Meet Ines Donfack
Interview by Sasha Jones
Ines Donfack is a 17-year-old self-taught photographer and videographer. Located in Maryland, Donfack uses abstract and nostalgic themes to document her life, much of which surrounds the American high-school experience.
Q: You're young and self-taught. What inspired you to begin taking photos, and what motivates you to continue?
A: Quite frankly, I started photography for sort of “superficial” reasons. At first, I really just wanted to have a really nice and aesthetic Instagram, so I began taking pictures of things I thought would look good on my feed. As I followed other photographers, I was really impressed and envious of how clean their feeds looked, and just how creative their pictures were. I started trying to emulate their style. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to stick with portrait photography. I really fell in love with it. In retrospect, my pictures weren't the best, but the thrill of creating kept me going. I began asking my friends to model for me and I grew from there.
Q: Part of your style is to take abstract photos using everyday materials. In the past you've used Vaseline, aluminum foil and glass. What is your process for finding and using such materials?
A: In 2017, I began delving into more abstract pictures. My desire was to take pictures that stood out a bit, especially because I'm on a platform that’s already so saturated with a lot of the same kinds of photos. I wanted to give my pictures an extra edge. I began watching tutorials on youtube on how to add “everyday” objects to make pictures stand out. I found out about using CD players and aluminum foil to add reflections and blurs in the photos. I was inspired by Brandon Woelfel, a photographer who uses fairy lights to make his compositions stand out. I started finding whatever I thought would look cool in photos. Now I like to use, netting from fruit packages, broken shards of mirror, plastic wrap, vaseline and anything else I can find that adds texture or depth to a photo. Anything that can be placed on top of my lens, or on the edge of it to add a sense of uniqueness to the picture is up for grabs.
Q: In the past year, you've partly transitioned from photography to videography. What led to this transition? Do you believe photography and videography go hand-in-hand?
A: I wouldn't say there was a transition from photos to video, but rather a drastic improvement. I've always loved and appreciated film and cinematography. I just never really had the resources to pursue it. WIth photography, all I really needed was a camera and a phone. With videos, you need expensive editing software, special cameras, mics, ect. In the past, I would just make videos using the editing software Windows Movie Maker. It was very basic and elementary, making it hard for me to create more dynamic and complex videos. However, my sophomore year at school, I took a video production class and gained access to better equipment and software. This is really when I started taking videos more seriously. Photography and videography do go hand-in-hand. It's hard to delve into photography without also going into film or video work. However, I think I've come to love video ten times more than I do photography. It has a greater impact on the audience and can convey deeper messages.
Q: You've also joined Lithium Mag and Adolescent Content. What is it like to be a part of such collectives? How is it different from working on your own?
A: Working for Lithium and Adolescent has been such a pleasure. I honestly applied as a whim. I didn't think much of it, nor had I ever desired to work for anyone other than myself. However, I quickly realized how beneficial it is to be in a community of people pursuing the same interests. Lithium is amazing because there is just constant support and inspiration flowing from all the members. Everyone is around the same age, dealing with the same life struggles. It's really become a community, transcending beyond the confines of our actual creative work. It's become almost like a family. Adolescent is also cool in that they really believe in youth. I pitch ideas to them and if they like it they publish them, fund them and even compensate me, which is really cool. It's been helpful to get my name out there and just network more as a creative.
Q: Where do you want to go with your photography? Is this something you want to pursue professionally?
A: I feel like the industry is already so saturated with millions of people who are even more talented than I. It would be hard to make a solid living through photography alone. That being said, if given the chance, I would absolutely pursue photography and film as a career. I would love to work with different brands, shooting campaigns for them. It would be such a fun and creative challenge to produce a video or set of picture that convey whatever message a brand wants to convey in a totally unique way. I would also love, love, love someday to be a director for documentaries and films, although as I said, so would a lot of people. Nonetheless, I'm never going to give up what I do, and I'm sure that as I grow in it, more opportunities will come.
Q: What advice do you have for other young creatives, who may not have the resources to pursue art?
A: While I can't speak for all kinds of art, I know that photography isn't an outlet that requires a lot to get started. For the first 2 years of my photography endeavors, I didn’t even own a proper DSLR. I literally used my phone and a point-and-shoot. And ironically enough, now that I do have a dslr, I sometimes prefer to use my old point-and-shoot, because it allows me to focus more on good composition instead of having the camera do all the work for me. The point is, the strength of a good photographer is in their skill and ability, not their equipment. So young creatives, use whatever you have at your disposal. Think outside the box and try to create something new. You don't need resources. Use your phone camera, use a $10 used camera from Ebay. Honestly, what you think holds you back is actually what will cause you to grow. If you think your "sucky" camera is holding you back, I promise you, it’s actually forcing you to think more creatively to produce better photos. The same goes with videos. Like I said, I didn't have a good editing software before, but what I lacked in resources, I tried to make up for in ideas and creativity. So use whatever you have until you have the means to get better equipment. Just never let your lack hinder you from creating.
Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about you?
A: The only thing I want people to know is I'm always looking for people to shoot with, new models and even people to learn from or even just to connect! Never hesitate to contact me!