Be sure to vote for your favourite photographer from our special photography issue here!
By Olivia Bednar
The grunge band on stage screams lyrics as devoted fans thrash around in the mosh pit. Yet, it’s the eerie artwork at the concert venue that captivates Seiji De Luca- Whiteman. She pulls out her phone to document the dark, grotesque images hanging behind the band and suddenly, the 17-year-old curates her own idea of beautiful photography—obscurity.
De Luca-Whiteman, also known as Lokishots on Instagram, is a first-year photography student who is best known for her ominous smoke work and obscure portraits.
She comes from the small town of Port Perry, Ont. and has always been interested in rebelling against “the normalcy of things.” Growing up, she listened to artists like Slipknot and Marilyn Manson, which heavily influenced her work. The graphic artwork displayed at these types of concerts inspired her unconventional portrait technique of placing blankets over her subjects’ heads.
“You don’t really see a person walking down the street with a bag over their head everyday,” De Luca-Whiteman laughed. “When people see it, they’re intrigued because it’s something new and different.”
In grade 12, her final project involved covering the face of her subject as a representation of self-identity.
“It brought less focus to the face and more to what [the body] was doing,” De Luca- Whiteman said. “I thought, ‘what can I do to make a photo not about someone’s face, or whether it’s a ‘pretty’ person or not?’”
She has also covered her subjects’ heads with pillowcases and masks.
Despite going to school in the heart of the city and being surrounded by urban street photography, De Luca-Whiteman is still drawn to natural settings for her shoots.
Forests are her favourite location. The cool, quiet mood is the perfect backdrop for her creative vision. “I haven’t warmed up to shooting in the city just yet,” she said.
A favourite prop of De Luca-Whiteman’s is an old telephone. It can be spotted various times on her Instagram. In one photo, a subject pretends to make a phone call with it. In another, a woman has the cord wrapped around her neck.
Like most struggling artists, De Luca-Whiteman went through a slump with her work and almost dropped out of her program. It was only when she was editing one of her smoke bomb portraits and got some positive affirmation from a professor that she gained her confidence back. He asked if she had used any composites or Photoshop (which she hadn’t) because it looked so good.
“It was a big self-discovery moment,” she said. “It was like I hit enough buttons on the computer and found the right one.”
De Luca-Whiteman’s career is just beginning and she has a lot planned for the future. Right now, she wants to get more involved in mixed media and contemporary photography. Eventually, she would like to go into editorial work and fashion.
“I want to be able to bring that creative idea to fashion because it’s such an industry where to be weird and to be interesting is really good,” she said.