If there’s one thing Santo Domingo-based photographer Alina Vargas-Afanasieva knows, it’s beauty. She’s photographed fashion, beauty and portraits for magazines all over the Dominican Republic and works closely with MAC Caribe. But what she shot for glossies didn’t always match the beauty of the women she saw walking the streets in her city. Trying to make her own work and celebrate the beauty of all women, the photographer gave ordinary women the movie-star treatment to create pinup photos in the style of the 1940s and 1950s, but with a distinctly Dominican twist.
What started out with private sessions in a studio, turned into a big project – “Pinup de Pura Cepa” – a calendar and, later, an exhibition this spring in New York. We got Vargas – humble, sweet, and more bohemian than bombshell in her everyday life – to come from behind the camera and share her vision with us.
How did the studio come about?
I’m an editorial photographer and I’ve done pin up-inspired shoots for several magazines. Since I’m also an independent editorial photographer I have to be on top of things all the time and think about my future. One day I did a 1940s-style photo session. I thought it would be a good idea to offer this experience of being a sensual woman to people in the Dominican Republic. Dominican women are very feminine and flirty – they enjoy their bodies and femininity. I imagined pinup girls, but more Caribbean. The pinup ideal is American with blond or brown hair.
In 2011 I opened my studio and I started getting attention right away since my studio is the only one offering this service in the Dominican Republic. I hoped for attention but it was a risk. I didn’t know if my idea would be accepted or not. At the end of 2012, I met with Christopher Rodriguez [of the arts event Dipsters] and Tony Peralta. They helped me develop my project and do something interesting other than just show something sensual.
Click to page 2 to read more and see Alina's work!