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Interview: Photographer Ylva Erevall

Ylva came to New York from Borås, Sweden, in 2003 and eventually made her way to "Fashion Institute of Technology" where she graduated with the highest distinction, from a 2 year photography program. The competition in the photography industry in New York proved to be fierce, so when she was offered gig as Uma Thurman’s personal assistant, she said yes. Although it was tough to get enough sleep between her photography and working as a personal assistant it actually helped her to become a better producer for her own photoshoots.

Today she is shooting for clients such as Penguin Random House, Disney, Flixel, Harper’s Bazaar, Redbook, Americas Next Top Model, New York Fashion Week, Schwarzkopf and TRESemmé,

What made you want to be a photographer?

I have always been very creative, and I used to paint a lot. I actually only came to NY for a couple of months to visit a Swedish friend before I was supposed to move to Barcelona to work for H&M as a window displayer. We came to talk about how I loved National Geographic and she convinced me to stay here and give photography a try. So it was in a bit of a whim.

What inspires you?

Meeting and talking to interesting people, art, other artists, movies, books, traveling amongst other things.

I recently got invited by someone I just met to go on a last minute 10 day trip to Senegal and The Gambia. We have since become very good friends and together we started a charity project to raise money to fund a sustainable school in Lamin Koto, a village with no access to education, electricity or water. I will be taking several portraits that will be featured as part of a Coffee Table book we are working on in our efforts to raise funds, support, and awareness for an Education Prototype we are currently developing. I was really touched by the African people I met on this trip and am excited to get started on this to help other people enhance their knowledge.

You are known for your stylish studio portraits with elaborate outfits. How do you come up with the

concept for those portraits?

I do research online finding designs and designers I like. I start out with an idea, but I am big into team efforts and like to collaborate and expand my ideas with the other creatives I work with.

Do you have a “go to”-set up in the studio, that you use a lot, that gives you flexibility when shooting?

I have been called the beauty dish queen on several occasions. I do love shooting with a beauty dish as key light, but I also like to try different lighting set ups. It all depends on what the concept is and how many people I have in front of my lens. I prefer dramatic lighting.

You also incorporate cinemagraphs in you work. Can you tell me how that came about?

About 6 years ago I spent a month in LA. I rented an airbnb and my last night overlapped with two Canadian guys who rented the second bedroom. They were the founders of the FLIXEL cinemagraph app, and were in town to have meetings with Tyra Banks in the hope of bringing their FLIXEL cinemagraph concept to Americas Next Top Model. I had shot for the show a few years earlier, we started talking and the rest is history.

What’s your advice to your younger self?

Oy, I might have to think about that. Probably to have taken it a bit easier playing basketball growing up so I wouldn’t have injured my knee. I kept playing despite my knee was hurting and it led to it being busted. I am now limited in playing sports and doing adventure trips.

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