Ysa Perez is equal parts captivating and capturing, a fascinating Puerto Rican pixie running around breaking hearts with her golden Contax T2 35mm point & shoot or analog Mamiya. She is best known for her outstanding portraits of A$AP Rocky before he went mainstream, yet her photography knows no bounds in terms of subject matter. Ysa seizes everyday occurrences, the little things we seem to take for granted: a streak of light on someone’s sleeping face, the last few puffs of a cigarette, sunshine & food, nights out & days spent in.
With a list of notable clients from Cassie, Solange, and Lil Debbie, to James Blake, Riff Raff & Andrew Garfield, expect to be exposed to more of this lady’s talent. We got to chat & photograph this lovely Rochester, NY belle after a Skream/Oneman show in Boston. She was even gracious enough to offer me some not-yet-seen pics from the tour. If you don’t already, follow her journey via tumblr & after the jump let’s fall under her spell.
Hi Ysa, you’re back in Rochester, NY after a mini tour spree with fiancé Steve Bishop aka DJ Oneman. What’s your favorite thing about home? Any comical childhood memories you can share?
To be honest, I don’t visit home often; this is probably the most time I have spent in Rochester since I was in college. I went to RIT, which was 5 minutes away from my parent’s house. But I enjoy the quietness of suburban life and it’s simplicity. As much as New York has transformed me, I come back here and realize oh shit yeah; this is where I’m from. It’s the best way to disconnect after all that travelling – and NYC becomes abrasive for me after awhile. My first job was at Pontillo’s Pizza, and then I worked at the mall for a few years — that to me is comical. I had a completely different life growing up. You know Seinfeld’s Worlds Theory? This is my other world. I’m Ysanya here, not Ysa.
You guys hit both the Best & the Beast coast. Anything standout in San Fran or LA? How about Boston?
It was Steve’s first US Tour promoting his Solitaire II mix tape he had just dropped, so the west coast was a highlight because I rarely get to visit and he had only been once. We rented a car and crib and got to do whatever we wanted, so that was our favorite portion of the tour because usually you don’t really get to see much of a city anyway when dates are back to back. It’s so in and out, so it was really fun to be settled there and experience it. I hadn’t seen him in three fucking months before that so, downtime was essential. Unfortunately we had no time in Boston, but we would love to come back — I think it’s a beautiful town. I deeply regret not being able to try ANY seafood there. Oysters are a weakness of mine.
Before you discovered photography was there something else that occupied your creative time?
Yes, I used to play the violin all through middle school and high school. I only stopped because I didn’t have room in my schedule during college. I miss it… and I regret having to stop. Honestly, photography didn’t start for me until my second year of college. I attended the University of Buffalo my first year as an undecided major taking foundation classes trying to figure out what the fuck I was good at. After being involved in a photo project and seeing how amazing the photo facilities were at RIT, I transferred there to major in Advertising Photography. I wish it were a better story. I definitely wasn’t the kid with the handed down 35mm camera around my neck. No offense. I was always on computers though, or listening to music and smoking weed. Sort of my suburbia adolescence summed up.
Are you happy to have attended school for photography? The market seems oversaturated these days.
Yes, although some days it’s easy to become discouraged considering the amount of imagery there is to compete with. I open Instagram and everyone is a photographer, I open twitter and everyone has something out for some blog/magazine — there is a lot of pressure to constantly be putting shit out. These channels, although great for exposure and self-promotion, opened the doors for pretty much anyone. At the end of the day however, I remember that I knew nothing technical about photography before I began RIT, and I left with a really comprehensive understanding of it. My class year was right on the cusp of digital completely overtaking the curriculum, so I’m grateful I learned traditional analog printing, both color & B&W, used 4×5 cameras and medium format cameras, and overall learned the history of photography. Kodak originated in Rochester, so my school’s facilities were on point and my education there was crucial because it’s where I learned to shoot film properly and instantly fell in love with the process. I still only use film, 120 and 35mm (digital on the rare occasion that it’s required). I’m very thankful for that rather than the ‘Internet way’ of becoming something. Not for me.
To read the rest of the interview head over to: MissKL.