Would you want to go on a treasure hunt around the world? Where the treasure to be found are paintings and artwork that you can actually take home?? Well, Kristy Elena does!
As a part of the #IAmLivingit series, this is the story of Kristy, a photographer and pop surrealist painter with a great love of travel. She has combined all her interests through a project she works on with her husband called #FreeArtForTheWorld. “We travel to different locations around the globe and leave originals or prints of our work on the street for anyone to find and take home. We post location clues on our Instagram- @r ogue.foxx . Along the way, we photograph our experiences and share our personal photography on social media.”
Connecting for the #iamlivingit series, we from team Livingit bring to you Kristy’s story, about her passion for photography and her generosity to want to give back to the world through art.
Livingit: What first drew you to photography—and how did you discover it?
Kristy Elena: I began learning photography at a very young age, all thanks to my father, a fine art photographer and printer. He taught me how to use a camera and how to print using traditional darkroom methods. It was part of my first photography exhibit at the age of 8.
Livingit: What is the inspiration for your art?
Kristy Elena: Artwork is my way of working through various issues in society that bother me, so I’m often inspired by societal interactions and things that have happened to me. Aesthetically, I’m inspired by everything from films, to photography and other artists.
Livingit: What do you want to give to the world through your art?
Kristy Elena: I don’t know how my artwork influences people. I just want to share my perspective and experiences and whatever people take away from it is absolutely fine.
Livingit: What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?
Kristy Elena: When I was young I used to use my father’s Leica cameras, back when everything was still film-based. Later, when I moved onto digital, I used a little Canon powershot.
It wasn’t the most sophisticated camera but it was what I was able to have at the time and I was able to practice and start cultivating my own style. I now have a Canon 60D and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone. I use my iPhone as well because the best camera is the one you have most readily available.
Livingit: How do you best describe your current style of photography?
Kristy Elena: My photography style is dreamy yet dark. I like moody toning and a touch of surrealism with wide angles and expressive lighting.
Livingit: Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
Kristy Elena: My father has always been a huge inspiration and a wonderful source of knowledge. He has taught me so much, not just about equipment and technique but also about mentality and how to find my personal vision through practice.
In addition, I am inspired by the many wonderful photographers throughout Instagram. I feel the visual arts community is very strong on that social platform and being able to see so many different styles in one place has helped me expand my own abilities and vision.
Livingit: If there was one thing you would want us to know about you, what would it be?
Kristy Elena: I love to laugh and make jokes. I feel that having a sense of humor has improved my work.
Livingit: How has your art influenced you as a person?
Kristy Elena: Working on artwork helps me feel better. It helps me work through the things in society that are upsetting. It helps me focus my excess energy that otherwise causes anxiety and restlessness. It has helped me be happier, feel calmer and work through negativity while at the same time being equally fun and challenging.
Livingit: How do you feel when people say, “The camera is just a tool; it’s the photographer who matters.”
Kristy Elena: I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
Livingit: When you go on one of your travels, what all do you take with you? Why?
Kristy Elena: When I travel I bring my cameras, my laptop and my husband, because all three are essential for the best possible experience!
Livingit: Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
Kristy Elena: No. I tend to not buy that many gadgets, only the ones that will help me achieve the look and feel that I want.
Livingit: What kind of tools do you use for post processing?
Kristy Elena: Lightroom. I import my latest batch of photos into the program and work on them individually. I edit the shots I feel like working on in a given moment. I try not to edit too many photos in one sitting. It’s what works for me because I like to keep the process as enjoyable as possible and give each photo the time and attention it deserves. Occasionally, I also use Photoshop if I need to do something that Lightroom cannot.
Livingit: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Kristy Elena: I’m always trying to learn and improve and as long as I am enjoying the process I do not have any regrets. Even if I’d known more when I first started, I don’t think I’d have known what to do with the extra knowledge yet. Visual creativity is a process that is about so much more than technical know-how.
Livingit: Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
Kristy Elena: I always do my best given the circumstances at hand. If something works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, tomorrow is always another day. My overall attitude is very go-with-the-flow and I think that aspect of my personality translates into my photography style.
Livingit: Color vs. Black and White. Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different?
Kristy Elena: I love both color and black and white but these days I tend to work more in color. Some of my earliest photos are in black and white and perhaps one day I will do more of it again. The process is different, primarily in the editing phase. Though it helps to know if you’ll be doing black and white while shooting as sometimes you may choose your camera settings a bit differently.
Livingit: If you were allowed to showcase just one photograph from your entire collection, which one would it be and why?
Kristy Elena: This is such a difficult question! I think for me it would always be my most recent shot as I have a tendency to get most attached to my newest work.
Livingit: What inspired you to start #FreeArtForTheWorld?
Kristy Elena: #FreeArtForTheWorld started pretty organically. My husband and I were participating in free art Fridays in New York and enjoyed the experience so much that we no longer waited for Fridays. When we traveled, we took pieces with us and that’s how it came to be. We do it because we enjoy it and we like the idea that art can be for everyone, not just for people who can afford it. It is our version of street art because we’re not graffiti artists or muralists so by leaving pieces on the street, it’s our way of participating in the global street art movement where art becomes accessible to everyone and our spaces are beautified with something that isn’t advertising a product.
Livingit: What advice do you have for budding photographers?
Kristy Elena: Experiment, shoot frequently and edit your photos! Don’t get too bogged down in feeling you need better equipment. A great camera can be fantastic but you can begin developing your eye and style with whatever you have at your disposal. You’ll be surprised some of the amazing shots you can get with even a low level camera or a decent cell phone.
There are many people who are anti-editing but, in my opinion, the photograph is not complete until it is edited. Photography is about sharing vision, perspective and emotion. A dry, unedited snapshot is rarely as powerful as one that has been edited to bring out the emotion behind the subject matter.
And lastly, I would say to take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. It’s wonderful hearing the opinions of seasoned photographers, but taking their word as law can sometimes stunt creativity rather than help it flow. If everyone photographed things in the exact same way then photography would be boring!
Find the ways that work best for you and never stop learning and improving. Have fun and happy shooting!
An exciting mix of traveling, photography and art is what makes up most of Kristy’s life, her devotion and determination to share her art with the world is admirable.
For great photography tips, check out How Holding a Camera Right Can Make All the Difference
We can truly wish that her spirit will motivate more photographers to share their work and their experiences. Hope her tips come in handy when you decide to picture your life through a lens!