Kristiina Wilson: WWWe Could Be Next

Amanda Mooney
On a lazy Saturday morning last week, I spent a few hours lost on art-sharing platform Behance.net, searching for fresh work to share on my Tumblr. In the process, I stumbled on Kristiina Wilson's fashion photography and immediately emailed her to tell her that I was completely blown away. Her ability to tell a compelling yet very specific story through her photos -- be it the story of a sun-drenched hippie, an effortlessly cool cat lady, or a dark, desperately moody fashion model -- makes her pieces instantly impressive. The New York-based fashion and beauty photographer who, as she writes, "likes cats, the library, and maybe you" was nice enough to share the story behind her work, her start in the industry, her favorite sites for inspiration online and a few links to her "super cool photographer friends."

How and why did you get into fashion photography?

My parents always told me that I should do fashion, ever since I started photography seriously in high school. But I was a typical teen and like a big dummy, I didn't listen. I spent many years doing fine art and other things until a friend pointed out a Guess? contest for a chance to shoot their campaign. I was intrigued and turned in a totally god awful, completely brand-ignorant entry and was CONVINCED that I would win, which of course I did not. But making the images made me realize how fashion was the perfect marriage of art and commerce, plus you got to work with your friends, and I was hooked!

How has your style evolved since your first project?

When I first started out I didn't really have a style. I just kind of aped what I thought fashion was supposed to look like. I think that's kind of what most people starting do, and why beginning projects tend to look so bland or overwrought. It took me awhile to figure out that I can make pictures about what I find in life that is funny, or scary, or sad, and those feelings are what I am always honing in on.

What was the last great thing you saw another photographer do?

There is such a glut of us photographers these days. I am really inspired every day by all the untagged imagery on ffffound.com. There is such an amazing collection of crazy stuff there. I wish people would credit the imagery, because it makes it hard for me to answer this question. I am also interested in what people are up to with moving imagery these days, but it really isn't for me personally, although I 100% respect it. My friends REED + RADER do this very, very well, and it is something I had never seen before they started doing it.

I loved your collaboration with Lola Dupré. What was the inspiration behind your collaboration?

I found Lola's work on NOTCOT, a website that I check every day for inspiration. I thought we'd make a good collaborative team, so I wrote to her and she seemed to feel the same way. I shot some images of my favorite model, Ilona Struzik, just hanging around my studio. The mood was very relaxed but a little creepy, just like all of our workings together. Then I made a bunch of prints and mailed them off to Lola. She chopped them up and sent them back and voila -- our project was born. We've done a few so far and have another one is in the works. It's going to be a beauty story this time. I love Lola. She is truly an amazing artist!

In addition to working with Dupré, you've worked with an incredible list of clients including Tokion, Dossier, Ugly Betty and ELLE... What have been some of your most memorable projects to-date?

I loved shooting backstage during fashion week for Dossier. It brought me back to my photojournalism roots. It was so fast-paced and it was a totally different way of shooting -- finding the shot in life instead of dreaming it up in my head in advance. It was super-tiring but a very good exercise and I loved the results. Working with Ugly Betty was also a lot of fun. Everyone involved in the production was so kind, and seeing my images on TV was a really nice for my family. And of course I loved the Tokion shoot because I got to work with all of my cats, who were all excellent models.

What designers or clients are you dying to work with?
I have wanted to work with Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie FOREVER. Pretty much half my wardrobe is from that company, and I love, love, love their catalogs.

When and how did you start sharing your work on the web? Are there any particular sites that are important to your work or to building the audience for your work?
I mostly use my blog. I use Flickr a bit when I remember to, and Facebook once stories are released. I've noticed that fashion blogs seem to pick my work up and spread it around as well, which is very helpful and I super appreciate it! I have to say that I am a bit of a luddite when it comes to having a ton of different websites and networking things.

What makes New York a particularly great place to work? What are some of your favorite spots in the city to find inspiration or shoot a project?
New York is great because it has gardens, huge parks, beaches, hard cityscapes, animals, crazy people -- everything! I rarely find reason to leave the city for shoots. One of my favorite spots to shoot is Brooklyn Marine Park, a huge expanse of reeds and water and birds and tall grasses, and still within the city. I love places that are are basically manmade structure overtaken by nature, and NYC and surrounding areas (especially Jersey City) are rife with those areas.

Leave us with some links to some of your favorite young photographers, designers and bloggers online.
 
These are blogs I check every day - some of this stuff is straight up crazy but that's cool: notcot.org, ffffound.com, seanorr.tumblr.com, videogum.com, ohwrd.com, todayandtomorrow.net, anothersomething.org, mariemaud.canalblog.com, aphotoeditor.com, creativeboysclub.com and janicza.com/bravo.

These are all of my super-cool photographer friends!
cargocollective.com/anoukmorgan, christopherbush.com, gl-wood.com, jonathanwaiter.com, kenpao.com, reedandrader.com, sarrafleur.com, glynisselinaarban.com, and markmgong.com

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