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In Conversation with Ola Onda

When husband and wife photography/art direction duo Lillian Martinez and Daniel McKee, who work collectively as Ola Onda, wrote to us to collaborate we knew we couldn’t say no—their aesthetic so perfectly vibes with Poketo. We stayed up late together one Friday night to create Poketo’s first ever Designer Holiday Gift Guide, featuring gift picks from Ben Medansky, Eric Trine, Highlow Jewelry, Recreation Center, and Ladies and Gentlemen. Here, Ola Onda tell us a little bit about how they started working together and what sets them apart as photographers.


Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds? When did you start working together as Ola Onda?

We both went to college at The School of the Art Institute. We met in a photo class and started dating and working together right away. But we felt like we were just beginning to get to know each other, and our work was shy of reaching its full potential in those days. When we started Ola Onda in 2013 something just clicked. We realized we both love making images, but we excelled at opposite things. Collaborating in this way really allowed us to make work that we feel transcends anything we could have done on our own.

You guys are relatively new to Los Angeles – how has the transition been? Where can we find you two hanging out?

Moving to LA has been great, both beautiful and intense. There are so many talented artists and thinkers here, ready to collaborate and make great images with us. The best place to find us would probably be sitting by our computer editing or out in the world shooting. We also really like hanging out in the outdoor area of Valerie’s Cafe and pairing smoked milk ice cream with all the fruit flavors they have at Mateo’s.

Current artists or photographers that are on your radar or that you draw inspiration from?

There’s so much inspiration in the world! We see really amazing work from people like Mate Moro and Viviane Sassen and hope that we can bring our own voice to this new “wave” of photography that is happening. We are also very inspired by design objects and architecture. We recently got a chance to visit Arcosanti and it totally blew our minds.

In the short time you’ve been in LA, you’ve collaborated with one of the city’s most in-demand artists working in ceramics, Ben Medanksy, and the prolific, absolutely lovely Kelynn and Pauline of Fruitmilk. Any dream collaborations?

Oh boy, that’s a huge list. The other day we ran into Miranda July. She would be amazing to work with. Also, we would really love to art direct and shoot a campaign for Nike.

Pretty much everyone is a photographer these days. How do you set yourselves apart, and any words of advice to those aspiring to be like you?

We fully invest ourselves in the projects that we take on and let our work speak for itself. Our advice is to work hard and be nice.

It’s the end of the world and you can bring three things with you into the afterlife. What are they?

A camera to take pix, a hammock for lounging and our favorite outfit so we can look cool for eternity :)

Interview by Chantal Chadwick

Tagged with: Miscellaneous

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