Featured Artist: Jaina Cipriano

Self-Portrait ©Jaina Cipriano

What kinds of reactions do your photos get? How do you feel about those reactions.

A friend who came to my last solo show told me she’d had a dream that mixed several elements from my photographs. Gut reactions like this are my favorite. I want to get in your head. I want to remind you of something you’ve forgotten.

One of the things that sparked my interest in your photography was the emotion portrayed in the models and how much energy and movement they have. How do you work with models to achieve those elements? How do you find models willing to get into that state of mind?

I’ve carved enough of a niche out that models who want to experience their emotions in front of a camera actively seek me out. This rawness and authenticity is achieved through my use of continuous lighting, music and the set design itself. I strive to make an environment so visceral that you want to lose yourself in it.

“Tell Me You Remember More Than I Do”
Model: Emma ©Jaina Cipriano

When you approach someone about modeling for one of your shots, how do you explain what you will be doing?

In the past I’ve gone so far as to write an immersive script for them to read before hand and get them in the headspace I recommend before we start shooting. This script is available to purchase on my website as a professionally printed zine.

Do you plan out the entire shot beforehand or do you see what happens in the moment?

I considered myself a documentary photographer for years before I began working in the studio. I took inspiration from Nan Goldin and followed my friend closely in and out of their darkness. I still work this way in the studio. Move through, experience the space and react to it. I’ll capture you.

“Take Your Time”
Model: Zen Crosby ©Jaina Cipriano

How did you start out as a photographer? Did you study art formally in any way?

I started out as a child stealing my parents polaroid film. I got my first (terrible) digital camera when I was 13 and I was hooked. In 2013 I began studying at The New England School of Photography where I fell in love with light.

“Something About You I Don’t Understand”

Models: Kimberly Cunningham, Grace Drinkwater
©Jaina Cipriano

I love the vivid colors in your work, they feel otherworldly, like all of your images are taken in a slightly altered version of reality. Is that a fair statement? Are you conscious of the colors in your work?

That is absolutely a fair statement. I am extremely conscious of the colors in my work, I spend most of my time thinking about color combinations and the emotions they elicit.

Do you edit the images in photoshop once you’ve taken them?


I know you build your own sets for some of the images, how do you conceptualize those sets and props? Where do the ideas come from? How long does it take you to build them?

The ideas stem generally from some place or time that has deeply affected me. I chose props by looking at their emotional symbolism. Sets vary in time but some take upwards of 40 hours, especially if I’m welding or working with lumber.

“We’ve Got To Hold On”
Models: Kimberly Cunningham, Sarah Bliss
©Jaina Cipriano

What project are you currently working on?

My newest project’s working title is “Finding Bright”. I haven’t found the proper words to describe it yet, but I want to build sets that are more daring, complex and seamless while pushing my ideas of my art and working with my models to get even stranger and more raw.

Is there a personal meaning to any or all of your photographs?

All of them, there’s no reason to create without.

What is the greatest achievement you’ve reached so far as an artist? What are you the most proud of, and what are your goals?

Finishing “The Garden”. A year’s worth of shooting edited down into 40 photos that got two solo gallery shows in less than a years time.

My goals are to work bigger and better, every day.

“Not so Tough Anymore, Huh?”
Model: Grace Drinkwater ©Jaina Cipriano

How do you pick out the best image in a set of similar ones? What are the things you are looking for?

I am looking for The Decisive Moment. I need emotion, movement, light and framing to all come together to tell a story that hints at movement before and after the photo. When work is coming from my core like this, my gut lights up when I see the right one– I just know.

What words would you use to describe your work?

Loaded. Visceral. Un-reality.

“Get Away From Me”
Model: Grace Drinkwater©Jaina Cipriano

Jaina can be found on instagram @jainasphotography. For more of her photography, including full series, check out her website jainaciprianophotography.com


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