Redefining the Self-Portrait: Photographer Rebeca Cygnus

Redefining the Self-Portrait: Photographer Rebeca Cygnus

Rebeca Carpintero–most commonly known as Rebeca Cygnus–is a fine art photographer who has set herself apart as a master of the self-portrait. Her collection of work has a distinct soulful quality, which can be described as melancholic, nostalgic and feminine all at once. Captured during the darker hours of the day, each photograph exudes the beauty of solitude in the most magical, whimsical way. Using visual poetry to explore the depths of human emotion, Rebeca’s work has been recognized worldwide through prestigious awards, including the Florence Shanghai Prize in 2013.

We recently chatted with the young and prolific artist about what drives her creativity, her one-of-a-kind style and recent feature in MyDomaine with actress Nina Dobrev.


Tell us about yourself.

Since I was a child, I loved playing the piano and writing poetry. I found those things worked together beautifully in photography. My images are very poetic and have a musicality to them. I love elegance, blue and classical music. Art constantly makes me question my life and that’s why I chose to use it as my medium of expression.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I began photographing myself as a hobby in 2009 and began to realize that it’s a powerful and curious way to express emotions. It was the one medium that encouraged me to be the director, the character and the photographer at the same time. So, I chose it as a way of expressing myself and showcasing how I see life. Also, photographers like Gregory Crewdson, Bill Henson and Brooke Shaden inspired me to get started.

Your work is very personal; every image is a self-portrait. Why did you choose to incorporate yourself in your art?

I conceive art as a way of life and when I do self-portraits. I become the character and in some way, live deeper within the story I’m telling. I love to feel the cold, wet grass under my feet, and the rain falling through my skin. It’s a way of feeling my life in a more authentic way. Essentially, I can do things I couldn’t do in my normal life. Even if I start doing portraits of other people, I will still continue photographing myself. A self-portrait is self-knowledge and therapy–life itself.


How would you describe your creative process?

That’s the best part of my work. I always say that photography is a journey and not a goal. All of my photographs flourish from my own experiences in life. I turn them into art as much as possible. The first thing I do is read, watch movies, TV and write a lot about my daily life every morning. Then, something happens in my brain and comes out in form of an idea. I try to visualize it by creating a sketch. After that, I choose colours, location and emotion. When I have what I need, I move on and connect with the present moment and the emotion I want to express. It’s about controlling everything at the beginning and then letting it all go when I’m shooting; every element comes together naturally to create a final image.

Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev recently chose some of your artwork for her home as part of our recent collaboration with her and My Domaine. How did that feel?

Amazing. She’s a wonderful actress and has an outstanding home. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I’m so proud. Also, MyDomaine is one of my favourite websites, so I couldn’t be happier!

(The End of Gravity)
(The Embrace by Rebeca Cygnus)
(The Embrace)

What message do you hope to send through your art?

Something beautiful that hides a powerful message enthrals me. I want people to feel the same way when they see this kind of imagery. We are humans and emotions are the best thing we have. They’re what make us feel alive. I don’t want to only make beautiful images; I want to make them powerful in some way.

As an artist, what legacy do you hope to leave behind?

Reality is one of my biggest inspirations, so as an artist, I want to connect my life with my art. I want people to see themselves in my photographs in a profound way. I want to make them part of it, as if it were a mirror. I want everyone to think about life and themselves as people. That’s the kind of art I want to create and leave behind. Also, as a woman, I want to show how I connect to that nature and gain a deeper knowledge about it through art.


Visit Rebeca’s captivating collection of prints on Citizen Atelier here.