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Velvet Vagabonds by Bella Newman

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For September 2015 we are kicking off a new collaboration series where we will be introducing you to some of our favorite up and coming Photographers and Artists.  First up is the delightful 16 year old, Bella Newman, who conceived and shot the haunting images for our "Velvet Vagabonds" September lookbook, featuring the Velvet Skull Collection.  As followers and fans of TARINA TARANTINO know, we like to push boundaries and challenge convention, and this season is no different. For these very unique pieces, we wanted to change things up a bit, and have the collection shot in a more natural environment, modeled by non-professionals. But mostly Tarina wanted to see what someone else might dream up. When she saw the nostalgic and cinematic style of Bella's photos on instagram she invited her to style and shoot the collection.  The result is a collection of images that seem to effortlessly capture the dreamy mood and unique texture of the jewelry with a sense of neo-realism.  

Talent obviously runs in the family; Bella's Uncle is Film and Video Director Kyle Newman (Taylor Swift "Style", Barely Lethal), and her Aunt (in-law) is actress/model Jaime King (Heart of Dixie, The Pardon), who is married to Kyle.  Following is a Q&A with Bella and Tarina where she tells us about the things that inspire her (like poison ivy-infested apple orchards, trees and Pat Boone) or how she shot her first fashion shoots on her Nintendo DS. Take a moment to get to know this delightful young artist who we are sure you will be seeing more of in the future! 

Photographer Bella Newman

TARINA TARANTINO: First of all lets talk Geography, please tell us about where you are from and your current hometown;

Bella Newman: I was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania. I still live in the same place as I was born--it is a rather small town but I try to travel and go to the beach as often as possible. 

TT: Your photos have a depth and maturity rarely seen at such a young age, How long have you been taking photos? And what got you interested in photography?

BN: I’ve always liked all kinds of art but my interest in photography was really sporadic until a few years ago. I have been taking photos here and there forever, like stealing my Dad’s camera when I was really young or having fashion photo shoots on my Nintendo DS when I was a preteen, but I didn’t give it much thought until around seventh grade. 

TT: I know this is the most over asked question in the book, but we all love to know the artists creative process, so what are some of your influences and inspirations?

BN: I have a lot of inspirations. I like to analyze things, and I think that if you think hard enough about something you could be able to make a list of all the things that are beautiful about it. If I think about a leaf for long enough, I can come up with maybe five core things about it that inspire me. And those five things might be the way that it’s pliable to the wind, or that it adorns a great big organism and the way it adorns the plant is kind of like how we would wear a necklace, and it lives without senses but it is still aware of its existence in some ways, and it can die from the same things we can die from, but it can live without experiencing all of the things that we yearn for even though we’re in the same world. So basically, I think anything can influence you depending on how much attention you give it.

TT: Bella I don't think I will ever look at a leaf the same way again, that's a very profound and meaningful way to get inspired, so what was your inspiration or concept for this look book shoot? 

BN: While planning, I pulled some inspiration from photos of classic glamour and a little bit of vagabond, but it’s all mostly a jam session. 

TT: When I saw the photos I loved how your models all seem to have a secret, they are letting us look while they play and hang out in this strange dream world, but are not letting us in.  Who are your models? Why did you choose them for this project? Are they friends or family members?

BN: For models, I used my friends Corey and Jenn, who are sisters, and Shannon, my best friend since first grade. I chose them because I think there is something magical about them.

TT: The location has a touch of eerie, Where did the shoot take place? 

BN: I shot a lot of it in this poison ivy-infested apple orchard down the street from my house, and also on the grounds of an old monastery that I really like to lurk outside of. 

TT:  Your photos have such an evocative quality, do you mind sharing with us what kind of camera you used? Was it digital or film?

BN: For this shoot, I used my Nikon D800 which is a really awesome camera. I usually shoot film. 

TT: These photos make me think of one of my favorite songs by Bjork called "Hidden Place", I tend to put soundtracks to everything I am looking at or working on. If your photos for the Velvet Vagabond shoot had a soundtrack, what songs would you choose?

BN: It’s hard to pick songs that fit with every picture but here are some songs that I think fit different aspects of the shoot:

  • Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien by Édith Piaf
  • Be My Baby by the Ronettes
  • Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone
  • California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and Papas
  • Twilight Time (Spanish Version) by the Platters
  • Sun Medallion by King Tuff
  • Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction

TT:  In closing please tell us;  what's up next for Bella Newman? 

BN: I have some more collaborations coming up, but my main goal for myself lately is to push myself to take more pictures of strangers in public and start new photo series. Exploring.

VELVET VAGABONDS LOOKBOOK:

Follow Bella on Instagram:  @lafillebella and Tumblr: b-m-n.tumblr.com. 

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