Duplex: Can you talk a little about your path to becoming a professional photographer?
Anja Verdugo: I started out by sharing a lot of personal photos, just for fun, as part of a blog that I don’t update much anymore. In addition, I actively supported a lot of people in the local fashion community, and then people started asking me to shoot for them. Everything grew very organically.
D: Where do you find inspiration?
AV: There are specific color palettes that inspire me, usually natural hues mixed with pastels. Spring is my most visually satisfying season.
D: How did the initial Bored Girl portrait happen?
AV: I was shooting portraits with Ally Ford, the original Bored Girl who inspired the whole series. She wore a sunny yellow beaded cardigan, her hair was done in braids, and she wore pink lipstick. Ally made this amazing, bored face, looking like a girl who was posing for a back-to-school portrait taken after a summer vacation that ended too soon. I started taking more portraits of my friends on colorful backdrops and by the third girl, the boredom took over.
D: Do you see this series to continue to grow past the Duplex show?
AV: Maybe! There are a lot of girls who still want their boredom captured. I’d like to continue the series, but I want to stop before I get legitimately bored with the entire thing.
D: Just how many bored girls are there? Are there any bored guys?
AV: I have photographed somewhere between 30-40 Bored Girls. There are no bored guys, but “Dudes with ‘Tudes” was suggested by a friend. This series holds a lot more power by only showing women.
D: How did you choose your bored girls?
AV: Anyone can be a Bored Girl. I photographed friends, friends-of-friends, co-workers, and strangers from the internet.
D: Both of us really loved playing bored girls! How did you invoke a ‘bored’ look to show through in your subjects?
AV: It’s not always easy to look bored! When I’m shooting, I tend to be energetic and joke a lot, so I had to learn to talk slowly, in a calm way, while describing situations that might make someone feel bored. Some girls are naturally inclined to make a Bored Girl face, but others are so expressive, either through their facial features or their personalities. Regardless, most people can relate to feeling bored.
D: How do you describe your photographic style?
AV: My style is soft, natural and a bit otherworldly. My photos are romantic, but my subjects are never weak. Their strength lies in subtlety.
D: Your finished photos are usually so complex and multilayered, what is your design/post work process? or How do you conceptualize your photos. Does it happen before you shoot or in post?
AV: My editing process varies from shoot to shoot. I love using physical objects (plants, clear plastics, glass) as filters while I’m shooting, and then I experiment a lot with my post-processing. Some of my images are super natural, while others are supernatural.
D: You also use film in much of your work, how do you feel this changes your process and outcome?
AV: I enjoy film and digital equally. I have a lot of bad luck with my film cameras breaking without warning, but on the opposite side, I’ve used my digital camera so much that my lens is breaking, too. Can someone invent a new kind of photographic process?
D: Aside from your camera, what is your favorite piece of gear?
AV: I love my strobe and soft box. A lot of photographers claim to hate studio lighting, but I love it. I worked with natural light exclusively for years, and still work with it frequently, but using a strobe gave me more power to control and manipulate light.
D: What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve been involved with?
AV: I like being the boss, aesthetically speaking. Regardless of boss status, my favorite shoots are the ones where I get to work with fun, talented people.
D: Who are your favorite artists or designer here in Portland and beyond?
AV: Right now my favorite thing is the Wendy comic by Canadian artist Walter Scott.
All images courtesy of Anja Verdugo