Behind the camera

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Behind the camera

With a camera at her side, Alexandra Menendez is always ready to capture moments big and small. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

With a camera at her side, Alexandra Menendez is always ready to capture moments big and small. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

With a camera at her side, Alexandra Menendez is always ready to capture moments big and small. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

With a camera at her side, Alexandra Menendez is always ready to capture moments big and small. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

Karina Quiran-Juarez

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Capturing moments big and small with a camera at her side is what Alexandra Menendez finds passion in. This passion has led her to pursue a career in photography and she doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon.

With the support of her family and boyfriend Kevin Perez, motivation to continue refining her skills in photography, with her unwavering dreams and dedication to become a professional photographer, Menendez is constantly motivated to follow her passion wherever it takes her.

“It began when I started making slide shows for my friends,”said Menendez who is studying at Cerritos College.

Currently studying under art history, she plans to major in photography when she goes on to continue her studies as a transfer student.

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Skeleton alongside a wall during sunset in Hollywood Forever. Set up for a Día de los Muertos event.
Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

Growing up, Menendez had always found a love and appreciation for art. When she was young, she made countless slideshows on her computer for friends and family.

However, she began to notice that what she really wanted to improve upon was the photography.

Ever since, she’s been driven to improve upon her craft, whether it’s by purchasing the latest cameras, taking pictures wherever she goes or by staying updated on her favorite photographer and inspiration, Annie Leibovitz.

Menendez takes every opportunity she can when she’s hanging out with her other family members, like her cousins, taking a vacation, or attending an event, to take photos.

Preferring to treat her photos like a set piece, she wants each single photo to tell some kind of story.

Additionally, with her adoration for film and cinematography, she’s found that whenever she has the opportunity to take photos, she prefers to focus on shots of people.

Movies that have distinct styles, such as Tim Burton films or ones set in specific eras such as

“Marie Antoinette” and “Pride and Prejudice” also inspire her. She always finds ways to incorporate them into her photography.

“Setting up a photo is like movie set. It’s a controlled setting and you can manipulate one moment of the truth,” Menendez said.

When asked about specific genres of film that inspire her photography she said, “If it’s usually appealing in terms of aesthetic, I love it. But, I do prefer the sets of dark horror films…”

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Trees in Madison Square Park, New York. Taken during Alexandra’s first trip with her older sister, to New York during winter. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

Slowly upgrading her cameras as the years went by, she reminisced on the first camera she ever bought.

“It was in sixth grade and I bought a pink point and shoot camera from Circuit City for about $60…I’d always loved being the photographer and remember always getting the disposable cameras,” she said.

From the point and shoot camera to numerous upgrades over the years such as the Kodak, Kodak 2.0, to the Coolpix Nikon at 15 years old, she continued to improve upon her photography with each new camera purchase.

With her family’s constant support of her passion for photography she said happily that at 16, during Christmas, “All of my family members pitched in for my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel T3…”

With an array of cameras in her collection (even ones that shoot in film), she’s found that as the years goes by she has preferred digital to film photography, and leans towards using Canon DSLRs.

“Because there’s a limited number of shots and it’s expensive, I’ve found that I need to be more selective with the photos I take in film,” Menendez said.

Though she’s used numerous cameras over the years, from DSLRs, point-and-shoot, and many more, she expanded on one camera in particular with a unique story behind it.

“It was a Rolleiflex camera. It has a lot of meaning to me since my dad gave it to me,” she recalled.

Her father found the camera at a yard sale around 2014 and knowing she loved photography he got it for her.

“Its funny how strong blood is,” she said. She’s known her father to be an artistic person, through his work as a pastry chef, and even heard through other relatives that cousins of hers are also pursuing art as a major, just like her.

In high school, she found that she was able to continue with her photography even more through a photojournalism class, offered on campus.

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Alexandra’s cousin, Monica Rufino, in Downey. Tossing rocks along Downey train tracks. Courtesy of Alexandra Menendez

It had always been a constant passion in her life and she knew at that moment that she wanted to pursue photography for a living.

Menendez said that she takes ample time to prep every shot she takes.

“It’s about setting up the scene first, then taking practice shots to get the right exposure. After that, I take as many as I can until my camera is full and take time to edit them after.”

When asked about her photography, Perez said,“We can often take 10-20 pictures in the same spot until she’s satisfied. But, I love that about her, she’s a perfectionist, focusing on every detail. Whether it’s finding the best angles or working around something in the background, she has so much love for her photography and I’m her number one supporter…”

Menendez states that her family has always been supportive of what she wants to do, especially her mother.

“My mom’s main goal for me was to go to school as long as I graduated college. She doesn’t care what I want to do, as long as I’m happy and I stick with it, ” Menendez said when asked what it was like growing up as an artistic person in her family.

Maria Menendez, Alexandra’s mother, said that ever since she was young, Alexandra would always be doing something on the computer that involved either making videos or editing photos.

“As Alexandra has grown I’ve seen her become more sure of herself in her photography. She knows what she’s doing,” Maria said.

Expanding on who her inspirations are for her photography Alexandra mentioned, “Because I’ve grown up surrounded by strong women (mom and older sister Roxanna), I’m constantly inspired by female directors and photographers.”

“Being extremely close with my older sister”, Alexandra continued to say, “she’s the one who showed me movies and has taken me to museums or exhibits…I even remember her always asking me to take her picture when she’s trying on a new outfit. I found my love for film (and their aesthetics) because of her…”

As for what is on the horizon for her future, Alexandra mentioned she would love to work for a magazine such as Vanity Fair or Vogue, perhaps even teach photography.

She stated when it comes to art, there’s more than one way to do things. With that said, Menendez knows for a fact that she will continue to pursue photography no matter what career path she chooses.

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