written by Casey Cosley
Grace Almera has a knack with colors that will bring you to another world. Her fantasy inspired art holds a promise of the legends and fairy tales we’ve all grown up with.
Her exquisite work peaked our interest immediately and she gracefully accepted our invitation to give us some insight into her creative brain.
Looking at your work brings me back to the days when my head was firmly planted between the page of any fantasy book I could get my hands on. It has a simple elegance that carries with it a breadth of story and power. How did you come upon such a fantastical style?
Photography is a sort of therapy for me. The reason why I started it was because my aunt, who was like a second mom and my best friend passed away. I needed an outlet. Something very different from my studies and previous hobbies.
Back when we were kids, there would often be power outages in the Philippines, especially during storms. My grandmother would gather us in the living room or in her bedroom, and light some candles. We would then sit cosily on the bed or sofa and listen to her stories about mythical creatures living in the forests or scary stories. The latter was not my favourite part back then haha.
So, I think the environment that I grew up in has really influenced and shaped my personal style. I wanted to go back to that cosy place, daydream and feel comforted at the same time, which resulted in the images that I have created so far.
What do your mood boards look like when you’re concepting an image?
To be honest, my mood boards are quite messy. I would make one and send it to my team, but that mood board might change and I would scrap that whole idea if I see something that would work out better on the day of the actual shoot. I would however keep the core story, and update my team.
However, if it’s a client session, I stick to what the client and I agreed on.
Outside of creating art, what type of things do you do to keep yourself inspired and motivated?
I like to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Find locations for future photoshoots. I also love watching fantasy and sci-fi movies, where I often get my inspiration. This might sound weird, but when I feel that I had a long and rough day, I like to go to my favourite coffee shop, sit close to where the windows are and look at people passing by while drinking a cup of coffee. I would then try to imagine what kind of person they are and what characters in a fantasy movie or book they would be.
I also like going to exhibitions (we do not have that many here in Denmark though) and look at the works of talented creatives. Moreover, I live near two castles; one of them is close to the sea. When the weather is warmer, I like to sit by the harbour and just enjoy the view. I think it is important to have days where you do not really do anything and just reset and refuel.
How has your style evolved over time?
The first couple of years from when I received my first camera, I used it to take photos of mostly flowers, my parent’s cat and random things. As I mentioned earlier, I used photography as a sort of therapy. I would take my camera with me whenever I go out for short and long walks. I would then use the images that I took as backgrounds for quotes that I like from films, poetry and lyrics. I called my page in Facebook, “Photography Smashed with Poetry”, which I changed to my name back in 2016, when I decided that I wanted to pursue it full time after I took my master’s degree in marketing.
I am quite fortunate that I knew from the start that fine art and fantasy themed images are the genres that I liked. I really enjoyed the works of Tim Walker, Zemotion, Brooke Shaden and Emily Soto. I was following them on social media, reading their blogs and watching tutorials on YouTube.
From there it was more or less trial and error as well as a lot of experimenting to find my personal style. The thing that I love about photography is the fact that you can always learn or try something new.
In your blog, you mention that you are a part of the Free Spirit team. Can you tell us a little about that and how you got started with them?
I met the founder of the Free Spirit crew and his lovely wife (designer Fraise au Loup), when they invited us to Paris a couple of years ago for a project featuring Fraise au Loup’s new creations. After the trip, they asked if I wanted to join the organisation, which I gladly said yes to.
The Free Spirit is a group of passionate individuals working together to create several projects and campaigns to raise money for an orphanage in Africa. We combine art and philanthropy. Last year, we started a campaign called “The Essence of Life”, which is a project dedicated to create awareness regarding climate change and the human impact on the environment.
At what point in your creation process do you come up with the colors you want to use?
From the actual planning to post-processing. I usually try to choose colours that I know will complement each other when I choose the outfits and makeup look for the model. Sometimes, I get lucky with the location and I only need to tweak a bit of the colours in Photoshop. Other times, I need to composite to create the background that I want, or add elements e.g. fabrics, fireflies etc. Photoshop is such an amazing tool to bring your images and imagination to life.
What would you say to people who are curious about ICP and want to know if it’s for them?
Purchase it! NOW! You won’t regret it. It’s very addictive, but don’t purchase it in the middle of the night as I did. Especially if you have an important meeting or work the day after, because you’ll end up clicking that “create” button over and over again. ICP will give you unique looks to build the mood of your images.
How hard is it to get to the final result for your colors on your images using ICP? Has using ICP made the creation of your work easier?
I sometimes have days when I’m not really sure how I want to edit a certain image. On such days, I would play around with different adjustments in Photoshop, which makes the editing process much longer than usual. Using ICP not only saves me time, it also creates so many different looks. It gives the base of the overall mood that would usually take me hours to figure out.
ICP is also buildable, so you can keep on stacking the colours, tweak them and add your own adjustments to get the final look that you want in the end.
Actually, you can end up with so many looks; you’ll have a hard time choosing, which is such a luxury. Furthermore, ICP is very versatile and you can use it whether you are toning for beauty, fine art, product photography and so on.
If you want your jaw to hit the floor you’ll chip a tooth, check out more from Grace Almera on her website and keep up to date with more of her incredible imagination on instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
If you haven’t tried the panel yet, get started here: https://infinite-tools.com/infinite-color-plugin/
If you’re still reading (I know you are) check out this amazing step by step visual of Grace building her color with ICP!