Monica Baddar is a photographer specializing in fashion now based in LA (previously NYC)
Which place do you call home?
Are you self taught or schooled?
Self taught. I am a huge nerd. I got adobe photoshop elements when I was 12 and taught myself everything.
In college, I ended up changing my degree from physiology to photography in the middle of my junior year (and finished my degree only a semester behind!)
Although I came into it technically savvy, “art school” definitely taught me how to be less literal and more conceptual.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve been taking pictures for so long I honestly can’t even tell you. The second I had a cell phone that was capable of taking pictures, I photographed EVERYTHING. I still do to this day. Especially people. Humans are fascinating to me. When someone gets in front of my camera, I start to see the little quirks, mannerisms, habits and that makes me want to pull it out onto the photograph. I want everyone to see what I see. I started photographing my friends in high school with a point and shoot and it evolved from there.
How long have you been a photographer?
Taking it seriously, about 5 years now.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in capturing your image?
Connection. Everything has to have a true genuine connection if you want it to make an impact.
How would you describe your style?
My style is constantly evolving as I evolve. I am a minimalist and I think that also translates into my images. I don’t like distractions, just get to the point! (laughs) My work is definitely more edgy than soft but its fun to play with both at the same time. Attitude, strength and sensuality. I am obsessed with natural light and you’ll find that 80% of my work is outside.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
I don’t think there is an answer to that. I can look at an image and depending on where I am at the time in my life, it may move mountains for me. Or not.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
There are SO MANY remarkable photographers out there, that it is impossible to list them all. Off the top of my head: Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Von Unwerth, Nan Goldin, Francesca Woodman, Elinor Carucci and Diane Arbus come to mind.
We know each of us has someone or something that inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
Beauty. Life. Life is beautiful and I don’t just mean in the physical sense. It could be anything from a burned down building to the waves in the ocean. Natural beauty. I am constantly looking at my surroundings and coming up with ways to show what I see. Most of the time when I point out random things to my friends they laugh with confusion. That’s my fuel, to show you what I see.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a constantly evolving fantasy. It is make believe. It’s art. It can be anything you want it to be, you just have to figure out how to sell it.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
One time, when I was living in NYC, I was shooting on the roof of a high-rise. When the shoot ended, we, (model and I) realized we locked ourselves out! Oh yeah, my phone died. So, we ended up climbing down the fire escape only to realize it ended short. So… What do you do? We knocked on a random neighbor’s window waking him up. He comes to the window really confused as to why there were two random girls in his balcony. We told him we got locked out and asked to get out through his apartment. I think we made his day. (laughs)
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
I don’t think I have one. I get obsessed with locations quickly but then get over them quickly. I am on the never-ending search.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
24-70mm, for now.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I use Photoshop as a tool to ENHANCE images. I am not a photoshop surgeon. I believe you should produce the best image IN CAMERA.
How important is a website and social media for your business?
In this day of age, it has become a very important/convenient vessel to showcase your work.
Do you listen to music while doing your shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?
OF COURSE. It depends on the mood. Whatever the look is, I use music to get the mood going. If I’m going for something darker, I’ll play something more downtempo or sexy. It just depends.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Do it! Do what you want. The amazing thing about art in general is that there is no wrong answer. It’s about self-exploration and expressing yourself. Everyone is different so just do what feels right for you. If you are making art from your soul, everything else will somehow fall into place. If its really the path you want, no matter how tough it gets, don’t give up. Eventually, everything will fall into place.
What lies ahead for you?
Dude, I have no idea but I’m ready for the ride