The Collective: Auli Sinaga
By Sydney Vargas
For Auli Sinaga, photography began at a very young age. She has fond memories of her father giving her her first film camera in seventh grade. Yet, it wasn’t until very recently that she legitimately called herself an established photographer.
Along with her many roles such as a full-time student and Japanese sushi bar waitress on the weekends, she admits she tires easily. “I don’t really have days off,” Sinaga said. By allotting a photography class a semester, she finds a way to ensure time for her art amidst her busy life. Photography classes mean a great deal to her as she always seeks to learn the technical aspects of photography. “I just wanted to be educated by professionals. I am very good with directions. I strived to learn the rules. There’s never any harm in learning more. Every time I take a photography class I learn something new.”
Her hesitation to join a studio light class on campus translated to one of her greatest successes yet. “I was really intimidated when I came into studio lighting because it’s super technical. I didn’t know anything. I was really, really scared.” Professor of photography, Ardon Alger exposed her to great techniques as well as great boosts of confidence. “By the end of the semester Professor Ardon was like ‘submit these photos to the photo show they are really good!’ And it turns out I won an award for the advanced category. It was so rewarding.”
Her style of bold, unapologetic colors, contradict her rather calm demeanor. “Tyler the Creator and Solange are kind of my inspiration for that. The way they present color, ok like that’s what’s up! It’s nice. It’s bright. It’s there. It’s not ah, what’s the word? Corny! They’re not corny. So yeah, I don’t really take black and white there’s a time and place for that.” She prefers shooting people over objects and scenery. The models are always posed in vibrant clothing against an even brighter backdrop.
Auli’s work typically tends to only feature women of color. The Sinaga family migrated from their home of Indonesia to America when Auli started kindergarten in 2001. Auli was insecure about her darker complexion when she was younger. Her darker skin made her feel ostracized even in her own family. Admitting to even once using whitening creams to lighten