12 Questions with Christina Gandolfo, Photographer

12 Questions for a supercool human

You may recall that I got to meet super awesome human Christina last time I was in SoCal, in August. We had originally found each other through Instagram and also have a mutual friend or two. And it was her cat Lucy that inspired me to write a children’s story: “Lucy and the Paper Lantern.” Which, by the way, is still going to be illustrated by another internet friend, Cynthia Frenette, and self-published – probably sometime next year.
The world is getting smaller and smaller. Isn’t it amazing that you can meet such incredible people, just by a few taps of your fingers?

Christina is a professional photographer in Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to Los Angeles Magazine. She also takes on all sorts of projects for other publications and individuals. When we met, she had some really interesting insights into photography as storytelling, so I was really excited when she agreed to answer a few additional questions on her experiences as a creative person.
Below are the questions, and thoughtful answers, as well as a few of her photos and links to her work.
Thanks again, Christina!

12 questions with christina gandolfo
christina and lucy

Tell us a about yourself – what would you like us to know about you?
I’m fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, outgoing, energetic but with a private side. Communication and authentic connection is critical and I’m not one who likes living my life online or divulging personal thoughts or opinions in a public way. My closest friendships span 30+ years. I’m opinionated yet empathetic and easily persuaded by good arguments. I like people who challenge me in a thoughtful way. Also, I played dress-up with my pets as a kid; way before it was the norm.

How did you get started in the photography business, and how long have you been doing it professionally?
Photography was a hobby and passion since age 12. I started shooting regularly after a cancer diagnosis in 2005 and two years later decided to shift careers– from magazine writer/editor to photographer (not a giant leap but it did require starting over in many regards). I’ve been living in LA and shooting assignment work since 2009.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get started in photography as a hobby? How about as a business?
Hobby and business are vastly different worlds. As a hobbyist take the time to learn about the interplay between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. At its core photography is about balancing light and telling the camera how to create the image you see in your head. Unless you know how to work these three fundamentals it’s just trial-and-error.
Advice for the business of photography: First and foremost have a clear point of view and shoot consistent work that conveys your unique perspective. There’s a surplus of competent photographers in today’s market so it’s not enough to know how to light and take a flattering portrait. It’s the photographers who create a consistent, recognizable body of work that get the best work. Also, be ready to work hard. Really, really hard.

Why were you drawn to photography specifically?
The opportunity to show; not tell. And to capture something in a way that otherwise might not be seen.

How do you get ideas for your photography projects?
I tend to get a lot of ideas in the shower. But inspiration is everywhere. I do a lot of walking in LA and often I get creative nudges by simple scenes I see in my neighborhood. And all the usual places—film, tv, books… it can be something as simple as a beautifully crafted sentence or use of color or brilliant cinematography that may flash on the screen only for a second.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a “creative” person?
Showing range while remaining consistent to a single point of view.

Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, and do you think this has any bearing on your work?
Ambivert all the way! I’m social and outgoing but also cherish moments when I’m home with no commitments and I require more alone time than people who know me might guess. I need time to process… I’m not one to just sail through life without examining where I’ve been and what’s next.

What are some of your hobbies – what else do you like to do besides taking pictures?
I’m active by nature. Urban hiking, riding my bike, traveling, spending time with my partner, family, good friends, live music, live performance, books, documentaries, house projects. Making lists; crossing things off!

Were you creative as a child? Can you give us an example of something you did that stands out in your memory? What were some of your favorite things to do?
My mom swears I had a lot of imaginary friends but I remember only one—her name was Celery and she was around for a while. I was big on dares as a kid; my family could get me to do just about anything on a dare. I loved building forts and exploring and getting into relatively harmless mischief. I’ve always been good at pushing boundaries without getting into a whole lot of trouble. I guess there’s a certain creativity in that.

If you had to define your “Personal Brand” in one sentence, what would it be?
Colorful, energetic, happy, humorous.

Do you like to read? If so, what kinds of things to you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books?
I’m a sucker for a good memoir by smart, funny women—Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaeling, Lena Dunham, Felicia Day, Tina Fey. Current read is “#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

Where is your favorite place to get coffee? (If not coffee, then tea, or alcohol?)
Paper or Plastik in the Pico-Fairfax neighborhood of LA.

12 questions with christina gandolfo
christina’s cat, doo
12 questions with christina gandolfo
kermit, as photographed by christina
12 questions for christina gandolfo
tv’s scott foley, as photographed by christina

You can find Christina’s web site here, and you can also follow her on Instagram.

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