Magdalene Ayuk
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Women Making History: Aviva Klein

Women Making History: Aviva Klein

Women Making History: Aviva Klein

A picture can say a million words, and with Aviva Klein’s work, the lucky viewer is privy to a beautiful story from start to finish. Aviva Klein, a self-taught artist who grew up in Brooklyn, was heavily influenced by hip hop and fashion – two elements which are ever-present in her photographs. Her latest project, Bandana Culture, documents people from different walks of life, all tied together by their wearing and love of the Bandana.

A bit more on Aviva Klein…

Aviva's survey

M.I.S.S. :   What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

My best friends are incredibly inspirational in my life. They all love hard and are strong women with clear voices.

M.I.S.S.:    How did you get your start as a photographer?

When I was 19 I moved to California to crash in a dorm with my first boyfriend and his roommate. He was kind of into photography and I played around with his camera. When we  broke up he wanted the camera back and I refused to return it,which isn’t like me. My first body of work was made with his camera.


Different people, different stories told

M.I.S.S.:  What’s your favorite image that you’ve created?

The image I took of Lauryn Hill last year at Rock the Bells.  I’ve always thought her words and voice had a divine quality to them, and in this image she  looks like an angel.

M.I.S.S.: Who would you like to photograph in the near future?

In music: Kanye and Jay Z, have one-on-one time with Lauryn Hill, Lykke Li, Frank Ocean, … a lot of people. Music is a huge part of my life but I want to photograph nearly anyone that will let me take their portrait. I enjoy photographing musicians but those are not the only stories I want to tell. My work is more about the human experience and I hope people see that.

M.I.S.S.: What part of taking pictures/telling a story through images is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?

Aviva Klein photography

Hmm….the most challenging part is dealing with selfconscious people. They feel awkward in front of the camera and I basically photograph people’s energy and when then feel that way it shows. So I do my best to always make people feel comfortable around me and help them work through it… and they forget they’re being photographed. That’s when you get the most honest images.

The part I dislike the most is when I don’t have the right equipment with me when I see someone I want to photograph.  The story is there, the emotion is there… and I’m not prepared.

M.I.S.S.: How did your project “Bandana Culture” come to fruition? What inspired it?

I was talking with my coworkers at Parsons about something… and it lead to bandanas… and how the styles in which you can wear them are endless and how people from all walks of life wear them and it means something different to each person. That was so profound to me.


M.I.S.S.:  How do you establish a connection with your photography subjects?

Hmmm.. I’m not really sure. I just spend time getting to know them and shoot them in between.

M.I.S.S.: How did you muster the courage to put aside your marketing job to delve wholeheartedly into photography?

I’m not sure about that either. I just really got to a point where I was working too hard for someone else’s art.  The long hours and pressure was not for me. I’m not emotionally built to deal with other people’s stress on the level that the music industry forces you to deal with.  I had no time to study the craft since I worked from 10-10. At a point I just said, you know what… I don’t ever want to wonder what if… so I quit and moved to Puerto Rico where I forced myself to shoot and learn about light.

M.I.S.S.:  Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path similar to yours?

Just keep making work., you will get better and better with time. Don’t take rejection personally. Be patient.


For more information on Aviva Klein and to view her latest projects visit the Bandana Culture website.

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