Lucy Helena knew she had a passion for photography since the 8th grade, when she also got her first camera. She followed her passion through school, at Tisch School of the Arts, and at the Tyler School of Art.
Soon enough, she started combining photography and social media. Her first job after college was at the TriBeCa Film Festival, managing their social accounts, and she then went on to work with clients such as NBCUniversal and UrbanOutfitters.
She is New York-based, moving from Manhattan to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2021, a neighborhood she loves for the vintage shops, quaint little restaurants, moody cocktail bars, speakeasies, colorful streets, and for its calm.
Currently, she is a freelance photographer and specializes in portraits and lifestyle. Lucy sees that this combination between social media and photography can yield amazing results, because art can spread at a faster pace online.
I think that social media is introducing photography to a lot more people, which is pushing me to be more creative and set myself apart more. Because of social media, everybody has an opportunity and platform to showcase their art.
If you do check her own Instagram account, you’ll see that she is a strong believer in the power of women. Through her platform, she communicates about their strength and beauty.
Girl power!!! I’d say 9/10 times before any shoot, the client will verbally doubt themselves in front of me. They’ll say something along the lines of “You’re going to have to direct me – I have no idea what I’m doing’ or ‘I’m so awkward”. When the final images are revealed, my goal is for my clients to feel powerful, beautiful, and portrayed the way they see themselves in their heads. I want my clients to feel confident and proud when they walk away from a shoot with me.
Portraits are definitely her thing, but there are also some places she’d particularly love to photograph. Locations in the US and Asia are making the list: Lake Powell in Utah, for the natural curves of the canyons, Quinault Rainforest in Washington, the forests in Forks – because she loved Twilight, and the islands, temples and the nature in Bali.
Looking back at her career as a photographer, Lucy feels that the progress she’s made keeps her going. Over the past year, she felt she was stuck – probably like most of us, given the pandemic and all the uncertainty. But she found a way to cope with this and we think it’s a very valuable way of overcoming difficult moments, whether you’re an artist or not:
I recently dug up some old hard drives and scrolled through images I had created back between 2014-2016, and WOW! It was crazy how much improvement I saw in my own work. Seeing my progress and knowing I can keep evolving creatively is very motivating. But getting on social media can sometimes help with any mental blocks, I find myself scrolling, saving, and screenshotting so many things these days.
Scrolling through social media also helps her to remain creative and motivated. For example, when she sees something she doesn’t like, she’s inspired to recreate it in her own unique style.
Movies also inspire me a lot. Anything Wes Anderson makes my imagination go crazy. I also LOVE the movie The Love Witch by Anna Biller — I don’t think it’s necessarily a well-written movie (lol), but the visuals are captivating. I also grew up addicted to Funny Girl and Funny Lady starring Barbra Streisand. I think the glamour in those movies really influenced me.
Getting to more technical aspects, she says that in photography, it’s important to know the rules – the rule of thirds, lighting techniques, and retouching practices. But then she adds that the main reason for this is that once you’ve mastered them, you break them! “Mess it all up! At least that’s what I did!” she says.
Photography should be creative, fun, expressive and actually, one of her favorite shoots ever is exactly that: fun, chaotic, and amazing. It involves 2 of her friends, colors, glitter, gels, and fabric.
We ended up doing 3 different looks – Blue, Pink, and Yellow. I think I was just trying to make a mess, to be honest. I was throwing fabric around, breaking all the photography rules I had been taught, trying to capture movement. What’s funny about those photos is that it took me YEARS to edit. I think I just loved that memory, it was 3 people fully focused on just having fun, creating something out of nothing. I got around to finishing the photos a few years ago and it’s funny – they look like they were inspired by Euphoria. But I’m happy to say the metadata proves they were taken October 31st, 2018.
Talking about editing photos, we wanted to know her take on editing apps and what needs they should meet in order to stay relevant for photographers in 2022. The first thing she mentions is Artificial Intelligence and effects.
I think a lot of A.I. will be involved with editing apps. Right now, there is an app called FaceApp and the adjustments it can make to faces are crazy. I also think effects that were only possible after tinkering for hours in photoshop, will now be available to us at the click of a button. I think all apps should have a high-quality output, the ability to view your gallery both on desktop and mobile, and allow filters to be layered.
To conclude, we wanted to learn more about her plans for 2022. This year is very up in the air, she says, like the last 3.
Work-wise; I’m planning to work with a lot more artists this year, get unstuck and experiment a lot more with my work. Life-wise; I have so many weddings this year, hopefully, a vacation or two will be squeezed in there and I have a personal goal of trying all the restaurants in Greenpoint!
Learn more about Lucy and her work on https://lucyhelenaphotography.com.