When Stephen Frailey, chair of the School
of Visual Arts undergraduate photo
program, invited Elinor Carucci to teach in
2000, she was hesitant. The then 29-year-
old Israeli fine-art photographer, who
was living in New York, wasn’t sure her
English was good enough or that she could
properly guide students.
“He asked, ‘Can you be generous? If you
can be generous, you can teach,’” Carucci recalls.
Carucci has since brought her generosity and knowledge to SVA as a
faculty member and at other schools as a visiting lecturer.
Over time, her teaching role evolved, and she’s spent the past nine years
helping SVA graduate students develop their thesis projects, an influential
role Carucci finds to be meaningful and fulfilling. “It’s an almost magical,
wonderful process we go through together,” she says. “You can see the
beginning of future projects that they will pursue in their careers.”
This spring semester she is also co-teaching a new undergraduate
class at SVA with Yoav Friedländer that explores the challenges immigrant
photographers face working in the United States.
Carucci has evolved her approach to her weighty task. “Sometimes
being honest is the best gift you can give [students],” she says. “Sometimes
giving is helping and supporting and sometimes giving is telling students,
‘This is not your best work, and you’re not working hard enough.’”
The photographer says working with students helps her grow as both
a person and an artist. Likewise, producing fine-art and editorial work
outside the classroom makes her better inside it, Carucci says, affirming
the answer she gave Frailey years ago.
“I hope that if I continue to learn and be challenged, it will be reflected in
my teaching,” Carucci says. “My approach is, ‘This is me, take anything you
want. We have a limited amount of time together. Ask me anything, and I’m
going to tell you anything I know.’”
— Mindy Charski
To say that Girlgaze has taken off would be an
understatement. In under two years, the digital
media brand helmed by Amanda de Cadenet can
claim a book, an exhibition, a large social media
following and major partnerships to its name,
all with the intent to celebrate girls behind the
camera. Here, we chat with ArtCenter graduate
Daria Kobayashi Ritch, who has worked with the
team since its early days, most recently for a shoot
with Willow Smith.
PDNedu: How did you initially get involved
with Girlgaze, and what have you worked on
with the brand?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Girlgaze followed me on
Instagram and reposted some of my work when
they launched. I believe I reached out to them once
I realized Amanda was behind it (her daughter and
I, coincidentally, were classmates in high school).
They interviewed me for Teen Vogue’s Instagram,
which later led to me shooting for Teen Vogue’s
first issue created entirely by women. I signed on as
a Girlgaze Ambassador, collaborated with them on a Warby Parker project,
was included in their exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography
in Los Angeles, was featured in their book, #girlgaze: How Girls See the
World, and I photographed Willow Smith for their zine cover story.
PDNedu: What was the concept of the Willow Smith shoot?
DKR: During the concept phase, I was asked how I would portray Willow
Smith as the “ultimate Girlgaze girl.” For me, that means being strong,
intelligent, authentic, confident, magnetic and boundless—many traits
that Willow possesses. With that in mind, I wanted to keep it simple and
collaborative and let Willow’s energy shine. Throughout the shoot, the
ideas of one’s dichotomy were at play: internal vs. external power, strength
vs. vulnerability, femininity vs. masculinity. Another key part to this shoot
Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Photographer and Girlgaze Ambassador
COURTESY OF NICK RAPAZ
was that Willow was entirely styled by Beth Fenton
with pieces from prolific, accomplished female
PDNedu: What was it like working creatively
with an all-women team?
DKR: It isn’t uncommon for my creative team
to be all women, but I don’t consciously think
about the gender of my team. This experience
was empowering because I felt it was a very
collaborative and supportive atmosphere. For me,
it was less about working with only women and
more about working with a group of people who
were inspired, driven, smart and working toward
a common goal.
PDNedu: How does the Girlgaze message align
with your own photography?
DKR: I think a part of Girlgaze’s message is about
unapologetically being a girl. Our work cannot be
separated from who we are—and who we are
should shine in our work. I feel my work is strongest
when I can cast people who are unapologetically themselves. I strive to
find people who resonate with me and allow me to capture and show their
most intimate and authentic self.
PDNedu: As a fairly recent graduate yourself, what advice do you
have for young women entering the commercial/editorial field?
What do you attribute to your success?
DKR: Put yourself out there and go for things that stretch you out of your
comfort zone. Be persistent with your visions and beliefs! Getting turned
down is part of the job; the trick is to not let it discourage you, but instead,
let it inspire you to keep trying, or to try another course. Be strong and
driven while still being kind, genuine and understanding.
— Interview by Jacqui Palumbo
ABOVE: Willow Smith photographed for the
first online Girlgaze zine issue.