Angela Perez, a fashion and portrait photographer from Orlando, FL, is the latest recipient of an Alpha Female+ grant. Perez brings her passion for shedding light on those who don't often get their story told with her project, Life Celebrations: Documenting the Photographic Wisdom of Our Elders. "The inspiration for my project comes from recently being around some senior citizens," she says, "and when I was around them their energy was captivating and it was clearly obvious that they still had so much left to give. I loved hearing about their hobbies and their life. I felt like these stories needed to be told and that I wanted to be their voice. Even if it is through a simple photograph. I realized that we need to embrace our wrinkles and our age as the years made us who we are today."
Beauty, Knowledge & Wisdom
We live in a time that values youth, beauty and the constant evolution of self, and at a certain point, as we age, that slows down, and we start to get overlooked. To truly learn about ourselves and keep the nuances of our cultures alive, it's important to connect with the generations that have come before us. This is the crux of Perez' project. ''Our elders have seen the world spin on its axis for more days than many of us can comprehend," she says. ''Even in their inaction, our elders teach us essential lessons that make life better. Beauty is not defined by anything but what we perceive in the mirror. When we can learn that lesson at any age, it frees us to explore who we are on a deeper level.''
She continues, ''For these reasons, my project focuses on photographing individuals from previous generations. Only a few people from the Lost Generation and the Interbellum are still alive today, and their lives deserve documentation. It will not be long before the Greatest Generation, and the Silents encounter the end of their journey."
Telling An Authentic Story
With her Alpha Female+ grant, Perez will expand on how she is able to help convey their stories of older generations through the power of photography. ''As photographers, we strive to capture authenticity. Our goal should be to capture the most accurate image possible. With older adults, their character becomes immediately apparent within a portrait. From their facial expressions to the quiet thoughtfulness found in their eyes, we can all glean something from these individuals that improve our lives in many ways. Instead of taking these people for granted or placing them in homes where they get ignored, I want to celebrate each life as a collection of days that was well-lived.''
Perez' Photography Process
As Perez pursues her project over the coming weeks, she'll be pushing her photographic skills to tell the stories to the fullest. "My preference for shooting is with telephoto lenses and they are my go-to for my style of photography," she explains. "The longer focal length creates a beautiful compression that is very flattering for facial features. It also allows me to capture intimate portraits of my subjects without me having to be on top of them. This allows my subjects to feel comfortable and let loose a bit because I am shooting from a distance versus shoving a camera really close to their faces. My most-used focal lengths are the 85mm and 200mm focal lengths. I also prefer shooting with primes because it allows me to shoot at shallower apertures like 1.2 and 1.4 so I can use a shallow depth of field that really helps me isolate specific parts of the image. Most of the time you will catch me shooting a shallowed depth of field whenever I can, even when I am shooting in the studio."
To keep up with Perez and her project, follow along on Alpha Universe.