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Conversations with Valentina Sepúlveda

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valentina Sepúlveda.  

Valentina, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Ever since I was little, I was pulled toward everything that had a creative spark in it. At that age I did not perceive it as a hobby or goal, for me, it was simply playing, exploring the world with curiosity, and seeking the beauty in it. As every child does, I had no limit to my imagination or the things I created. Art, until this day, has always been my escapism, a breath of fresh air and a sense of it all. When I was young, I had no idea one could be an artist, it never crossed my mind, nevertheless me becoming one, that required talent, talent I believed I didn’t possess. So, I went through life pursuing other things, other hobbies, but always seeking that allure the world would provide in the simplest of things, making my idealistic perception of my reality, of how I wanted the world to feel and look. 

Photography was a quiet itch in the back of my mind, ever since my first Bratz camera when I was 7, or that Kodak V1003 that my father would carry around and let me borrow, ever since looking at the family archives became a hobby, going through boxes and boxes of photographs that detailed my parents’ life, I was fascinated to get a peek of them as people, as friends, as brothers, as wives, as newly parents through this printed image. Photography was fascinating, but I repeat, just an itch. 

It was not until I was seventeen when that itch became a burn, a desire per says. My father gifted me a Canon PowerShot for my birthday, just for fun, seeing how I was always interested in capturing moments, in telling stories. That storytelling urge translated into a pursuit for a film career. I liked visual arts and telling stories, I put one and two together and the answer was quite simple, but nevertheless, unsatisfactory. I never felt like that was my path, but it confused me because it made sense, it just never felt right. 

It was the year 2020 and the world stopped. Covid hit and quarantine was our only option. We were all bored out of our minds, isolated, and probably thinking too much. I dropped out of school because the online methods felt like they were sucking my life. The funny thing about this was how easy that decision felt, like a weight of my shoulders, I never looked back, and I thank my past self for that every day. 

So here I was, no school, no job, and if I may add, depressed. For the first time in my life, I had no idea what I wanted to do or become; I felt lost. I had always been the type of person that had her next five years planned, and now here I was, not even knowing what tomorrow would bring me. Then I remembered that itch, that thing that always brought me joy and had only been pursuing as a hobby, a side hustle. I became curious with this world of still images and emerged hard and fast. There it was, my breath of fresh air, my sense of it all. 

I truly believe this passion is the love of my life, as corny as it all sounds. The more I learned the more I fell in love, the whole concept of it all amazed me. The more I did it, the more it felt right. Even though I was grown, some of my childhood ideologies persisted, for I never thought I could pursue photography as a profession. Not that I did not know it existed, it just never felt viable for me, especially coming out of the film school, it was always a little looked down. However, knowing this was my path saved me, it gave my peace and purpose. 

Quarantine for me was the start of my small career. It was watching tutorials relentlessly, taking self-portraits, reading articles, photoshoots with homemade sets, endless portraits of my family members, my two friends, and my partner at the time, and lots and lots of experimenting. Then I started sharing my work. 

The photography community welcomed me with open arms. I met some incredible and talented people online that helped me navigate this new pursuit. It’s funny because even though we were going through the most isolated era as a society, I never felt more connected to the world. I have to remark on Velia de la Cruz and the incredible work she’s done with Fotografas del Norte, I would not be here without the support she’s brought to the community. 

Slowly everything started to clear up, my goals, my desires, and my next steps. I was inspired by everyone and everything and it became crystal clear that photography was my passion. I entered art school and that haziness that surrounded me the first time I entered school was completely gone. No doubt, just peace. I am still very young and my career is on its baby steps, and I know the hazinnes will come back, and I do not have it all figured out, but I have this one thing I adore, this one thing that gives me purpose, that enables me to immortalize my reality, my loved ones, that helps me seek beauty because, at the end of the day, that’s what’s helps us stay alive. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Like I mentioned in the last question, some of the struggles I faced came in finding my path as an artist, and purpose in life. Being someone that struggled a lot with mental health, this became particularly hard, there were very foggy times. Now, emerged in this world, some of the biggest steps back I face come from this past faced society. I feel like this is a common problem amongst artists and creators, having this intense pressure to create endlessly like a machine, making meaningful and quality work at the speed of light, because if you don´t, you get left behind. I find it incredibly hard to make fulfilling work that is innovative and shocking, never been seen before. It’s like we are creating art for the service of the Espectador, and not for the sole purpose of expression. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am an artistic photographer and a visual artist. I specialize in portraits but have slowly been emerging in other types of mediums. My work has always been characterized with surreal touches and nostalgic moods. I like telling stories through my images, being only one or a whole series of them. I find that through images one holds a great power over our reality, with photography we can stop time and immortalize people and our surroundings, we become part of what we capture. I like to play around with different techniques, I usually shoot digital but I also have a great love for film and experiment with it when I can. 

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
This one is hard. More than a memory I would say a feeling, my favorite feeling as a kid was how long everything felt, how prevailing it all was, and how intense the simplest of things were. A two-hour road trip would feel like a three-month vacation, and growing up felt like a myth told by adults to scare us. This feeling made every memory special, even the mundane ones. 

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