27th August 2018

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Q: Hi, Sara! We’re very excited to find out about your opinions and visions, but first could you introduce yourself?


My name is Sara de Sousa, I’m an amateur photographer based in Lisbon, Portugal and I mostly shoot on film.

Q: Do you feel more passionate about shooting in analog compared to digital? 


Yes, a lot more. It’s so, so different. What first drew me into film photography was the aesthetic. Most of the time, you can tell when a photo was shot on film, and it’s not just the grain. I can’t really explain. But when I started to actually shoot in analog, I fell in love with the process, too. It forces you to slow down – especially if your camera is fully manual, like my Pentax – and that in turn leads you to reflect more on each shot. Also, the fact that you’re limited to about 36 photos per roll makes you become increasingly selective of what and when you shoot. I have no doubt that shooting on film has helped me find my style, by narrowing my focus and pushing me to find what I really want to photograph.


Q: When did you first start shooting in analog?


A little over a year ago, after spending hours and hours on Flickr and Reddit Analog lusting after photos shot on film.

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Q: We love the visuals of your series Beach Boys. What inspired you to create it and the meaning behind it?


Thank you! It started quite intuitively. There were a couple of images that popped into my mind: a round mirror in the dunes, with the sunlight reflected on it, and these two friends of mine, who are beautiful, together in those dunes, with the yellow sand and the blue sky behind them contrasting with their skin. From there, I asked them to do it, bought a mirror and chose the lovely dunes of Guincho beach, in Cascais, for the location. This series brings together a bunch of elements that I’m really drawn to, visually: reflections, the human body, strong contrasts.


Q: Have you ever had a bad experience with analog?


There have been a couple of rolls that have left me feeling disappointed, but I don’t think I can blame the medium. 


Q: How does the culture in Portugal inspire or impact you when it comes to taking photographs?


That’s hard for me to answer, because I haven’t really had the experience of photographing other countries since I became more serious about photography. I can say that Portugal offers a lot of diversity – there are cities for street photography, beaches, dunes, forest and mountains for nature photography, little picturesque villages, diverse people… and I can find all of these within 1 hour of where I live, Lisbon.

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Q: How would you express your art form without social media? 


It’s so weird to consider that because social media seems almost inextricable from my experience with photography. But, I guess I would probably find more “real life” groups dedicated to photography, connect with galleries and just get more involved, non-virtually, with the local photography community. Actually, I should be doing all of that now.


Q: In your eyes, what makes a great photograph?


It depends on the genre, mostly, I think. For me, a great photo in the vein of social documentary photography and a great editorial photo are defined as such by different standards. With the former, the content matters a lot more, whereas with the latter, it’s much more about the purely aesthetic side of it. But an impacting color palette, an unusual composition and a great moment well caught (perhaps emotion on a face) - as cliché as those are - are what I see as (some of) the features of a great photo.

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Q: What inspired you most to get into street photography?


Vivian Maier, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau… the big names. I looked at so many of their photos and was,and  still am, amazed at the moments they could capture. Street photography is spontaneous, not staged (well, maybe not always) and requires of the photographer an eye for composition and all the other important things as well as speed, instinct and sneakiness. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially if you’re shooting film on a manual camera. I really admire those iconic street photographers.


Q: What captures your attention the most when you’re out taking photographs?


Some of my motifs are the same for both street photography and, let’s say, “staged” photos, like Beach Boys. I’m very drawn to strong contrasts, reflections, interesting little moments, details. If I’m out on the street shooting, I’ll always look twice at any mirrors and interesting or dramatic shadows.

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Q: Whose work has influenced your imagery the most?


I think my influences are a big pot where many different photographers and single photos are mixed into the style and motifs that move me the most. But right now, I would say Viviane Sassen. A lot of her work is abstract and a bit surreal, very focused on shapes and shadows and strong colors. I’m in love with her photos.

Q: What piece of advice would you have given yourself when you first started analog photography?


Don’t open the back of your camera when the film is still inside, ever… I did that with my first roll. Also: don’t be so shy and fearful. Go ahead and take that photo of the interesting looking old man sitting at the café. What’s the worst that could happen? (That advice is also valid for present me, actually.)

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You can find more of Sara's work here