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Santiago Vanegas Imagines Haute Couture Robots for Atomica Magazine

Atomica Magazine is a magazine focused on fashion, photography, culture, contemporary design and music. More specifically, Atomica aims to challenge its readers to consider fashion photography, illustration and layout in new ways.

So when Atomica needed pictures of well-dressed robots attacking cityscapes — and really, who doesn't? — Academy photography student Santiago Vanegas was the right man for the job. His work for Atomica is half-real, half-imagined. When Santiago foretells the mechanized future to come, it is a very fashionable one.

We spoke to Santiago about his work for Atomica, his time at the Academy, and his plans for the future:

How did you get hooked up with Atomica?

To tell you the truth, I actually don't know. I basically just got an email one day saying they loved my photography and were interested in doing some work with me. Maybe they got a glimpse of my Web site, or maybe they saw my photography in one of the other magazines I've worked with. So I guess the answer to your question would be that I've just always tried to keep putting my work out there. Also, I only make images that I really feel strongly about. I like substance, not filler.

Either way, I'm very excited to have been featured in their past two issues. One thing always leads to another.

Where did the idea for this set of photographs come from?

It all started from a childhood obsession with all those neat toy robots. In a way, it's a tribute to my childhood. I wanted to create scenes of these great machines within the city, a very quiet nighttime city while everyone's asleep. In the robot series I'm working on, the robots are robots. For Atomica, I made them part human, part robot. It was very challenging to bring the three elements together seamlessly; the robot, the model, and the city. The challenge was also in making the scale of those three work convincingly. A 15-inch toy robot morphed with a 6-foot guy, and then making it look like it's 40-feet high, among city lights and 300-foot skyscapers. Toys will be toys.

How have you enjoyed your time at the Academy?

The Academy has been great to me. Lon Clark's classes have always given me the space to reinvent myself and my perception of photography as my primary tool. His classes are kind of like therapy. He's there to listen to his students while he occasionally gives us small electric shocks by means of intricate and disturbing questions. It's unsettling, honest, inspiring, and therapeutic. He's like Yoda, but without the walking stick and the green complextion!

However, the best teachers have definitely been my classmates. The Academy has such a lush variety of talented students. It's one big melting pot of energy, creativity, and opportunity.

What are your plans for life after the Academy?

My personal plans involve raising my son Calder (eight months old and counting!) with my wife (and Academy alumnus) Tracey Hogan. Starting my own family has been the greatest challenge and inspiration I'll ever have. It's quite humbling.

As for my art, I'll continue to do editorial work as I have been doing as long as I continue to have creative control over my photography. It's a great way to get exposure and feedback. As for the future, I want to step into the blurry world of "fine art photography," but in doing so, I want to step out of the gallery space with my images and into other unexpected — but relevant — public arenas.

More of Santiago's work can be viewed at www.homepage.mac.com/sanvandur and at www.photobistro.com/SantiagoVanegas.

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