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Anastasia Garcia

Anastasia Garcia

by Melissa Magsaysay

The Photographer Focused on the Beauty of Diversity

In the documentary Straight/Curve, photographer Anastasia Garcia talks about her vision for the future of fashion saying, “I have this desire to create this world where diversity is just something natural and not something we talk about.”

The New York-based photographer states this desire in such a clear and matter of fact way that one might think creating a more seamless culture around how we see and live as women an easy task. Though daunting and going against the grain of the traditional codes of the fashion industry, Garcia is one of the strongest voices and sharpest lenses in the business working to change the paradigm of how women are represented in both fashion and media.

She created the stunning photo exhibit at the center of Straight/Curve and works tirelessly to incorporate diversity of all types within her work. Here, she talks about how she started as a photographer and her hope that the current celebration around diversity is not something that fizzles but rather becomes so strong and permanent that it’s no longer an issue.

"It wasn’t until I entered the industry and was presented with an opportunity to speak up for plus size women that I realized my own responsibility as an image maker. From that point on I made the conscious choice to include plus size models into the work I was doing."
Plus Size Designer Fashion Powerful Profile: Anastasia Garcia
Model Precious Lee shot by Garcia for Galore Magazine
Plus Size Designer Fashion Powerful Profile: Anastasia Garcia
Chromat Summer 2018 Collection photographed by Garcia
Plus Size Designer Fashion Powerful Profile: Anastasia Garcia
Chromat Summer 2018 Collection photographed by Garcia

Q&A With Anastasia

Where are you from?/Where are you based now?

I’m currently based in New York City. I have no idea where I’m from, because I’m a military kid. So I never know how to answer that question. I’ve was moving every couple years since I was born, so I guess I’m from a little bit of everywhere.

Have you always loved fashion and photography?

Yes, I have always loved fashion and photography. But when I was younger I didn’t realize that working in fashion, or being a photographer was a job you could have. While most of friends were asking their parents for money for makeup, I was asking to get my disposable cameras developed, and making my friends come with me to the mall so I could photograph them trying on different outfits in the dressing rooms. I didn’t know then what I was doing… just that I really loved doing it. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, that I realize art college was an option, and that studying photography was something I could do.

What was your first big break in photography?

My first big break was getting hired by a large e-commerce company right out of art school. It was at that company that I was first exposed to the realities of fashion photography, working with real models, and shooting high end designers. It was there that I discovered my voice, and first used it to speak up for diverse body representation.

Have you always shot a more diverse group of women?

No, I haven’t. But I did start very early on in my career. When I was a photography student, I always wanted to be a fashion, and celebrity photographer like Annie Leibovitz. I realized that fashion models “looked a certain way” (read: super tall, and super thin), and if I wanted to be successful I had to shoot THAT woman. I didn’t care that I wasn’t that women… I just wanted to be a fashion photographer. It wasn’t until I entered the industry and was presented with an opportunity to speak up for plus size women that I realized my own responsibility as an image maker. From that point on I made the conscious choice to include plus size models into the work I was doing.

Growing up, assuming you were already into fashion/photography, did you see yourself reflected in the media?

I never saw myself reflected in media, and I was always very aware of that. I grew up hating my body. I thought I was flawed, because I didn’t look like the women in magazines, or on tv. I use to idolize women like Queen Latifah, and Missy Elliot because they were the only curvier women…and they were cool, confident, and sexy. They really inspired me.

Do you feel like fashion and media have made strides to be more inclusive and diverse?

I think we’ve made some strides, absolutely. But I think we still have a lot more work to do. I worry the advances that have been made will fade, and become reminiscent of “a time when diversity was cool”. Representation is not a trendy concept, or a buzzword. It’s our reality, and we need to depict our (our being 67% of women in the US) reality in media.

What more could we be doing to make real and lasting change?

In order to create more lasting change more brands need to expand their sizes to fit a larger range of women. I think the fashion industry needs to push harder on making sure a range of bodies (and races) are represented on the runway, in magazines, and in campaigns. Plus size women also need to be allowed to tell their stories on film, and television. No more film narratives about the sad fat best friend, or the fat girl who loses weight and suddenly becomes beautiful.

What inspires you creatively?

I find inspiration from a-lot of different places. But I am most inspired by the women around me, and the women I photograph. Who they are, their history, their unique personality, and what story they hope to tell. I’m lucky to be surrounded by such diverse, and empowering beauty.

What do you want to shoot more of that you are not already?

I’d love to shoot more high end editorial for Magazines like Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. I’m praying they get to the point where plus models aren’t featured in one off group editorials, and some day get their own several page spreads.

Do you have a favorite project/shoot or collab that is thus far a career highlight?

All of my shoots are special to me in their own way. It’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. I can’t! That being said, recently I shot a swimwear campaign for Chromat, and its was very memorable. We had a beautiful, diverse cast of models, and spent the whole day shooting at a pool. Becca McCharen Tran (CEO and designer of Chromat), and I have the same ideals about empowering women— which always makes for an inspiring day on set. I’m so grateful for her, and the work she and the Chromat team are doing. The images are very special to me, and I’ll never forget working on that project.

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