This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
Hey, Adolescent readers! This week, we want you to meet Maria Mejia. Based in Dominican Republic, this 24-year-old photographer and cinematographer has a knack for making the simplest of settings transform into a fantastical dreamscape. We talked to Maria about the creative scene in DR, why she abstains from retouching when possible, and why it’s so important to make women feel comfortable on set.
Adolescent Content: What’s the creative scene in Dominan Republic like? Are there a lot of resources for photographers and filmmakers?
Maria Mejia: The creative scene in Dominican Republic is a growing one. But at the same time, [it’s still limited in terms of] where to study, find opportunities, get paid, and even show your work. Over the past few years, though, there’s been a growth in filmmaking careers, as the movie industry is continuously growing and DR is a place where people from all over the world come to film. That opens space to work in the industry. But still, it’s pretty limited to the movie industry. I have hope for a future where the arts will be supported by the government and appreciated by people as a career.
Adolescent: What do your loved ones think about your career path?
Maria: I’ve been lucky—they’re very supportive. My parents are a big reason why I keep doing what I love. They know my passions and they walk alongside me.
Adolescent: You don’t do any retouching of the body or skin, which is still a pretty rare practice. What has the reception to that been like?
Maria: Some clients still ask for retouching, and I respect that. I always find a middle ground. [At the end of the day, I know that seeing perfect imperfection] makes everyone identify with my work.
Adolescent: Do you predominantly take portraits of women and femmes to have a comfortable shooting environment, or is it more of a political choice?
Maria: I guess it’s the other way around—femmes and women feel comfortable when a female is working with them. That’s why mostly women call me to shoot them. That’s so important for me—creating that safe feeling [on set]. [It shows in the photos.]
Adolescent: How did you get involved with photography when you were 13?
Maria: Cell phones started having cameras, and I got so curious about making memories stay. Portraits where always a big love for me. I used to take photos of my friends posing, and then later on they would use them as their profile pictures! I cared about what I was doing, and it was a way of connecting with others in my teenage years.