Elaina, can you tell us more about yourself and how did you get involved in the photography business?
Hi, thank you so much for having me! My name is Elaina Navarro, but most call me Laina or Lain, which is why my business is titled “Lainphotography.” For me, my involvement in the photography business really started at age 16 upon taking my first ever photography class. I have been in love with it ever since and am now a 24-year-old freelance photographer with an emphasis on fashion and beauty.
To begin, where are you based? How long has photography been a hobby and career of yours? What motivated you to get started?
I’m currently based in Los Angeles but am originally from the Bay Area. Photography has been a career and hobby of mine for the past 8 years. What motivated me to get started was the fact that I could have an outlet for the constant ideas flooding my mind. I’ve always be super creative and into fashion, so upon discovering that both of those aspects could be combined into a profitable career, I was sure that photography was what I wanted to pursue. In addition, I have never taken a liking to routine, and with a photographic career, am I continually immersed in creating new set designs, surrounded by new people, new fashion, and just overall new experiences, which is why photography is perfect for me.
What is your background story in photography?
When first starting out I shot everything, I experimented with food, product, portrait photography, etc., but I eventually concluded that shooting with people was more my cup of tea. From there I began shooting family portraits, senior portraits, and engagement photos on the side while attending high school. This carried on through the 2 years it took me to obtain my associate's degree in fine art. Furthermore, though I took a strong liking to shoot portraits, I knew my true passion was always fashioned photography and editorials. It wasn’t until I moved to Orange County to attend a new college, where I gained more knowledge of editing and learned to shoot with professional equipment, that I felt confident in pursuing my true passion, fashion photography. There I obtained a professional photography certificate and then transferred to my final college in Los Angeles where I recently received a bachelor’s degree in photography. My work was always published in each of my school’s magazines and exhibition shows, but I only just started submitting to actual magazines. I plan to continue submitting to magazines until my work is seen in even larger fashion publications.
What type of projects are dearest to your heart? Why?
I find that fashion editorial is dearest to my heart because it encompasses everything I’m passionate about. It includes collaborating with new people, set designing, styling hand-picked outfits, and accessories, and ultimately having creative control.
What services do you provide and what does your "team" consist of?
Honestly, after years of various types of photography classes, I am both confident and comfortable in shooting anything that is requested by a client, but my main focus is fashion photography. As of right now, my go-to team consists of my makeup artist, Autumn June, and hairstylist, Lizette Garza.
What would be some tips you would give to a beginning photographer?
Tips that I would give to a beginning photographer is to shoot everything, and then once you figure out what most interests you, build a strong portfolio in that category. In addition, continually research photographers whose work inspires you, and attempt to imitate their style. Know the current trends and always reach out to photographers, whom you admire, to assist them. That is where you’ll truly learn and make connections. Furthermore, be prepared for a lot of no’s, it’s completely normal, so keep pushing, everything you love will have a part of the process you don’t like. Lastly, remember that nothing is unrealistic, always go after what you want!
Is there something you always ask yourself/think just before you press the shutter button? And...what is going through your mind when you're behind the camera?
One thing I always ensure to double-check before pressing the shutter button is that the focus is sharp and fixed on the model’s eyes. Questions that typically go through my mind while behind the camera are, “Is this shot consistent with the desired theme?” “Is this clipping at all?” “Is the shot in focus?” and “Is there something I need to tweak?” It is crucial for me to remain consistent throughout my shots.
What is typically in your camera bag and what is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My camera bag almost always includes my meter, gray card and gaffers tape, those are necessities for me. I think my favorite accessory as of late, would have to be my Hoya star filter, it creates the most intriguing effect within an image.
Do you plan each photo out or are they created more spontaneously?
Being the perfectionist that I am, my shoots are planned out to a T prior to the production day. I create mood boards and have all of the inspo, styling, set design, hair and makeup figured out and made known to all of my team. As for each individual image, I have an overall vibe in which I present to the model to emulate, but it’s ultimately dependent upon their posing, so I guess I could say, it’s somewhat spontaneous, but mainly planned out.
Do you prefer working on location or in the studio? What's your favorite light source, and why do you choose it?
This question is so funny to me because prior to obtaining any professional lighting, my answer would of have been that I prefer working on location, but ever since I learned to use strobes, I definitely prefer working in the studio over the location. The lighting and environment are so much more controlled, and I don’t have to worry about outside sources interfering with my shoot. As for my favorite light source, right now it would definitely be a bare strobe, (Profoto b1x) which has a little bit of diffusion, but it ultimately coincides with my high contrast and punchy style, giving me those harsh shadows that are consistent within my work.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and what are your hopes/dreams for the future?
I feel as though I haven’t actually had a highlight in my career yet, seeing as this is only the second magazine I’ve submitted to. I just graduated from college, but I will now have more time to focus all of my energy on my photographic career in the way that I desire. My hopes and dreams for the future are to work in more high fashion magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
Where can our readers keep up with your work and get connected with you?
The best way to connect with me and view my recent projects is via Instagram, @lainphotography. I am currently revamping my website, so I’ll be re-posting the link for that very soon on Instagram. Lastly, if you seek a more behind-the-scenes look into my work, check out my Tik Tok @laina_navarro!
Hair Stylist: Lizette Garza @silverscreenvanity
Assistant: Esteban Huambachano @estebansphotograhs
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