Fine Art Photography Daily

Sonia Paulino

Los Angeles portrait photographer, Sonia Paulino, is an avid people-watcher, and that quality is reflected in her ability to capture more than what is in front of the lens. She was inspired by Rembrandts and Vermeers at the Rijks museum early in her career, and much of her work feels like a contemporary echo of those significant portraits. Sonia was recently selected as a finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which is on display at The National Portrait Gallery until August 22, 2010, for her work, Dog Walkers of Echo Park. Sonia recieved her MFA in Photography at UC San Diego and has a long list of awards and exhibitions.

Sonia’s parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic and she spent her childhood moving between NYC and Florida, and between a huge family of 24 aunts and uncles. Perhaps that is why she is so drawn to engaging with and photographing people. The magic and mechanics of photography seem to lend themselves well to my temperament. I’m still really moved by the most traditional portrait paintings, the kind from centuries ago. My work emulates my art history heroes, and revels in the thrilling specifics and mundane generalities of one’s own existence.

As a portrait photographer, Sonia states: I am constantly reflecting upon my own identity in relation to those around me. I am intrigued by the oscillation between individual and type and consider the genre of portraiture a method for gathering clues about myself, and my community. Throughout my practice in portrait photography certain questions have arisen about the relationship between artist, subject, and viewer; and how eye contact, gesture, and environment might reveal certain aspects of an individual’s character. My use of long exposures and studio lighting results in portraits imbued with a sense of self-awareness in relation to the camera. In photographing people with whom they care about there is an additional layer of social interest that is inviting of the viewer’s interpretation of the subjects’ connection to one another. An initially sentimental impression might yield to a more ambiguous sense of the subjects, their surroundings, and the relationship they share.

In my recent work, Dog Walkers of Echo Park, I attempt to document the changing demographic of my Los Angeles neighborhood by photographing people with their dogs around the local park. The series evolves from previous works about companionship, care, and mutual identity, with the issues of time and place being even more significant. They are a proud recognition of the ordinary, and compassionately depict human, and canine, diversity.

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