brenda cantu

  • Vogue, TEDx, Paper Magazine and Celebrity Portraits With New York Film Academy Photography Alumni


    From Vogue to TEDx, it’s been a busy month for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography School alums and students alike. As 2018 picks up momentum, we couldn’t be more proud to share some truly inspiring success stories from various members of our NYFA community who have had their incredible photography work featured on major publications and thought leadership platforms.

    Samuel McKnight

    Samuel McKnight grew up in Germany and Oklahoma before following his dreams to the NYFA Los Angeles Photography Conservatory, graduating from the 1-Year Photography Program in 2017. Not much later, his photo of DJ and activist Zeke Thomas has been published in an interview in Paper Magazine.

    Monika Sedziute

    Lithuanian Fulbright scholar and NYFA graduating MFA student Monika Sedziute has worked as a photographer all over the world, from her native Lithuania to London, Spain, and New York, with work published in magazines including IKONA, L’Officiel, Elegant Magazine, Promo Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Eden Magazine, Fayn Magazine, Stilius Magazine, Zurda Magazine (online), The Wrap (online), Luxure Magazine. See more of her clients on her website.

    Most recently, the graduating MFA student’s shots of actor Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water) and actor/director Kenneth Branagh were published in Rap Mag. She has also photographed actor Waytt Oleff from the film, IT.

    Alina Grafkina

    Alina Grafkina is currently working hard as a BFA student at NYFA Los Angeles, but being a busy student didn’t hold her back from finding a home for one of her photos in the greatest fashion photography publication of all: Vogue! Her lyrical portrait titled Innocence went live on Vogue Italia in late January 2018.

    Alejandro Ibarra

    MFA alum Alejandro Ibarra nearly broke the internet when the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Metro.Co.UK, Buzzfeed and more spotlighted his NYFA class proejct, Coming Out Stories, last spring. This year, Ibarra has held a burst of editorial photoshoots with celebrities including Kick-Ass star Chloe Grace Moretz, comedian John Oliver, Broadway star Kristen Chenoweth, and Armie Hammer of Oscar-nominated film Call Me By Your Name. Check out more of his work on his website.

    Brenda Cantu

    Brenda Cantu has been up to big things since completing her BFA in Photography at NYFA Los Angeles. In a project called Midnight Memories which she began during her studies at NYFA, Cantu began to document every interaction she had with people, and made some surprising discoveries. The project evolved to become her 2016 TEDx talk, Why People Matter.

    Pamela Garcia Aguirre

    MFA grad Pamela Garcia Aguirre is a multidisciplinary artist — a photographer, filmmaker, designer, and writer — focused on a cinematic approach to moments of magic and mystery in art history, sociology, life cycles, and more. Her mystical approach is evident in her photo Thunder in Paradise, published in Vogue Italia last fall. See more of her work on her website.

    Congratulations to our busy alumni for all their awesome work!

  • BFA Photography Student Delivers TEDx Talk on “Why People Matter”

    brenda cantu

    Brenda Cantu

    In any work of art, or even in everyday life, it is important to emphasize with either the characters in a story or those around us. Recently, BFA Photography student, Brenda Cantu was invited by TEDx Talks to enlighten people to the fact that every individual that you cross paths with has struggles, dreams, and fears of their own and, most importantly, to make people realize that they do matter. Taking this into consideration, we should all be more aware of the attitude we choose to express towards strangers and acquaintances in our daily lives, because it truly does make a difference in the world.

    “I hadn’t really acknowledged this until I started photographing and talking to strangers myself,” said Cantu. “I wanted to share that experience with the audience at hand.”

    The Monterrey, Mexico native initially gained the attention of a woman from TEDx Talks through her social media accounts, which showcased her work. After a conversation over the phone, Cantu was invited back to her home country to deliver a TEDxYouth@ASFM Talk about this very notion: “Why People Matter.”

    “I freaked out, of course, because I had never done anything like that, especially in front of such a big audience! On top of that, I was the only one being brought all the way from LA, and I felt really pressured to deliver something entertaining and great. But I took the opportunity anyway because I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and take this chance to expand my creative work and opinion with the people around me.”

    Cantu hopes her talk will achieve a change of societal attitude.

    "Chris" photo by Brenda Cantu

    “Chris” photo by Brenda Cantu

    “I personally feel that we’re at a time where we lack love and empathy towards individuals that we’re not as familiar with—and even those that we are with—and we lack the awareness of the fact that they feel as much as we do. I want nothing more than to see people being understanding, accepting, and supportive of other people even though they might share different beliefs and experiences, as long as these do not harm one another. It all really just starts with oneself.

    Back at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Cantu is continuing a photography series called “Midnight Memories,” and is in the process of beginning a new personal project that should be released in the next six months.

    "Josh" photo by Brenda Cantu

    “Josh” photo by Brenda Cantu

    “NYFA has not only made me grow in the technical and theoretical aspects of photography, but also in the humane, personal one. I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity of being taught and guided by overly talented teachers that have been nothing but inspiring and supportive to me and to my work. I’m deeply thankful for their insight and knowledge.”