Monday, November 19, 2012

Meet the Artist: Elisa Vietri

Elisa Vietri is a Cleveland photographer whom I met a couple of years ago at a local networking event. She specializes in architectural landscapes and environmental portraiture. She captures beauty and mood in moments and places that most people seem to walk right by, unaware. Her photos of Cleveland are featured every week in Cool Cleveland.

When did you realize that you had a talent for creating visual art
in general...and for photography in particular?

Starting as a very young child, I've been a visual communicator. I distinctly remember cutting pictures out of the Sears catalog to make collages and create "families" with wardrobe changes at a very young age. I can still feel the deep joy of creation that was evoked in me by working on those projects. I was quite shy as a child so I never shared those things with anyone. Rather, I would hoard them. They meant that much to me. They were precious.
        As the years passed I became more and more enamored of photos and my obsession grew from tearing pages out of magazines to collecting black and white snap shots at flea markets and garage sales. Eventually I began purchasing work by other photographers. I always took my own photographs, too, and even had a short stint in a dark room developing my images but I never truly believed what I did was of interest to anyone else. Nor was I good at the technology. Then about five years ago, I purchased my first digital SLR camera and started slowly learning its ins and outs, trying to make peace with the technology. (I still wrestle with those bits and bytes.) The way people reacted to my pictures drove me to try harder, do better. But ultimately that same feeling of joy I had as a child is what propelled me, and still does. It was a wonder to realize that that thing, that joy, still lived in me. I wanted to give it space in my life and an opportunity to grow. So, I take pictures for me, and sometimes other people get to enjoy them too.
"Perhaps it's a feeling of making beauty from ashes
that I love."

Here's Elisa's capture of  is the "Elegant Behemoth," as she called
it on her blog -- Lincoln Electric's giant wind turbine in Euclid.
(This is also a favorite subject of mine to shoot.)
Tell us a little about your art.
What inspires you?

I'm easily inspired and intrigued by the world around me. I guess you could say I'm a "cheap date" when it comes to inspiration. I enjoy ruin and oddity. I can be stopped in my tracks by bold color in unusual settings or repeating patterns. I gravitate to serious, somewhat hidden faces. I tend to distrust smiles as they are often created with ulterior motives, especially when a camera is pointed in their direction. I'm also inspired by architecture, men's fashion, high contrast, crusty details and vintage anything. I get most excited when I photograph something that others have not seen or maybe they don't see it the way I do. I truly love the moment when someone furrows their brow, cocks their head and says, "But I was there too. I didn't see that." Or, "I never thought of taking that picture." Perhaps it's a feeling of making beauty from ashes that I love. Maybe I just like thinking I have a unique perspective. Here's hoping I do. Oh, last, but certainly not least, I tend to chase the light. Pretty light. Harsh light. Minuscule light.

What are some of your favorite subjects to shoot, and why?
I most like to shoot two extremely different subjects, barren landscapes and still life or portraits. When I shoot one I exclude the other. I strive for that because it brings a simplicity to the image that allows you to focus on the intended subject. That being said, I find great beauty in busy and complex images, too.
Simplicity is the destination, not my current location. I really like shooting portraits where emotion is relayed subtly through an offset smirk or intense eyes. Give me great eyes, and I am yours. I never tire of shooting Cleveland either. She's a beauty in her awkward way.

Are there any other photographers you admire?
There are many, many, many. My current favorites are Rodney Smith, Francesca Woodman, Irving Penn, Vivian Meier and Lee Friedlander. I recently saw Annie Leibovitz's Master Collection in Columbus and have great respect and admiration for her. She is an incredible story teller and a master with light.

Why do you do what you do with your art?
Mostly I do what I do because it makes me happy. And a little because I like documenting a tiny piece of the world around me. It makes me feel like I'm more in the moment and paying closer attention to the now.

Elisa also works in the information technology field doing quality assurance testing, training and business analysis. To learn more about her and her photography, visit her website at and her blog at

* All photos on this post are by Elisa Vietri.


FreshGreenKim said...

Brava, Ladies. *and patting self on back for making the introduction*. Beautiful profile by a wonderful writer! 

Pat Washington said...

 Thank you, Kim!  I appreciate your taking the time to stop by!

Mleslie35 said...

What great images she has captured!