The Contrast Between Skin and Water w/ Denisse Ariana Pérez

June 1st, 2021 // Interviewer: Shane Allen // Photography


Artist //

Denisse Ariana Perez

Interviewer //

Shane Allen

Posted //

June 1st, 2021

Denisse Ariana Pérez is one of our favorite photographers. She has a knack for capturing the beauty in her subject's skin tone, No matter how dark or how light, no matter how unconventional or familiar you are with her subjects, she empowers the people that she photographers.

She recently published her new book AGUA that shows the results of her spiritual journey to find meaning in her work. Traveling far and wide to find peoples and places that have different relationships with water. Check out our interview with the photographer to see where her mind was at in the process of making it.

What were some of your first creative outlets as a kid?

I was very shy as a child, like extremely shy. I was a perfect nerd in school. My dad was a little bit confused by me because I was very mathematical, I've asked my teacher for extra math homework.

I have been painting since I was very little. But I never took a specific medium seriously until I pursued photography in my early twenties. Oh, I used to dance as a kid.

That was the first thing that allowed me to feel more confident within myself, not just through my brain, but through my body.

So when did you get your first camera?

I was around my second year of college. I want to say I was 20 or 21. I had held cameras before, but this was my own. I won this like a very budget camera at a raffle in college and it was the only thing I ever won in a raffle. It was this platinum blue Samsung camera. I would always come back to Europe in the summer. I was actually going to Barcelona for the first time and I spent weeks with this little camera. I just followed people around like creepy and observing. When I came back for my third semester of college, I enrolled in my first photography class.

I understood that I was very obsessed with people and observing people and the camera was a way of capturing that obsession.

So you just released your new book AGUA, could you give an explanation of the goal you wanted to achieve with the book and describe the visual language used?

I think the book started before I knew it was going to be a book, It was just a series. I feel like that's how most of my work comes out. There's something that I'm drawn to or curious about and I start to pursue it. Sometimes I keep on pursuing it more.

It started around a time about three years ago. I had a very strong spiritual experience, an awakening let's say.

In Ecuador, my aunt is a shamanic woman. She's a healer. So I think through her, I experienced this deepening into different parts of myself and into my Afro-Caribbean roots. My mother is white and my father is African/Caribbean. I was never raised with my aunt and this was a way to discover, a lot of different realms from my bloodline.

After that experience, I moved to Denmark right after. it just became very clear what happened. Two things: I understood that my work had to be more purposeful and second, I developed a deeper relationship to nature and to the way in which I wanted to capture people.

I started to pursue such projects. First, it started with photographing mainly men and water landscapes. At first I couldn't really grasp why, but my gut was just sending me to these places. I understood that.

I wanted to challenge the way in which men were portrayed, especially brown and black men.