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Meet Delila Rio and Bree Castillo of Ghosted Writers in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ghosted Writers.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Delila and Bree. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Bree: With Delila’s background in film and mine in creative writing, we connected over our shared love for storytelling. Honestly, we spend most of our time together overstaying our welcome at coffee shops writing cliche sad prose. I think writing and creating in general can be really frustrating, especially when you’re going through a stagnant wave and the pressure to be good at what you want to do for the rest of your life is overwhelming. Film was a great way for us to still create and explore another medium outside of writing. My grandpa gave me my first film camera, a Canon AE1 from the 80s, and Delila used her dad’s Nikon FM2. When we first started, we spent weekends taking pictures of the scenery and landscapes of Long Beach.

Delila: Ghosted Writers was formed at a time where we were unmotivated in our own set career paths. We needed an outlet to create without any expectations. There was no pressure to succeed, so each project was fun and new to us. In the beginning, we used our roommates and friends as models, collaborated with their brands and art (fashion, graphic design) and met up with other photographers online. Our friends have been very supportive of our photography which definitely helped us become confident as artists. We gained experience through creating projects for local art shows like “Chrysalis” for Conscious Collective and “Embedded” for the Look Up Art Show. When we finally decided to open for commissions it felt strange to charge people for something that used to be just for our own enjoyment. There was once again pressure to succeed but this time it motivated us to get better each time and continue learning. We even converted our living room into a photo studio!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Bree: I think we struggled after we realized we wanted to take photography seriously. Film used to be this place where we could explore without expecting any turnout. But now with commissions and art shows, we are expected to always take compelling photos worth being taken. I missed it when we were just casually taking pictures and didn’t care much about the product.

Delila: Yeah, I agree! It took time to value our art and ourselves as photographers. Once we began to improve, we took pride in our work and wanted to see where it could take us.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ghosted Writers – what should we know?
Bree: Ghosted Writers is a 35mm platform that creates visual stories and advocates for representation through an intersectional lens. We hope to celebrate the girl gaze and highlight strength in vulnerability. My favorite photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans, said something about how art is selfish sometimes. That really resonated with me because everyone uses art to express themselves and I realized it’s a privilege. We should also use art as a way for people who cannot speak for themselves to be seen and appreciated.

Delila: Since we both love storytelling, our photo sets always have a narrative or theme. We take pride in creating a fun and comfortable environment for everyone we work with. In an industry that is filled with people who take advantage of their position, it’s important to make everyone involved is on the same page. We choose to empower our muses and elevate people that are not typically celebrated in mainstream media. We are excited to continue growing and learning in the new year. We have some big projects coming up so stay tuned!

If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?
Delila: We probably would have chosen a name that’s timeless and actually related to photography.

Bree: That’s a good one! We were also very timid at first and I felt guilty spending time doing something other than writing. I wish we didn’t do that.

Delila: I wish we were more unapologetic from the start. I think in the beginning we thought about how our photos would be perceived which limited us.

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