The first time I heard about Cristina Otero was when I read a Huffington Post article titled, “ Cristina Otero, 16-Year-Old photographer, creates stunning self-portraits with fruit.”
The article showed a number of images from her series entitled, “Tutti Frutti.” They were, essentially, just pictures of her face. Though she is obviously attractive, these images were striking. In each one, it seemed like, through attitude, performance and some very creative makeup, Cristina tried to personify the flavor of the fruit she was taking her portrait with. In one, there was a tangy slice of lemon and she showed a stunning expression of a puckered face. In another, she gives a seductive gaze through her pale makeup while she enjoys an incredibly red, plump strawberries. Each one of the images drew me in. They captured me entirely and I could not take away my eyes in fear I would miss a detail. I then realized that I had momentarily missed the biggest detail of all… that she was just sixteen. These pictures looked like they were achieved by someone who’d been doing this for a long time and knew exactly what they were doing. That’s when I realized I had to know much more about her.
Cristina was gracious enough to take time off of her busy schedule and answer a few questions for 1X.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you? Were you always interested in photography?
My name is Cristina Otero, I’m a photographer currently living in Madrid, Spain. I was born in Galicia (Northwest of Spain). I am 18 years old. I started photography at 13, after watching some America’s Next Top Model (an amateur models competition TV show). I fell in love with the lighting, makeup, and expressions. I then knew I wanted to do the same!
What is "photography" to you? How has it affected your life? Why do you like it so much?
Photography to me is therapy. It makes me feel alive and know I’m real. It allows me to be myself; it makes me free. Art has always been very important in my life, but I know now I want to dedicate all my life to creating new work.
Do you think you have a particular photo "style?" If so, was this something you chose or something you just fell into?
I would say I do, that’s what I am usually told. I fell into it! When I was younger, I actually wanted to ‘change’ my style to make people like my work, but I couldn’t do it! I loved creating dark, scary work. I know now that my style is evolving and I will just go with the flow.
"Even in death"
What do you think of other styles of photography? (Landscape, photojournalism, abstract, architecture, etc)
There are amazing pieces and great photographers with styles that are very different to mine. I enjoy looking at others’ art, but I am not interested in creating that kind of work.
What's "good" about doing self portraits? What's "bad" about self portraits?
Self-portraiture teaches you a lot about yourself. You suddenly know all your flaws and ‘’perfections’, physically and emotionally speaking. This can either be good or bad; sometimes this new information may punch you in the face and make you feel miserable. But this isn’t something that happens everyday. It’s all worth it.
"Don't tell mom"
Has shooting self portraits taught you anything about yourself?
Where do you shoot mostly? Home? Studio? Outdoors? What do you prefer?
At home. I have created a small, portable studio in my room so I feel quite comfortable at home.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Inspiration comes basically from my own life. I take daily wonders, thoughts and fears and try to convert them into something beautifully artistic.
Are there other photographers/artists that inspire you?? If so, who are they?
I don’t know if they inspire me, but I love Zhan Jingna and Steven Klein’s work.
Do you ever experiment with your photography? Do things you wouldn't normally do?
I’m starting to do so, and I’m learning a lot from just experimenting.
What do you do when you get "photographer's block?" (When you can't think of any ideas.)
Look for them! Look up at beautiful sounding words in the dictionary and create an story around it. Listen a song, read a book. There are millions of ways to get inspired.
What other things do you besides photography? (Reading, drawing, yoga, writing, movies, etc?)
I read, write, listen to music, dance… I tremendously enjoy long, great conversations about art, history and philosophy.
What is your current toolkit? (Camera, lenses, lights, software, etc)
Camera: Pentax k3
Lenses: Pentax 70mm f2.8, Pentax 55mm f1.4, Sigma 85mm f 1.8 and Sigma 18-35mm f 1.8.
Lighting: Profoto b1 and Profoto deep silver umbrella L.
Editing Program: Photoshop cs3 and Lightroom 4.1.
How often do you shoot?
I try doing it once or twice a week, but sometimes between college and (photographic) work, it’s hard!
What is the ONE question people ask you the most?
“How do you do it?” As if it was easy to answer that!
What advice would you give someone interested in photography? How should they get started? What should they NOT do?
To experiment a lot to see what they enjoy doing the most. I began doing a bit of landscape and macro, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as with portraiture. I always recommend showing your work through social media, like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram; this will help a lot to get known.
You should NEVER copy. Ever. One thing is being inspired by an art piece, and another thing is plagiarism. Doing this will eventually pull you down.
What has been your biggest project so far?
Probably my ad campaign for the national Spanish train wheel company, Renfe.
What parts of the world have your photographs been shown at? (in galleries and/or shows)
From 2011 to now, my work has been in Spain (different places), Algeria (twice) Holland, and Germany (twice).
I've noticed that some of your latest work seems to be Fashion photography. Is this where you see your career going?
From the start, I knew I wanted to do Fashion photography. I want to mix my artistic style with fashion.
If you couldn't do photography, what other career do you think you'd be interested in?
Right now I’m in college studying Art History. My life will always revolve around art.
Do you listen to music when you're working on your photographs, and if so, what do you listen to?
Yes, I do! I mostly listen Indie, Epic, or Rock. It helps me create the mood I Desire.
I noticed you have a Youtube channel. You like showing people some of the behind-the-scenes from some of your shoots. Why is it important for you to show or teach people?
I want people to know that this started as a hobby and that it’s possible through hard-work to achieve what you desire. I want to help them to walk through such difficult path. If I was able to make it, anyone can too.
Where do you want to see yourself going with photography? Meaning, at what point would you say, "Yes! This is what I imagined being a photographer would be all about!"
I sincerely don’t think I will get to that point; I am very harsh on myself and I never feel completely satisfied. This idea makes me feel a bit sad, but I know this is what pushes me to the next level and makes me never to stop growing.
Thank you Cristina for sharing with us a bit more about who you are and what you do. We’re excited to see what works of art you come up with next.
If you’re interested in keeping up with Cristina and her work, you can find here here: