| Art |

37. Alfonso Vega

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In honor of our MasterMind genius awards, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys.

37. Alfonso Vega

Photographer and Massachusetts native Alfonso Vega moved to Miami four years ago. His highest-profile

photography has him capturing studio and on-location fashion for Ocean Drive, Level, and Bal Harbour magazines, but he also shoots ad campaigns and tests girls and guys for agencies. Working with so many models through the years, he has formed some surprising opinions. He has never met a model who wasn't intelligent and interesting, and he is not a subscriber to the "either you have it or you don't" theory.

"I think modeling is an acquired skill. Doing test shoots, I sometimes meet these young girls who just don't have it yet," Vega says. "Then I work with them four years later, toward the middle or the ends of their careers, and they know how to work their faces and their bodies. They become amazing."

Beyond fashion, his portfolio includes many stills of natural objects: barren tree tops, dead fish, antlers hanging on white walls. In fact, Vega majored in still photography at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. Despite the apparent polarity of images of lace-clad women with black leather saddles strapped to their svelte backs, and photographs of, say, deeply wrinkled tree bark, Vega says his approach to both is similar.

"I study fashion with the same fervor as I would study nature. I look at a fashion spread and notice the hemline of her skirt, what is special about her makeup. I spend time looking at the subjects and understanding what is just below the surface. But," the hiking, camping and skiing enthusiast stipulates, "when I want to get back to me ― the true me ― I photograph plants."

1. List five things that inspire you.

Photographers. Specifically Helmut Newton. I was probably 12 years old, sitting in a barbershop, about to get my hair cut. There was a magazine on the coffee table in front of me. On the cover was an Amazon of a woman -- beautiful. Inside was a profile on the famous photographer and some of his amazing work. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to be Helmut Newton. Things have changed a bit. I don't want to be Helmut Newton anymore, but he still inspires me. He was refreshingly bold. 

Environments. I've lived in a variety of amazing places, and now in vibrant Miami. Every place has a pulse. Tapping into that pulse brings life to my stories. And Miami brings the hot heat breeze, and at times sweaty nights.

Books. Writers can paint a scene in words that make that scene seem so real. It can bring your senses alive. You can find yourself smelling letters. Ultimately, you can be taken somewhere that feels so familiar, or long to become familiar with that place. It is a cerebral illusion. That is the type of photographer I strive to be. I strive for there to be more beyond the visual surface.

Movies. They're a lot like books in that they can take you somewhere that you are not. And of course movies come from books, short stories, or some collection of written words. But unlike in a book, your mind is no longer building the scenes. An artist is now taking those words and building the visuals for you. It allows for one to see how another artist interprets something.

Faces. This can read as cliché, and I do apologize for that. But faces do inspire me. I go back to that barbershop. The woman on that cover was beautiful from head to toe. And for a kid ... it wasn't her body, but her face that drew me in. It was the smiling eyes, the upturned nose, the strong jaw and the soft lips. Something just below the surface of her eyes that made her so beautiful. A great fashion layout always contains an amazing face. It's not always beautiful, but it should always be amazing.

2. What was your last big project?

An editorial melding men's fashion and sports. It contained elements of American football, wrestling, and boxing, and amazing men's fashions.

3. What is your next big project?

I'm always working on a variety of projects. And honestly, I consider them all big. But there are two in particular. I'm in the exploratory stages of doing a cross-country shoot that would profile real world fashion in America.
The other project is also in its exploratory stages and it's about fashion in inner cities. When you get past the glitz and the glam, the environment of the inner city lends to a particular look. That's what I'm searching for.

4. Why do you do what you do?

Because I love creating behind the lens. I love to tell a story. I do what I do because sometimes we have a chance to do things in life that are not centered on the mundane, with the hope that one day it may benefit someone else. I'm a dreamer. And I'm not sure I could handle being in the "real" world.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?

I want Miami to know that I'm here. And I love to create.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?

I don't want Miami to know that I'm addicted to spicy boiled peanuts.

The Creatives so far:

38. Natasha Lopez de Victoria
39. Aholsniffsglue

40. Heather Maloney
41. Jorge Rubiera
42. Elaine Lancaster
43. Nick Duckart
44. Danielle Estefan
45. John Dufresne

46. Monica Lopez de Victoria
47. Bill Bilowit
48. Alette Simmons-Jimenez
49. Tawnie Silva
50. Ginger Bardot
51. Jonathan David Kane
52. Naomi Fisher
53. Rocky Grimes

54. Teresa Barcelo
55. Paul Tei
56. Lee Materazzi


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