Tiana Attride might just be Chapel Hill's upcoming photography "it" girl, and it's easy to see why. Not only is her body of work striking, but her portraits are somehow both florescent and provocative. They draw in viewers with their clean aesthetic and unique posing and ask questions about identity and individuality. Not to mention that her instagram is straight fire. [Seriously, don't take my word for it, check her out @tian.a] Her website, The Legend of Tiana, is a treasure trove of her distinctive photographs, and it makes this pretty obvious: this kid's got style. 

I got the chance to sit down with Tiana via Skype and ask her about her photographs as she starts her summer in Boston, interning at The  Aviary Gallery.

Your photos can come off a narrative, do you see yourself as a storyteller in addition to a photographer?

"I would say yes. When I shoot with somebody, I don't really like posing people or anything. I feel like people are most beautiful in the way that they naturally are, and photography, for me is a lot about catching those little moments between when somebody is presenting themselves to the world and when they are just being themselves, alone with their own thoughts. In my photos I feel that I do want to tell a story, but not necessarily a made up story, but just a story about who the person in the photograph is, which sounds cheap, but whatever."

Your photos, on a latent level at least, present the viewer with a lot of color and texture. How do you view this interaction? Do you view one as more important than the other?

"No, not really. I think it really has to do a lot with the composition of the photo. If I've learned anything, over the last couple of months especially, it's that every single element of the photo matters. Everything matters. So no, I don't think I value color over texture, or vice versa. At the end of the day, they both contribute different things to a photograph. It's like comparing apples to oranges, for me."   

What do you think of the contemporary art market?

"Contemporary art is really weird right now. I think that people like to pretend a lot of the time that they really care about the quality of the art, frankly. At the end of the day, and it's shitty to say, I know, but for a lot of people, a lot of galleries, too, it ends up being a lot about the money. And the contemporary art world is very dark. A) It's a lot about money and B) it's a lot about people playing to this certain aesthetic, whatever the aesthetic of the moment is. I feel that people get trapped a lot of the time in what's popular, so they're making art that's not necessarily based on what they might actually care about, but instead what is going to get them famous or the most money. And it's not to say that people don't produce great art, because people certainly still are, but I just think that the contemporary art world is starting to twist art, maybe even value some art that really isn't saying anything."

How has living in Boston influenced your work?

"It's interesting, because I do a lot of portraits, and I mainly photograph my friends or people that I know. Coming to Boston has been really difficult because I don't know anybody here. So, I'm kind of having to step back and re-route the way that I go about making images. And I'm also trying to be better about photographing strangers, which sounds really weird. Doing art is a lot easier for me when I'm surrounded by people who are willing to work with me, but being alone here has been a challenge so far, and I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate that - being alone. It's a learning process. It's a growing process. As the summer goes on, I think I'll learn a lot and hopefully produce something good, or maybe even a couple good things."

Images courtesy of Tiana Attride