Last week, the photographer Renell Medrano's pictures of Kylie Jenner's birthday vacation to Turks and Caicos took the Internet by storm. Now, she's back in her native New York City and ready to get back to the real grind. The 24-year old Parsons graduate is quickly making a name for herself, shooting fashion editorials for publications like Elle Indonesia, capturing ASAP Ferg for his new album cover, and working on more intimate, personal projects, like "Untitled Youth," a series depicting girls growing up in the Bronx just like she did. Before graduating, Medrano was awarded the New York Times Lens blog award. Here's how she plans on moving forward with her budding career.
When did you first get into photography? Have you always done digital/film/both? Or do you prefer one?My parents bought me my first DSLR camera when I was 15. I was always fascinated with the point-and-shoot cameras my mother had around the house. So I started with digital, but got into film my freshman year of college. From there, I loved being able to shoot film and switch to digital whenever. If I could shoot film and only film I would; there's something magical about it and it always seems to make me fall in love with photo all over again.
Who are some photographers you admire? Work that inspires you?Harley Weir, Venetia Scott, Charlotte Wales, Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon. A lot of what moves and inspires me comes from choice of color in a photograph. Color plays a big role for me because that sets the mood.
What's a project you've worked on recently that you're proud of?I recently shot ASAP Ferg's new album cover and it was fun working with him. He's so passionate about anything he does.
Can you explain your “Untitled Youth” project?I shot these four teenage girls who were best friends. They resided in the Bronx. I was infatuated with them because a piece of them reminded me of myself. I was raised in the Bronx, but never got the freedom to experience it the right way, so I pretty much lived vicariously through the girls. I was attached to them for two years documenting their lives: hanging out, parties, intimate moments, etc. I was going for a raw feel for this project. I wanted the audience to feel as if they were there with them, too.
Is there a certain subject matter that you gravitate towards? Are you interested in fashion photography?I find beauty in strange things. And of course I'm interested in fashion photography. I've always loved fashion photography because of wardrobe and being able to create a story in a beautiful way.
How long have you known the Jenner sisters? And what do you love about photographing them?Going on two years. I met them through my friend Justine Skye. They're sweet girls; what is there not to love about photographing them? They're beautiful. And not only that, their personality also makes them who they are.
Dream job:To have solo shows worldwide.
How do you use Instagram as an outlet for photography?We want everything fast. We want to be able to sum up a person by just scrolling through their Instagram, and it sucks. But it's the world we live in. I try to use my Instagram as a portfolio. Everything works through a tag, and to me I like to look at my Instagram as a big mood board. Without the Internet there would be no outlet. I started by posting my everyday visuals on Tumblr, which always got around. And then Instagram came along and it became easier for me.
The last photo you took and why:While on vacation, I was at a tennis court with the girls and fell in love with the colors of the fluorescent lights filling up the court along with the shadows of the palm trees. I've always been a fan of natural lighting, or using street lights to light my subjects.
The last photo you deleted and why:I don't ever delete any photos I take. I consider myself a photo hoarder, LOL.
How would you describe your work? What makes your vision unique? I like to take my time with anything I photograph. If it's not right, I'll come back to it. My goal is to always evoke some type of emotion. I want it to always stick with the viewer.
Photographs you have hanging on your wall:A photograph I took of ASAP Ferg's blue do-rag against a bright red backdrop. It's my favorite photo right now.
Photographs that always make you feel something emotional:Jim Goldberg's "Raised by Wolves," is such a great body of work.
Watch W's most popular videos here: