An Interview with Gabriel Perez Silva
Gabriel Perez Silva is a 22 year old photographer whose career is still new, but rapidly growing. Born in Colombia and raised in South Florida, he was a competitive swimmer for most of his life until a serious surgery set him back. It was when he stopped swimming that his artistic career blossomed. In the past two years, he has lived in Miami, Florence, and now New York. One of his first big breaks was being the personal photographer for model Winnie Harlow while she attended the 2018 Met Gala. Since then, Gabriel’s work has been featured in Vogue, PAPER Mag, L’Officiel, People, and more. He has a body of work featuring actors like Tommy Dorfman and Dylan Sprouse, and models Salem Mitchell and Bella Hadid. Notably one of his biggest achievements was shooting Winnie Harlow for MAC’s 25 year anniversary of Viva Glam; a recreation of Rupaul's 1994 campaign. His portfolio is a mixture of portraiture both on and off a set, candid street-style photos, and unique experimental photography.
Matthew Park: You’ve had an interesting journey from growing up to where you are now. Could you explain what led you to becoming a photographer?
Gabriel Perez Silva: It has definitely been an interesting journey. I’ve always liked to look back on different times in my life and remember what I was feeling, how I was living at the time, with photography I was able to stop time and carry a piece of that forever.
Matthew Park: How has living in different places influenced your artistic style? What makes New York the place to be for you?
Gabriel Perez Silva: Sometimes people’s style become too accustomed to their artistic culture in their area and they can’t see past that. Different places have different styles and ways of seeing things. Living all over gave me that push over the wall to not be held back and to be able to see things in different ways and with a different eye.
Matthew Park: What was the moment that made you realize your photography was becoming more of a profession than a hobby?
Gabriel Perez Silva: When I moved to NYC there was no coming back. I was leaving for a three month internship but I told my closest friends that I wasn’t coming back and that I would find a way to survive until I broke through.
Matthew Park: Is your background in analog photography? If so, how does your craftsmanship change when working digitally vs working in a darkroom?
Gabriel Perez Silva: Contrary to popular belief, I shoot mostly digital. It wasn’t until recently that I started playing more with film however my aesthetic is very nostalgic and film style. I used to develop my black and white rolls myself but now I get everything developed at a lab.
Matthew Park: How would you define your style of photography?
Gabriel Perez Silva: My style is very moody but colorful, and new, yet aged. I put my feelings and emotions into my work consciously or subconsciously. Art is part of my healing. I ask you to look at one of my pieces and tell me how you feel because it carries a story within it.
Matthew Park: Which project of yours has taught you the most about the industry?
Gabriel Perez Silva: Everything this past year has opened my eyes to the industry and thrown me right in the middle of it.
Matthew Park: Are there any artists that have influenced your creative practices?
Gabriel Perez Silva: I am a big fan of Norman Parkinson. He included himself in a lot of images and let his personality shine through.
Matthew Park: What part of your process excites you the most?
Gabriel Perez Silva: Hanging out and meeting new people and then going through what I shot with some music and creating a piece post shoot.
Matthew Park: How do you stay current and original in such a fast paced working industry?
Gabriel Perez Silva: I just keep on being and doing me, which is rare in a world where a lot of people are trying to copy someone else. If your mind and energy is authentic and original it will show in your work.
Matthew Park: What is one of the biggest challenges of being a photographer whose work is published online most of the time?
Gabriel Perez Silva: People start to try and recreate your style, which is good for people to try to evolve, but not to try and copy someone's style. Take that and develop your own. It’s also harder to police when your images are being used without consent sometimes.
Matthew Park: What do you do to prepare yourself for a photoshoot?
Gabriel Perez Silva: I just listen to some music and make sure all my gear is in place.
Matthew Park: If you could tell yourself anything when you just started out, what would it be?
Gabriel Perez Silva: I would tell myself to just keep doing what I think is right and moving in the direction I feel is right.
Matthew Park: Is there a particular direction you would like your work to be going in? Who/what is your dream client?
Gabriel Perez Silva: My aspiration is to become the new, young, stylish fashion photographer on the block. In terms of a dream client I would really love to work with a lot of the high fashion, high end brands soon and with Justin Bieber, I feel like we could relate with some things haha.
Matthew Park: Any projects that you have been working on recently that we can look forward to?
Gabriel Perez Silva: The most present and exciting project I’m continuing and working on at the moment is my work with Scoliosis Foundation Ghana. I’ll actually be traveling to Accra next week as a special guest of honor to deliver the Keynote Speech on International Scoliosis Day.