Photography/Inspiration In the Pink

Step inside photographer Diane Villadsen’s candy-colored world

Photography/Inspiration In the Pink

Step inside photographer Diane Villadsen’s candy-colored world

Even when skies are gray, Diane Villadsen sees the world in cotton-candy pink and lemon yellow.

The photographer, a fourth-generation Californian, has shot colorful campaigns for Bose, Zappos, and the French perfumier, Atelier. Her bright, playful work seems designed to stand out on Instagram’s infinite scroll. But it wasn’t social media that inspired her color palette, she insists. It started on Google Street View.

“I had driven past a pink house in San Francisco,” she recalls. “Then I used Google Street View to find other colorful houses nearby. I found a blue house, a yellow house, a raspberry and even a watermelon colored house.” The homes became the backdrop for a pastel-infused fashion editorial. And when Villadsen saw the images on her camera, it changed her entire thought process. “It was like, Oh, this is what I want to be doing,” she says.

Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen

“In the advertising and commercial world, people want that boldness….that punchiness.”  

 

It was 2017, and Villadsen had just quit her marketing job at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism to become a full-time photographer. “I actually studied linguistics,” she recalls, “which clearly has nothing to do with photography. But it was during college that I started taking photos of people.”

After appealing on Craigslist for free models, she spent three months building a portfolio. Villadsen’s clean, colorful aesthetic soon attracted brands hoping to make their products pop online. “In the advertising and commercial world, people want that boldness….that punchiness,” she says.

Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen

In her Adobe tutorial “How to Make a Retouched Background in Adobe Photoshop,” Villadsen reveals how she cuts out a model, cleans up the background, and minimizes shadows and wrinkles on a colorful paper backdrop. She describes the resulting look as “seamless and professional.”

“I use Lightroom for the color grading and Photoshop for any intense pixel moving,” she explains. “I always start out with raw files in Lightroom. And I do my color toning there. I like being able to copy and paste the settings between photos. And I make my own presets called ‘Pop! Candy.’ I find myself going into Photoshop for almost every shoot now just because I think my standard for cleanliness keeps getting higher and higher.”

Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen

In this self portrait, Villadsen's colorful parakeet, Sue, makes an appearance.

 

“I’m a huge fan of minimalism,” says Villadsen. “I almost think of my work as a manifestation of graphic design. I’m not a graphic designer, but I think in the same way as a graphic designer.” 

Step inside photographer Diane Villadsen’s candy-colored world
Photographer Diane Villadsen

“I’m a huge fan of minimalism,” she adds. “I almost think of my work as a manifestation of graphic design. I’m not a graphic designer, but I think in the same way as a graphic designer. There’s a lot going on, but it’s all arranged very cleanly.” In her pictures, watermelons are a motif. Skies are a perfect pastel blue.

For seven years, Villadsen has shot on a Canon 6D, and she recently added a Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens to her collection. “It’s not as important for me to have that really wide aperture, and I find myself shooting on a narrower and narrower aperture on every shoot. So recently, I just got a 24-105mm F4 lens, and I think that’s going to be my go-to lens,” she says.

“I’m already referring to my pastel period in the past tense. I’ve noticed myself leaning more towards saturated, really vibrant punchy colors.” 

Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen

“I’m already referring to my pastel period in the past tense,” she says. “I’ve noticed myself leaning more towards saturated, really vibrant punchy colors, whereas in the past, I would really desaturate everything.” She is passionate about teaching and longs to return to helping up-and-coming photographers find their own aesthetic when the COVID-219 crisis passes.

“Just shoot as much as you can, and as often as you can,” she tells her students. “Because the faster you get the bad shots out of your system, the faster the good ones will come.”

Photographer Diane Villadsen
Photographer Diane Villadsen

Follow Diane Villadsen on Instagram.

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