Photography by Regine David
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?
What’s something you wish you knew before you started living alone?
The importance of spare keys.