want to say at the mo­ment. That way, it’s not about the equip­ment or the trends or any­thing that is sur­face level. It all comes back to hon­esty.

What do you con­sider to be the best de­ci­sion you’ve made in your life, so far?

Trav­el­ing.

What’s some­thing you wish you knew be­fore you started living alone?

The im­por­tance of spare keys.

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