Debbie Carlos


Why do you take and create images?

I think it’s something instinctual in me to want to document the things I see. It’s a way of connecting and a way of keeping, more so than anything else. I’m not a huge collector of things other than of the moments I choose to take pictures of.

How do you define your photographic/artistic body of work? What subjects do you often explore in your work?

My work is mostly diaristic, focusing on the strange, beautiful and often overlooked moments of beauty of my everyday surroundings. Often they are domestic scenes, but also moments I happen upon as I’m traveling or simply walking around. A lot of my work revolves around nature and the natural world as well.

What motivates your work?

It is the need to connect, document, share the very simple moments of beauty & playfulness that can happen around us. It’s the very simple idea of just looking and paying attention. To a certain extent, I suppose it is a way for me to find some peace & calm.

What relationship does your work have with reality?

My work is very representational. Though the images come from my personal experience, I try to make them as universal as possible.

For you, what is the purpose of art?

As an art maker, it is a form of creating something beautiful. As an art viewer, it is a way for me to get out of my own head and learn about other experiences, and to be moved by them.

How do you want the public to respond to your work? Do you have a particular audience in mind?

I think that right now, in this moment in time when the world seems on the brink of collapse, I want people to look at my work and find peace, beauty, surprise and humor. I want people to take that and use it to find that in their own experience as well.

What is your training? Were you trained as a photographer?

I have a Bachelor degree in Psychology from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. In my last year at Clark, I took a photo class and realized that was something I wanted to pursue professionally. I went on to get a  BFA with an emphasis in Photography from the School Of The Art Institute of Chicago. Before that, I had been using a camera since I was a child.

How do you define your actual professional situation? What are your expectations?

I am a fine art photographer first and foremost. I am also a creative entrepreneur, selling my photography online. I also shoot editorial, food/lifestyle & interiors for a variety of clients.

It’s hard to live off art. Does this affect you and your work?

Living off art is definitely a challenge. I think when you start making your art a business, it is a struggle to find the time for art-making as you spend so much of your day marketing & strategizing. It’s a constant struggle for me to find a balance between the business & the making.

Have you worked with gallerists, curators, institutions and other art professionals? Can you discuss more about this particular relationship?

I have had some experience with gallerists, but my path has not been as institutional or traditional as it might be for most artists. I’ve mostly dealt with smaller galleries and a younger crowd. It has mostly revolved around friendships and connections in the art scene of where I live and have lived. It has probably been much more casual than most might experience.

In your opinion, what is the current state of contemporary photography in the Philippines?

As a Filipino living abroad for most of my life, the state of contemporary art & photography in the Philippines is not something I knew very much about. I know there has always been a strong tradition of art, but it never seemed very contemporary or interesting for me growing up. In the past few years however, I’ve only come to realize this blossoming contemporary photography scene that I feel like I can really connect with. For me, it is all still very new and I am very excited about it, and want to keep learning and looking.

How do you want contemporary photography to develop in the Philippines?

I am not sure, but I’m excited to see what happens.



Name: Debbie Carlos

Location: Lives and works in Michigan, USA




  • 1997 – 2001, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Clark University, Massachusetts
  • 2004-2007 BFA with an emphasis in Photography, The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL


Solo shows:

2015, Soft Serve, Have Company, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

2014, A Une Passante, MEME Space, Taipei, Taiwan

2014, New Work, Strange Matter, Lansing MI, USA

2014, Peripheral Vision, East London Gallery, London, UK

2013, Quality Time, Family Room, Chicago, IL, USA

2010, Wandering Cloud, Lula, Chicago, IL, USA


Group shows:

2105, Time | Place, Lansing Art Gallery, Lansing, MI

2015, Pictures & Vessels, Keystone Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2014, Here Is Me, City Limits Gallery, Oakland, CA

2013, Material Material, Little Paper Planes, San Francisco, CA

2011, We Have Begun Our Final Descent, Nationale Gallery, Portland, OR, USA

2011, 1 Year Anniversary Show, La Vitrine Gallery, Lyon, France

2010, Photokina, Cologne, Germany

2008, Fair Game, Estudio tres, Chicago IL, USA

2007, Forever Is Not Long Enough, 1250/EDA Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2007, UnNatural, Estudiotres, Chicago, IL, USA

2006, The El Show, The Blue Line EL on the CTA, Chicago IL, USA

2005, Intimacy (Human People), Campbell Works Gallery, London, UK

2005, Art Bash, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA