An interview with our artist Durga Garcia

10 May 2019

We talk to artist Durga Garcia from South Carolina, USA

Please describe your Photographic style
My portraits are generally, of a cinematic, ethereal nature, in muted organic color tones, often with unexpected details, some say a bit quirky, I prefer interesting.

What’s your background?
As a child, being raised riding competition horses, I had the opportunity to travel and live in culturally diverse places, both nationally and internationally with exposure to people from all walks of life, different languages, customs, and foods. Then evolving careers from professional horse rider/trainer, equine veterinary paramedic, art & antique appraiser, to a professional photographer.

How long have you been a Photographer? How have you developed your career?
While I was an art & antique appraiser, taking photos was a huge part of my work. Then in 2008, I attended a photography conference, digital cameras/RAW files/ photoshop were gaining general acceptance and photography was newly accepted as an art, beginning to be seen at art shows. I saw how images could be controlled and how posing could make such a huge difference.

Being a single mother with a mortgage, I made a serious career change to become a photographer. I jumped in with both feet learning my camera, learning photoshop at night, listening to amateur and professional photographers, attending photography/posing seminars. On a volunteered basis, I photographed art events, friends, their kids, their animals, read as much as I could, old and current fashion/wedding/photography/art magazines and online. Volunteered at photo conventions, meeting the big dog photographers in the industry, assisted name photographers when they came to shoots in town. Entered my work in competitions, had rejections, did better, collected awards. Had professionals critiques. Earned a good reputation. This was my "college", my education. Within a year I was able to make a living, well modest, living being a photographer. People thought I was a success overnight, only it was countless of hours learning, investing in equipment, education and creating a web site, not to mention the determination to see good and be able to create good images. Along the way I found that I was able to bring out the best in people and animals, I created my own style, images could be recognized as mine.

Who or what are your biggest influences?
19th/20th-century painters, John Singer Sargent, Sir Alfred Munnings, the skies of John Constable, Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo and photographers Ruth Bernhard, Julia Margaret Cameron, Edna Bullock, Joyce Tenneson, Craig Blacklock also many other amateur and professional artists and photographers, along with
everything I saw and heard.

Which current art world trends are you following?
I try to follow what is happening in the art, fashion and photography industries. Even though, I understand, my work is totally off trend. I remain true to the style that I feel I do best.

Where do you create your work?
Control in the studio is nice, only I prefer to be on location in nature.

What do you feel is the role of the artist in society?
Serious responsibilities are required of artists/photographers; in random order, to inspire others to go further, to show unseen beauties, to record history, to bring out emotions and memories, to make the viewer feel good, to educate, to show possibilities, to experiment with never used techniques, to learn, to teach and/or to evolve

What equipment do you use?
Canon full frame cameras, with Canon “L” Lenes, Profoto lights, Mac computer with Photoshop CC. Not getting into camera brand debate, I recommend quality equipment and most of all, to learn what your camera can do and how to do it, that is what will let you can take your work to that next level.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your work, or the way it is executed?
Without question, both,

What project are you working on now?
Probably my most exciting and complicated project! A totally handmade Artist Book, similar to projects artists did before the computer age, the Artist Book in itself is an artwork. My soon to be completed book has totally hand-made cotton rag pages, hand bound by a heritage bookbinder in the historical bookmaking district in Eerbeek, the Netherlands. The book has specially designed for the tipped-in images.

The Images are printed on heavy quality archival Hahnemuhle paper. Each image included is a signed limited edition image. Planned to have a limited series of 7 books, along with proof and exhibition copies. Deciding on which 12-16 Images would be included, was more difficult than I could imagine, I excluded traditional type portraits, nude images and image series with the idea that they will have their own Artist Book in the future.

To earn a place in this Artist Book, the image must; have been purchased by a permanent public collection; or by a Museum; have won major or multiple international awards; have sold out editions; and/or have been well published.

Those pretty stiff qualifications lead to the title idea "Recognized Works of Durga Garcia". There will also be a softcover book with the image backstories, the inspiration, locations, models, props, problems, post-production, awards earned, and the public collection of each image. A kickstarter Campaign will start soon the help get this Artist Book finished!

Any current or upcoming exhibitions?
Currently, have work showing at the Viviana Puello Gallery NYC and the Nicholas Cusa Museum Germany. And soon the Kickstarter campaign for the release of my Artist Book "Recognized Works of Durga Garcia"

Where do you find your ideas for your work?
Inspiration for me will come from something seen or heard. Some ideas may stay in my head waiting for the right person(s) to use and/ or the right location. Or an incredible location will inspire an idea Or an interesting person or model will inspire me. Constantly visiting all types of Museums, galleries, shows in person and online
for inspiration.

Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?
Oh Gosh, many pieces, for many different reasons, could the subjects, colors, the time from idea to shoot or the difficulties of the capture.

How do you know when a work is finished?
I more know when a piece is not finished. I will plan, shoot & work on a major piece for a long time, during post-process, will leave it, come back, could be multiple times. When I can sit back enjoy the image and am eager to have it seen I know it is a final image.

What is your most important artist tool?
of course, quality equipment, imagination and problem-solving ability.

Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
In studio good lighting options and neutral background color.

Is there an element of photography you enjoy working with most? Why?
I get so excited to have a complicated portrait assignment, at an interesting location with multiple subjects, especially if animals are involved. Love the planning stage, bouncing ideas with the client, then the on location decisions of what can actually be done and of course the post-process. Then my reward, seeing the clients emotional response when they see their image.

To see more of Durga's work please see:

or see the following:

Viviana Puello Gallery, NYC 2019
Museum Nicholas of Cusa, Germany 2019
Nassau Municipal Museum, River Lahn, Germany 2019
Bonn on the Rhine, Germany 2019
Blank Wall Gallery, ATHENS, Greece 2017
Spectrum Art Basel Week, Miami 2016
Palm Beach College Photo Invitational, 2016
Masters Awards, Montagnac France 2016
Nevada Museum of Fine Art 2016
AMSTERDAM Int’l Art Fair  2015

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