An Afternoon with Lina Seijo
Lina Seijo is such a bright star. She is a Lancaster-based photographer who has truly invested in the diversity of the city through street-style shoots and spotlights on other city dwellers. Her work has always inspired me and we have had a wonderful working relationship this past year so I decided to reach out for an interview after our most recent shoot. Here follows the images from that day (so effortlessly capturing Donavan and Gabby's energy as well as mine) and the questions and answers to accompany. Find Lina Seijo on Instagram @seijo_photography and @linaseijo.
1. Tell me a little about your life story, how did you find yourself here (Lancaster)?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I moved to Pennsylvania in 2008 and I was 19 at the time. I attended a few colleges studying Graphic Design, Photography, & Radio/TV. When I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia, I met a really good friend who was from Lancaster. I stayed for the weekend at her home in the West End Area. I immediately fell in love with the small city. I wouldn’t say I dropped out of college but my heart couldn’t let go of the city, so I returned to my hometown. At that time, I was doing event photography for local/residential DJ’s in the LES & Brooklyn, mainly the Williamsburg area. Financially, it wasn’t working out for me and I had no choice but to come back to PA. A couple years after, I lived in Minnesota with my boyfriend at the time & husband now. He got accepted to a 3 year MFA Creative Writing program and when he completed his MFA, we were trying to decide what will be next for us. We definitely wanted to go back East. Thanks to a couple of friends from Lancaster who were in the same program he was attending, they convinced us to move here and now I’m here.
2. How has this career changed your life?
I’m actually still trying to make this a career and I’m not even sure what it is but I love & enjoy doing it. A hobby, I guess. I’ve always wanted to collaborate what I love doing with music and fashion one day. To take pictures for a brand or go on tour with a band or a musician. I love both and it would be spectacular to shoot those two for a living.
3. If you weren’t doing photography, what would you do?
If I wasn’t a photographer, I would so be a DJ or a Music Director for films.
4. How do you connect with the subjects of your photography (what makes the images work)?
The way I connect with my subject is by building a relationship with them and trying to make them feel as much as comfortable as possible, I love to be playful and joke around. I notice they become more open, loose, and I feel it breaks the ice. I also like to show them what I have taken so far just so that they can get comfort in how they look.
5. Three most important parts of a shoot (what can’t go wrong)?
Three most important parts of a shoot: Make sure your camera is fully charged (you don’t want a low/dead battery), have variety in your images- try to always think out of the box, and of course the lighting!
6. What inspires you most?
I get most of my inspiration from traveling, music, fashion, and film.
7. Who are your icons?
My icons: Elliot Erwitt, Sofia Coppola, Juergen Teller, Autumn De Wilde, Wes Anderson, Oscar De La Renta, and Quentin Tarantino.
8. Design a dinner party of your dreams (where do you go, who is there, what are you eating and drinking)?
For some reason, this was a tough question for me! The dinner party of my dreams… I envision a beach house somewhere in Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, St. Barthélemy, or California. The dining room would be surrounded by a bunch of plants and greens. A scene of colorful, silk curtains would be draped throughout the room following a canopy in the middle of the dining room with Turkish chandeliers hanging in different elevations on the ceiling.The dining room would transcend a Greek-style veranda that is surrounded by a garden and beautiful beach view can be seen ahead. Kind of like a Great Gatsby feel. The food would be served in ceramic Moroccan plates, expensive wine would be sipped, and Bossa Nova will be playing. (Madi note: oh my god, y'all, who else is fiending for an invite!!)
9. Favorite restaurant in lancaster?
I have a few favorite restaurants in Lancaster. Himalayan Grill, El Pueblito, and Oka Fusion Bar.
10. What is your response to the claims of “Lancaster is the new Brooklyn”?
“Lancaster is the new Brooklyn” - I feel that it’s cool and scary. It’s cool being that Lancaster seems like another neighborhood you would walk by in Brooklyn. It has that Boerum Hill, Carroll Garden, Brooklyn Heights vibe with the diversity of people & restaurants, the few Bodega’s we have. The scary part is that I saw & experienced gentrification slowly when I lived in Brooklyn. I lived in Sunset Park and I started seeing condos after condos getting built and next thing you know, the rent was going up and so was the transportation. It was happening big in Williamsburg & Bushwick (areas that were once affordable for low income residents to get by). This is the main reason why my parents moved out. I tried to live there on my own in 2010. I was living in Red Hook and I said to myself, if Williamsburg & Bushwick changed, in 5-10 years Red Hook will too and look at it now. People and friends I knew were worried about getting by there and I hear the same comments here. So, I have mixed feelings about it.
Thank you, Lina for being such an inspiration in Lancaster and beyond! Keep creating; we will be here to support you!!