Sinziana Velicescu, Class of 2003 - Award-Winning Photographer Tells Stories of Place

Sinziana Velicescu, class of 2003, is a photographer based in Los Angeles, California. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Film. Her photography explores human intervention with nature in landscapes that have undergone political, social, or environmental change. Appropriating architectural vocabulary, Velicescu disrupts everyday topography via careful composition to develop an elegant and humorous narrative to tell the story of place. Velicescu's award winning series, “On The Periphery,” has been shown in galleries internationally and is now available as a hardcover book, published by Aint-Bad.

What kind of photography do you do? 

I do architectural and fine art photography. For my fine art work, I use a medium format film camera and photograph overlooked observations in the world around me. I also shoot architectural photography professionally. 

What inspired you to pursue this kind of photography?

I didn’t get into photography until I was 18 - I picked up my mom’s old film camera and started shooting around my neighborhood, out of a mix of boredom and curiosity. Over time, I developed my own style - I spent time learning about and revisiting some of the same areas and subject matter I was interested in photographing. My practice has become a therapeutic activity for me after all these years - exploring the nooks and crannies of the greater Los Angeles area - a vast and mysterious, endlessly evolving landscape. 

What is your latest project? 

"A Tree Grows In.." is an observation of plants and trees growing in unusual urban environments. Often, they are curious landscaping choices intended to beautify otherwise bland industrial or commercial spaces. At the intersection of the natural and man-made, the plants seem to find their own unique personalities against the constraints of the built environment, overgrowing and overtaking a space that was once defined for them - reminding us that nature cannot be controlled no matter how much we try to intervene. 

What is a photo or project that you're most proud of and why? 

On The Periphery - It’s a love letter to Los Angeles (the city I call home). The project captures moments within the city’s lifetime that are most often overlooked by its inhabitants. There’s a fantastical element to the project as it doesn’t entirely reflect the true reality of LA - it’s an alternate reality constructed through the lens of my camera.

What advice would you give to our students who want to pursue photography as a 

Pick up a film camera. Film pushes you to be selective about what you photograph from the beginning. Nowadays we are accustomed to trigger happy iPhones with their automatic enhancements and filters, we forget the value and magic of a single recorded image. The easiest way to understand and appreciate the mechanics of photography is by shooting a stripped down film camera where you can understand all the variables at play when taking a photograph. 

Also - and this is more universal - don’t give up when faced with challenges - you won’t be good at anything you do right from the start (in fact, not for a while) - learn how to hone your craft and be patient with yourself, and most importantly, accept constructive criticism.
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