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Maria Alexandra Vettese is a Portland, Maine-based freelance art director who also works in the mediums of photography and design. She is a creative, collaborative thinker who arrives at her best ideas intuitively when she is completely in the moment or under the gun. MAV has a pure perspective and a commitment to noticing and capturing ordinary, understated moments. She collaborates on Lines & Shapes and More & Co. MAV lives in a flat that was built in 1891 with her sweetheart and two cats. See her work here and here. I am so excited to have MAV be a part of the Eyes Open e-course and to share some of her wonderful talent with us! Thank you MAV!

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1. How did you first fall in love with photography?
Well I can't say that I'm entirely "in love" with photography or have ever been. It's more like I'm in love with life and living it ... and I happen to take photographs. I like the little moments and when I see them and have my camera with me I like to capture them. But it's never as good as the real moment ... it's just a nice way to remember it. It's hard to explain why I like the little moments but there is something in them that moves me. I like to feel something and then when I do something in me sparks and there is a moment when I realize how special it is to be living life right now.

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2. Were you self taught or did you take a class?
I have a BA in Art (photography & graphic design). I studied black and white photography only and spent a lot of time working on not only concept but developing and printing as well.

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3. What photographers do you find inspiring?
My friends ...
Ryan Shimala
Stephanie Congdon Barnes
Brian Ferry
Jon Levitt
Laurie Frankel
Andrew Frederick
Jim Green

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4. How do you come up with new ideas and projects?
Everything comes to me very naturally. I might have an idea that has been in the back of my mind for a while and then it finally feels time to do it ... or it just pops into my head and I start the next day. I don't over-think things. I think that can be very bad for me. I just go for it! Go from the gut.

5. How does your artistry (graphic design, clothing design, and drawing/painting) connect with your photography?
Well it's all visual. It's all about the way things look and feel. I like SIMPLE. It's very hard to find these days. I like to experiment and not sweat the details. I think everything has a thread about being comfortable, lived in, real, true ... or at least I try to have that be the case!

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6. What do you shoot with? (cameras, lenses, film, etc.)
I have a few old cheap point & shoots. And then I have my Canon 5D Mark II. My main lens is Canon 24-70mm, f 2.8. Very nice lens and I love my Mark II.

7. When capturing everyday life, what do you look for?
Something that makes me pause and see the moment happen. Colors, shapes, textures. Something that makes me stop in my tracks.

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8. What has been the most challenging element in photography for you?
Translating what I do and how I do it to clients. Someone might see a photograph I take and like it ... want to create that same feeling. But then they have a big photo-shoot, lots of props, models, whatever and the whole thing looks staged. Then they wonder: why?! Well it's because it is indeed staged. You can't fool people nor should you. Fake life captured to look like real life doesn't work, in my humble opinion. It's hard when someone hires you to do your thing but they can't lock into how you want to do it. It's very rare to find that opportunity and sometimes it can be frustrating. But all said I always learn something with every client I work with so that's the very best part. Hopefully they learn something from me too ... that's true collaboration.

Thank you MAV for sharing your talent with us!