Graziella Ines: “lost in VEGAS”

For her first self-published photobook, film photographer Graziella Ines shows what its like to get to know the world-famous Las Vegas — and get lost in its psychedelia in the process.

Two years ago, my good friend and fellow film photographer Graziella Ines graciously sent me a copy of her first photo book entitled lost in VEGAS. It was a collection of black and white photographs that she took during a work assignment in the city in 2014. I was particularly thrilled about seeing her work in print, as I’ve been following her story-driven street photographs for years.

Soon after getting my copy, I asked Grazie to tell me about her book for a story on Whattaroll Magazine. “This is not a travel book,” she told me straight away, and I could easily see why after flipping through the first few pages. It was not about the hot spots and iconic places that beckon travelers to its glitzy lifestyle. Rather, it was the story of someone getting lost in its dazzling corners, over and over, in the course of several months.

“I made this book/collection with the goal of showing different impressions of the city and also to get to know the city better. Or maybe just to tell a story — a girl, armed with her camera, trying to find herself in this city of lights and psychedelia,” she said in my interview.

On her book, Grazie confessed about feeling lost in Las Vegas despite its constant invitation. I guess, knowing her on a personal level helped me understand what it was like for her to roam an unfamiliar territory that she couldn’t relate to. Despite eventually knowing how to make her way around the city, a certain degree of detachment or space remained, and I could see it in some of the photos she chose for this book.

“I think that is how it is with me and Las Vegas. I accept that and I think it works well in taking street style photos too. To always have that distance or space between me and my subject, being a stranger each time, not knowing what to expect next from this city in the middle of the desert.”

A body of work about Las Vegas done in black and white is probably an unusual choice for some, and it’s understandable given all the colorful landmarks, dazzling nightlife, and frenetic energy that color typically brings to life. Still, Grazie’s affinity for black and white photography enabled her to paint a picture of the city in her own hues, in a style that uses composition and contrast to tell a story. Simplicity is key in her work, and it translated nicely on print as well.

Overall, I find this book to be an interesting glimpse into what its like to get to know Las Vegas from the perspective of someone who found it challenging to connect with. It’s one of the first self-published works that have inspired me — in both content and form — to do my own.

See more of Graziella Ines’ work on her website, Facebook Page, and Instagram, and grab a copy of lost in VEGAS on Blurb.