• About a Girl: Bianca Valle

    We visit photographer Bianca Valle and learn what she loves about living in NYC, her latest fashion impulses, and all about her current guilty pleasures.
    Photos by Libby Gray

    Hi Bianca! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
    I am a senior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts graduating a semester early this fall. I am also an Ad Photo Intern at Refinery29, something I feel truly lucky to be doing. Additionally, I do freelance photography, paint, and production design for editorial videos and short films. Lately, I've been asked to model for a number of brands that are trying to feature girls with untraditional looks.

    Tell us a little bit about your career journey – did you go to college? What was your first job?
    To live in New York was my goal for as long as I can remember. I'm from Coronado, California, a town of 23,000 people, so I was so ready to live in a big city and broaden my horizons. As soon as I arrived here, I knew it was time to hustle and make something for myself. I had to swallow the city whole before it swallowed me up.

    I scoured the internet for an internship and was hired by NYLON TV at NYLON Magazine. I'll never forget being on music video sets or photo shoots for artists like Rita Ora, Sunflower Bean, and Pia Mia. The NYLON staff were and still are my fairy godmothers. They have always believed in me, and trusted me with big jobs like covering the fall 2014 Alexander Wang show. I had an All Access pass and felt like the coolest kid ever. I was 18 and didn’t even flinch.

    My first summer in the city I had two internships and a job. I was a PR Intern for fashion designer Jill Stuart, worked retail at American Apparel, and was still an intern at NYLON TV. I worked seven days a week because I wanted to learn and expose myself to as much as possible. But there were nights when I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 6 pm.

    After NYLON, I became Milk Makeup’s (MMU) first intern. It was a dream internship; I did a lot of research, scouted for talent, sourced inspiration images, and came up with product names (I named the MMU highlighter "LIT"!). It was an incredible experience to be a part of the creation of a product from the ground up. I had a hand in molding the criteria for Milk Girls of the future! I am so grateful to still be considered a Milk Girl, and be invited back to collaborate, create, and celebrate with my MMU family.

    Then I went to Paris for my fall 2015 semester. It was the peak of my existence; the highlight of my life thus far. Living in Paris was something I'd dreamed about as a little girl. Walking countless miles about the city, with no direction at all, gave me the opportunity to learn things about myself that I probably wouldn’t know otherwise. The French lifestyle is so beautiful to me. I truly have left my heart in Paris even though I was there during the November terrorist attacks. NYLON published an article about my experience being on the same street as of one of the shootings that day. http://www.nylon.com/articles/firsthand-account-paris-attacks

    When I returned from Paris, Milk Makeup welcomed me back and I was assigned to the Social Media and Creative team. After this, I went to work at Refinery29.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your current job at Refinery29? It seems so cool! 
    Refinery29 is a melting pot of inspiration. I'm very fortunate to be an Ad Photo Intern and work alongside some very creative and energetic people. It's very rewarding to be given a lot of responsibility so quickly, too. I've shot photos that appeared in a few features on the R29 website, Instagram, and Snapchat. It's such a thrill to see my name credited with the images. The biggest assignment I've had was shooting a series as part of Lane Bryant’s “67% Project." I've been supporting a change in the way women and beauty are traditionally displayed in the media, so shooting this project was very special to me. I want to advocate body positivity for all women of every shape and size through photos I take, and in photos people take of me. 

    Any advice for young girls out there looking to break into the creative job field? 
    By the time I got to college, I had a full resume of relevant experience from high school. In my interview for my first college internship my future boss and mentor told me, "You've done so much already. At your age I was only partying, good for you." I didn’t party that much in high school. I worked creating opportunities for myself. 

    Creating art and displaying it has always been a part of who I am. I know putting yourself out there is daunting, but believe in what you want to do and go find the opportunities, both big and small. They're out there, but they won't simply come to you. I will always remember a quote from Into the Wild, “if you want something in life, reach out and grab it.” You have to go get what you want and not give up. 

    When did you first become interested in photography?   
    I was 11 years old and I asked for a DSLR for Christmas. I'd call my best friend and we would have hours and hours of photo sessions involving multiple wardrobe changes, hair styles, and makeup. I would take it so seriously! 

    Throughout my internships, working, and traveling, I’ve dedicated good portions of my time to advancing my photography. I am majoring in Film and TV at NYU, but felt the desire to branch out into a more independent craft which for me was taking photos. I am self taught and decided that in order to grow, I would have to produce shoots for myself. I would ask my friends to model and send them mood boards for the outfits they should bring. Then I would run around the city finding props or backdrops to use in my stories. All of my shoots at first were informal -- just for practice in my eyes -- but I decided to share them with my friends and created my website, biancavalle.com, to store and display my favorite shots. Then, I was invited to be part of a women’s collective art show by Femme Care, and had the chance to showcase a few of my photos. I received good feedback from the photos, so much so, that I was featured in i-D Magazine and Dazed this past April. Now, I am asked to take photos for people and brands, but I still do my own shoots just for me. 

    Do you have any favorite gear you like to use? 
    I swear by a Canon 5d with a 50 MM lens. 

    What's been fueling your creativity recently (inspiration, goals, etc.)? 
    I couldn't name one single source of inspiration, but I am lucky to be able to find my inspiration from within and from my experiences. Not only do I express myself through what I wear and image making, but I also paint. I have had the painting bug for as long as I can remember. I would lock myself in my room as a little girl and copy works of art from Degas and Lautrec (maybe because Instagram wasn’t a distraction yet). Now as a 21 year old, I look forward to staying in at night, making myself some lemon tea, listening to music and painting away the time. I would have to say though, my mother is one of my biggest living inspirations. She influences me to stay motivated and keep my eyes, ears, and mind open at all times. 

    How does fashion fit into your life? Is it something that's important to you? Why or why not? 
    Getting dressed is a little bit like creating a daily walking piece of art. This is important to me. We have a chance everyday to express our moods and state of mind with what we wear. I put my creativity into selecting my clothes because I think that the way I look on the outside is somewhat of a reflection of what and who I am on the inside. 

    How would you describe your own personal style? What's one of your favorite things to wear currently? 
    My style is forever evolving. Living in New York, there are people with great style on every corner that influence what I wear whether I know it or not. Expression through clothes has always been my way of feeling good about myself. Currently I love wearing my jewelry all the time. I even sleep in it. It's become part of me. I couldn’t tell you how or why I dress the way I do, but I love my style. 

    What trend are you loving right now (whether popular or unpopular)? 
    Right now, everyone is into eating healthy things and so am I! I think it’s the most productive and beneficial trend out there. For me, there is nothing better than grabbing a juice with a friend or getting an amazing salad somewhere. I think healthy food is very accessible in this city. It is such a luxury! There are healthy food options on every corner, maybe sometimes not the cheapest, but I believe in investing in your health. I am also very happy that the majority of my friends have hopped on the health wave, and we all show each other new exercise places or a new delicious restaurant. 

    Finally, what are some of your goals for the end of 2016? Anything you're looking forward to in 2017? 
    2016 is a very special year for me. Besides my internship at Refinery29 and the launch of Milk Makeup, this summer I also painted my first full collection, 23 pieces, called "Insides". I'm so excited to be holding my very first solo art show in NY September 16th! Please join me at 99 Bowery, 3rd Floor, from 7-11PM. Everyone is welcome. 

    As for 2017, I'm graduating this December from NYU, a semester early. This is one of the most important things for me. This means that starting 2017, I hope to have a full time job in NYC!

    To see more from Bianca, follow her on Instagram