Gabriel Perez Silva at the Met Gala
By Kayla Royster
Gabriel Perez Silva is an emerging twenty-one-year-old fashion photographer, born in Cucuta, Colombia and raised in South Florida. Prior to pursuing photography Silva was a D1 swimmer in college winning many titles but found that he hated the sport. After enduring shoulder surgery, he turned his complete focus on photography and the rest is history. Silva has lived and worked in Italy, Miami, and currently resides in New York City.
Kayla Royster: You shared earlier that you’ve moved quite a lot. You were born in Colombia, raised in South Florida, and now reside in Brooklyn. Do you think that your ethnicity or the area in which you live influences the photography that you construct?
Gabriel Perez Silva: My nationality, and the environment I grew up in definitely influences my eye as an artist. I didn’t have the knowledge or vocabulary to express my emotions, and I sort of subconsciously found a way to depict the feelings I hoped for or felt through my work. I’ve been dabbling in other mediums such as music, cinematography, painting, design to further develop my range and ability to express other thoughts and emotions.
KR: One of you latest accomplishments include your Met Gala photos being featured within Vogue. An achievement that I am sure many are envious of. What camera did you decide to bring with to capture those moments?
GP: I shoot most of my work on Canon, but usually carry around a film camera to shoot stuff when there’s a chance or to continue my “Portraits” series.
KR: The Met Gala event is a huge deal; I was wondering how you got involved in it? I noticed on your Instagram that you worked alongside model Winne Harlow. She was wearing a dress created by fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger in your photos. Was it Harlow or Hilfiger that reached out to you?
GS: I was contacted by Winnie's representatives, I had no affiliation to Tommy. Winnie’s a dope girl, a lot more on the real side vs a lot of top models I’ve worked with.
KR: That’s an amazing feat knowing that they reached out to you, favoring your work over others. Did that add to the pressure of capturing the moment within a perfect picture? From your point of view in those moments, what satisfied your idea of the perfect photo?
GS: There's never a perfect photo, because art is subjective. Never will everyone love a piece. As an artist you’re never fully satisfied with your work, you can always do something better. As you grow and develop as an artist you see how much more you really have to learn and work towards. I like to ride my wave and see what looks good and what doesn’t versus coming in with a set concept because that would only limit us artistically. It's more of what looks right, and what feels right.
KR: You didn’t just capture one model, but a star as well. Your photos that were featured within Vogue didn’t just feature Winnie Harlow, Jaden Smith appeared in some of them as well. How did Smith get involved in the Harlow photoshoot?
GP: I shot her preparation leading up to the Met Gala, and the one with Jaden helping her with her dress was when we arrived. I didn’t shoot the actual event.
KR: The photos that you took surely made an impression, especially to Vogue. Did you submit a portfolio of your work to them, or did Vogue reach out to you?
GP: I didn’t submit anything to Vogue. That was a surprise to me. I was definitely hyped when I saw it. I found out about an hour after they had posted the story. It was the first time something really made me be like damn man, wow in a while. I definitely will have more work coming up in Vogue in the future, I’m only at the start of my career. I just turned 21 last month.
KR: Do you edit the photos that you take? Were any of the photographs that you took at the Met Gala edited?
GP: I always edit my own work, I don’t have a retoucher [sic] at the moment, maybe I’ll consider it later on. The Met Gala photos were mostly straight out of the camera or with minor adjustments.
KR: Out of all the Met Gala photos, Vogue selected your photos for a reason. What do you believe makes your photography stand out from the others taken at the event?
GP: I think what makes my work stand out from others is that I don’t follow the typical and expected way of shooting + editing. I’m self-taught, and not afraid to try different things and leave room for unexpected surprises.
KR: This one photoshoot came with multiple accomplishments for you including working alongside a famous model, capturing Met Gala moments, as well as being featured in Vogue. What's your next step from here?
GP: My next stop is to continue trusting the process and working towards overall success. I am also focusing on booking less small private sessions, and branding more towards bigger brand clients.