MEET. Morgan DeLuna

© Morgan DeLuna

Meet San Diego based Photographer, and APA member, Morgan DeLuna.

What 3 words describe your photography style?

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I am crazy about pretty much every style of music, but it depends on the work. When I am photographing someone else, I let them put on whatever they’re into and allows them to feel at ease and confident. I shoot my self-portraits alone, so I select music that puts me in the right headspace for the image I am working on. I could be playing anything from Kitarō to Queen, Marvin Gaye, or Dom La Nena. Setting up the studio is usually something to get my energy up like Classic Rock or P-Funk, for shooting and editing, the selection shifts to the tone of work at hand.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by mystery, wonder, and transformation. I’m hyped anytime I get to perceive reality in a new and fascinating way. It could be environmental, like experiencing a new place, or intellectual, like learning about new ideas in science and history.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
The challenge of creating a visual that communicates feelings and ideas without words…I do also love that little flutter of excitement when you realize you got the shot.

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I like to keep busy. I enjoy reading history and non-fiction books. Before the pandemic, I would spend hours at the library picking out way too many books to bring home. I spend time outdoors and take drives to the desert to stargaze. I dabble in blending essential oils for skincare. Lately, I have been re-watching seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Schitt’s Creek, Bob’s Burgers, and various standup comedy specials because I love to laugh.

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
I begin every day with meditation and yoga. I am more creative in the later hours, so I use the mornings to tend to the business aspects of things. I take care of phone calls, meetings, emails, website updates, writing, submissions, social media, and so forth. In the afternoons, I’ll read, research, and sketch ideas. I also print and make natural light images at that time of day as the light in my studio is best then. I reserve the evenings for studio photography and editing. Pre-COVID, I would visit galleries and museums midday, and exhibition openings in the evenings. Now that things are virtual, I look at shows throughout the day.

Who were your biggest influencers?
My biggest influencers come from different aspects and times in my life. I was a theater kid and fortunate to work for years with a wonderful director, David Braddock, who studied under Marcel Marceau. From David, I learned how to use gesture and body language to convey an emotion or a story in silence. It takes patience, pacing, and thoughtfulness. I utilize everything he taught me when creating images today.
Annie Leibovitz is another one for me. Growing up, my Grandmother would pass along last month’s fashion magazines when the new ones arrived; I would pore over those pages for hours. Annie Leibovitz’s’ photos were my favorite. I loved her color palettes, compositions, and lighting. I think her single light work reminded me of stage lighting which, really appealed to me and became nicely saturated in my mind. Around this same time, I discovered makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. I became very interested in makeup illusion and fascinated by beauty culture. I would look at the portraits in Kevyn’s books, Making Faces and Face Forward, religiously. After 23 years, they are still on my bookshelf. Later on, I became influenced by Frida Kahlo, John Singer Sargent, Flor Garduño, Imogen Cunningham, and Harry Callahan.

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
I was struggling with a creative project when a friend and former teacher, France Marie-Haeger, gave me some guidance. She told me that sometimes there is nothing wrong with the idea, but with the medium. This advice freed me. I began exploring the concept and the aesthetic as a partnership rather than trying to jam an idea into a self-imposed mold. I allow the aesthetic to be fluid and work with the idea.

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was working at a gym to pay for art classes and supplies.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I am an artist to a fault, the medium or form would be different, but I would still be creating. Art is my language, my soul.

What do you do when you get stuck?
Stuck for me equals too in my head, passing judgment on my ideas instead of just trying them out. When that happens, I ask myself “Where is the fear?”, ” What is the thought that is stopping you?”, then I either journal, meditate or go for a walk to work it out.

To view more of Morgan’s work you can follow along here.