Ariel the photographer on pursuing art and living in the Capital Region

Ariel is a photographer and artist in the Albany/Troy area. She can be found snapping pictures at fun, local events. I recently came across her Instagram when a friend told me about her work and I was immediately drawn to all of the life and vibrancy she brings out in her photos. I have this feeling like I know the people she photographs, or at least I feel like I can get a good sense of their personalities.

She and I corresponded over email over the last week and she let me get to know her a little bit.

EG: Hi Ariel! Word around the upstate New York block is that you “take great photos” and “make other cool punk art.” Please tell me all about that.

AE: Did Ethan Shantie tell you that? I’m flattered because he’s known me for almost 10 years now which is wild to think about. I’m a photographer but I also work for a fashion designer where I do a little bit of everything. I’m very passionate about DIY life so that’s probably where the punk description comes from.

EG: How long have you been doin’ this stuff? How’d you get started?

AE: This will probably be my longest answer so get ready. I was always a creative kid growing up but I was never really encouraged to pursue it further let alone as a potential career. I was told in high school that you had to be REALLY GOOD to be an artist and going to school for it was a waste of time. I, unfortunately, went through some very messed up things in my teen years which as a result of PTSD has left me unable to remember a lot of things from my teen years. Photography and making collages from fashion magazines were how I used to cope with feeling alone and would also help aid me in remembering the good things that happened instead of fixating on the sad things. So I ended up going to college where I got a very generic degree. Job hopped for several years and after I found my degree wasn’t helping as much as I’d hoped I took a chance and now I have a career in the arts. Whoops!

EG: What kind of settings are you drawn to photograph? I love how everything you shoot is just absolutely teeming with vibrancy and color and life.

AE: People and events with big energy! Events and people that people don’t know about yet. It’s actually really hard for me to photograph bands I think are boring. My ultimate goal when I photograph events is to make people wish they had shown up.

EG: If you had to take photos of the same event every day/night for the rest of your life à la Groundhog Day (or Russian Doll — if you haven’t seen that show already, and I know we don’t know each other very well, but you’ve got to watch it, it’s so good), what event would you pick?

AE: I haven’t seen that show yet but I think you’re probably the 5th person to tell me to watch it. Currently binge-watching True Detective while I write out these answers! I think honestly I’d probably pick a big rave or costumed dance party because anytime I photograph events like that I never get the chance to photograph everything I wanted

EG: How did you come up with the name Super Vintage Party?

AE: I guess it’s a reflection for my love of all things weird and over the top. It was something that always sounded right to me so I’ve stuck with it despite some people telling me it makes no sense. I think that only encouraged me to keep it even more.

EG: What other kinds of creative work do you do? I’m loving this sneak peek of colorful polka dots, by the way.

AE: Well most people know me for my photos but I sew and customize a lot of my own clothes (see punk art from earlier haha). Mostly self-taught but it’s another big thing of mine that I love to do but I usually don’t have as much time for these days as I would like. Hopefully, I can make more time for it this year.

EG: How long have you been in the Albany area? How do you like it? I moved here with my husband about a year ago and I f-ing LOVE it.

AE: So glad to hear you love it! I’m actually a townie! My parents are from NYC (I think that’s why I get mistaken for a New Yorker often) I spent my early childhood in South Colonie my preteen/teen years in Clifton Park went to college in Potsdam, NY. I thought I’d eventually move out somewhere new but right now I have an amazing full-time job working for a fashion designer in downtown Troy.

EG: Fav Albany-area festival/fest/annual get-together? (Larkfest, Tulip Festival, Pearl Palooza, something more low-key, etc.)

AE: This is more of a Troy event but people from all over come out for it but I absolutely love going to Polly, a quarterly dance party held to benefit local social justice and art causes. Its also meant to provide a chill party space for LGBTQ and POC individuals.

EG: Do you find there are a lot of creative types in the area for you to collaborate with and do fun creative stuff together?

AE: Definitely. I find the more variety of people I get to work with the more I love what I get to do. That said I’m always searching for the next cool person or event to photograph.

Photo by Shannon Straney

EG: Switching gears, what are the last three songs you listened to (by choice, not like at the mall or something)?

AE: Straight from my car:

  • Gut feeling/Slap your mammy – Devo
  • I’m so Green – Can
  • Deceptacon – Le Tigre

EG: What was it like meeting Maria Bamford?!? She’s such an inspiration and one of my favorite people in the world and I’m totally not jealous or anything.

AE: Honestly probably the most starstruck I’ve ever been which there was no reason because she’s a very normal person. But there was so much I wanted to say to her because I’m bipolar myself and she’s helped me be brave in so many situations. I have her beautiful tea towel portrait framed by my front door.

EG: Do you have any upcoming projects you can talk about? What are your creative plans for the foreseeable future?

AE: VIDEO. It’s going to be rough but hopefully I can figure it out. Also hopefully a nice photo zine and t-shirts of my signature smiley everyone has been asking for.

You can check out more of Ariel’s work on her Instagram, Facebook, and her website.

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