As the whirlwind of 2023 continues, it’s easy to overlook the artistic gems of emerging talent like Amel Adrian. The young LA-based film photographer is rapidly defining a unique aesthetic, one that deftly mingles the timelessness of film and the crispness of digital.
Adrian discovered her passion for photography in the simplest way possible — by picking up her mother’s old Konica Minolta camera and letting curiosity take the reins. Capturing the rhythm of life became second nature, an extension of herself that she nurtures with love and intentionality. “Nothing in my life fulfills me the way taking photos does,” Adrian admits. “It’s so much a part of who I am and my identity.”
Serving as a kaleidoscopic cultural hub, Los Angeles also played a significant role in shaping her worldview and craft. The city, brimming with diverse landscapes, multicultural influences, and vibrant creative energy, provides a rich canvas for her artistic explorations. It’s in the thriving metropolis that Adrian, much like a modern flâneur, captures unrefined moments of authenticity, framing instances of candid joy and serendipity with a distinctly cinematic eye.
She tells us, “We spend so much time going through the motions, and because I have to be so mindful and aware when shooting candid images, I feel like I’m paying tribute to or honoring the unrefined and uncontrollable moments that make up our existence.”
Amel Adrian is no longer the little girl who picked up a camera for fun — she’s now evolved into an artist who appreciates the beauty of spontaneity and thrives on capturing the human essence. “I’d say what I most want people to take away from my art is the beauty of the unrefined moment and how pure it really is to be present,” she explains. This sentiment is reflected in her body of work, which ranges from intimate portraiture to evocative, off-the-cuff scenes of daily life, echoing the fleeting nature of moments and the perennial beauty of the world around us.
“I shoot predominantly on film but I’m very intentional with my color correction and editing style, and I like my photos to look more modern than vintage, per se. So I’d say my style is like a hybridization of digital and film,” the photographer explained. “But what I really want to define my aesthetic is the way I compose my images and how ethereal my subjects look. My goal in my photography is to highlight the beauty within all my subjects and to capture their essence in its best light.”
In an exclusive conversation with Raydar, Amel Adrian shares her journey, her inspirations, and the aesthetic vision that defines her craft.
1. Caleb Davis
This photo was actually from my first shoot I ever did on film. I had purchased a Canon AE-1 program for $100 off of a friend and I had so much anxiety about using it. I sat on it for about a month and even started having dreams of shooting film. So I brought the camera with me one day to my friend’s house and ended up asking if I could shoot them [Caleb Davis] on it. We took pictures in the alley behind their house.
I used natural lighting and the camera’s manual settings to take this image, and to this day I’m in love with how it turned out. I honestly feel like this shoot is what gave me the confidence to start shooting film because it was the first sign of potential that I saw in myself. But what amazed me, even more, was how something that was so unplanned could unfold and be captured so beautifully.
2. Trynity Atoms
I saw Trynity on Instagram and I followed her and we became mutuals. I ended up DMing her asking if she wanted to shoot and we met in person for the first time on this day. Tryn is a water sign and she has a very strong connection with the ocean, so I wanted to do a beach shoot with her.
We decided to shoot in Malibu and at this private beach that I love and we sort of just caught a vibe, got to know each other and developed a connection while shooting. I shot her on my point-and-shoot 35mm film camera and used the built-in flash plus natural lighting to achieve this look. We loved how the photos came out and this is one of the shoots I’m most grateful for because Tryn ended up becoming one of my best friends and favorite muses to work with til this day.
3. Daniel D’artiste
Daniel is one of my best friends and he’s an incredible DJ and artist. I took this photo of him at Soho Warehouse during one of his sets and we were both in love with how it turned out. It was a candid moment where he stepped outside by the pool to get some sunlight while he drank his rosé and danced to the music that was playing, and the way the natural lighting illuminates him in the photo is almost ethereal.
We also loved the depth of the image and the different elements within the composition – him being in the front but off-center, the pool behind him with people swimming, and the mountains and clouds in the background. The picture embodies a sense of joy and freedom and endless summer that we have both been intentionally trying to manifest into our lives.
4. Keith Powers & Malik G
I took this photo of Keith and Malik at Keith’s Event called Sweet One. This was the fourth event I had photographed for Sweet One but it’s one of my favorite photos out of all four events. Keith and Malik were recording a video singing along to a song that the DJ was playing, and they didn’t even notice me sneak up and capture them raw and in the moment. But you can feel from their facial expressions how much fun they were having and I just love the overall energy of the photo because it’s so raw and real and unrefined in a way.
It was just one of those moments I was lucky enough to catch. But overall I love how film looked in the dark club, and flash really allowed me to capture crisp images on film even in low light. But the aesthetic of the photo, the nightlife party scene is something that I think when photographed well can be extremely beautiful and profound.
5. Esme Navarrete
Esme was one of my first muses when it came to shooting 35mm film and we started our collaborating quite a bit. 2020 was the year that I really started to gain my own sense of style in my photography and really started to put my work out there and creative directing my shoots. This shoot was something I creative directed and Esme styled, and it is my favorite photo that I took in 2020. We knew we wanted to shoot in a rose garden and there happened to be one right by my university.
So we went there around golden hour, and I shot these on my point-and-shoot. Nature is one of my favorite environments to take portraits in, and the flash plus the natural sunlight is one of my favorite combinations. And those elements plus the roses, plus Esme’s gorgeous almost fairy-like outfit really tied together this photo in an almost ethereal way and it’s my favorite photo at the rose garden to this day.