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Who said we can’t study something and become a master in another discipline? Larsen Sotelo is a Philippine fashion photographer and art director based in L.A. that aspires to reflect the most intimate and creative background of femininity. He studied Graphic Design in California, and when his boss fired him he felt it was a blessing. He started then a photography research and nowadays he has worked with brands like Paco Rabanne or Jeffrey Campbell – with whom he shooted our beloved national model Sita Abellán. We talk with Larsen about photography, goals in life and the adversities of loving to shoot the women figure.
Tell us your story. How did you end up being a photographer?
I took some photography classes in college but never felt I was good at it, I was studying and majored in Graphic Design. After college, I started working for a women’s clothing brand as graphic designer for about 7 years, I got bored with graphic design and stumbled into photography again because we would do a lot photoshoots for the company. I saw how fun and creative you can get with fashion photography so I started doing a lot of research with different fashion photographers, like Juergen Teller, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and so on – and I just really got into it and fell in love. I then got let go from my job (probably the best thing that ever happened to me) which pushed me to pursue photography and the rest is history.
Do you remember your first camera and the first photo you took?
Yes and no, I remember having a polaroid camera when I was a really young but don't remember what I took. I don't have vivid memories of when I was really young, kind of weird, plus our house burned down back then and burned a lot of belongings including photos and such.
What a valious loss. Is there something specific that you're looking for to capture through your lens?
Not really, sometimes I let things happen or capture moments that I don’t plan or look for. I like shooting stuff that are unpredictable, if that make sense.

Talking about unpredictable stuff… How would you imagine a shooting with Donald Trump and Melania Knauss?
Haha, that should be fun! I have too many ideas in my head right now but I’m sure Donald and Melania wouldn’t like it.
You also do your own art direction for your shootings, or do you work with a team?
Yes and Yes. For example, with Jeffrey Campbell, I work with the same amazing team. Our creative director, Bridgette Bayley, does a lot of art direction but also lets me be me when I shoot, which I love.
In a way, a shooting reflects the personality of the photographer but also of the model that's exposed. How do you choose your models? Does the model adapt to the narrative you have in mind, or do you look for a personality that already fits?
I like to talk to my models first and get a vibe if they’re only wanting to shoot for their Instagram contents or really want to create art with me. I like to look at model’s IG feed and get a vibe of who they are, then talk to them for a bit and what they’re about. I love models who are quirky, sexy, who have a great sense of fashion and style, not afraid of anything and open minded.

“Before shooting anyone I try to know if they’re only wanting to shoot for their Instagram contents or really want to create art with me.”
Female models are clearly more present in your work. How’s that?
Women are just more beautiful and more interesting to capture than men, to be honest – in my opinion, of course.
But don’t you think the fashion industry and some photographers abuse the female figure?
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation as photographer?
Definitely. When I get angry DMs from boyfriends.

Who would you love to photograph?
Sounds cliche, but Kate Moss. 
Tell us, what’s next?
Art shows, galleries and books.
To finish the interview Larsen, there’s something important about you we forgot to talk about?
I love food, but I will never be a food photographer.

Mireia Pascual

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