June 27, 2016

Spotlight: Myriah Acosta

Welcome to Myriah Acosta's world of glitter.

Some artists have the ability to transport you to another world. If Texas-based photographer Myriah Acosta had her own planet, it would be decked out in neon pink and purple hues, generously showered with glitter, and dipped in metallic eyeshadow. Like your local glam and glitzy dive bar, Acosta's work does not adhere to a less is more rule. Instead, more is definitely more; her images seem to reflect off of each other in a hypnotizing way. She takes advantage of every inch of the frame with vibrant colors and lighting.

Acosta is able achieve this ethereal quality in her photographs because she works more readily with film than digital. This allows her to produce images that appeared altered or edited when in fact they aren't. We spoke with her about her film process and technique, how she chooses her portrait subjects, and her dream shooting location.

The Le Sigh: You work with 35mm film more than digital and develop your own film. What do you like about film photography that isn't present with digital photography?

Myriah Acosta: I like being able to do double exposures with film, which is something I can’t achieve with digital unless I edit it. The results are rawer and you never really know how it’ll come out. Exposing one frame with a portrait and the second with glitter is one of my favorite techniques.

TLS: What does a day in the dark room look like for you?

MA: I’ve only worked and been inside a darkroom a couple of times. I don’t have enough space for my own darkroom in my current living situation, but I think about building one for myself in the future. To cut down on time and space, I use a developing tank at home. I invested in one after my local Walgreens and CVS’s stopped with their 1-hour developing services. I realized that developing film on my own had me a lot of money. The process itself takes less than 15 minutes, but after that’s done the negatives need to hang and air dry for a good hour or more. After that, I just scan my dry negatives onto my laptop with a special scanner.

TLS: I love the vibrant colors and presence of glitter in your photographs. Do you have any special techniques or creative rituals that help you achieve this style?

MA: I often get asked whether or not I edit my photos or warp the colors but I don’t. I work with a lot of inexpensive colored light bulbs and craft glitter. Sometimes I’ll be lucky enough to find neon lighting at public spaces that I’ll try to use to advantage.

TLS: It seems like a lot of your photographs are non-traditional portraits. Do you prefer to photograph people you know or strangers? How does your relationship with the subjects of your photographs impact the process?

The majority of the time I end up taking pictures of my friends and acquaintances, sometimes it’s planned and sometimes I just take pictures of whatever and whoever just so happens to be around me. Whenever my friends and I plan to do a photoshoot, it usually ends up being a mutual creative experience where both my models and I come up with a lot of great ideas for shots. I’m kind of on the shy side and rarely ask strangers to model for me, unless they approach me first.

TLS: As a photographer, I'm sure setting is an extremely important factor in your work. What is one place you've always wanted to travel for work?

MA: It has always been a dream of mine to travel to Japan. I don’t think I’ll ever get to go on my own unless work brings me there.

TLS: Whats next for you? Do you have any projects that are currently in the works?

I still plan on continuing to take photos now and within the near future, but my main focus is creating my first short film (hopefully by sometime next year) and more films after that. My main inspiration for filmmaking comes from my own experiences and memories. I want to be able to create films that people with similar experiences can relate to, especially experiences that revolve around gender identity, asexuality, and heartbreak.

Check out Myriah Acosta's work on her website.

Written by Diana Cirullo