First of all, congratulations for having your work displayed at the National Geographic! How did that happen?
Thank you so much! In reality, I wasn’t expecting that to happen. National Geographic carry-out cultural contests that allow readers to send their work to the magazine. The finalists are selected daily and the winners have their work published. I decided to try my luck and upload some of my work, and two of my photographs were chosen in one month! I’ve always read and admired National Geographic, so having my work displayed there was incredibly meaningful for me. It gave me a lot of motivation to keep taking pictures.
Ana Luiza, introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your first influences and passions for photography.
I was born in Brazil, in a city called Belo Horizonte. Since 2013, I am a law major with interests in Genre and Human Rights.
My fascination for photography started very early on, but I took a while to start taking pictures. I remember intensively reading a book that my parents had of Steve McCurry, about portraits. I also remember when I was 5 or 6 years old, reading this special edition of National Geographic about photojournalists, and they caused an enormous impact on me. The people in the photographs were completely different from everything I’ve seen before, and I imagined the story behind each one of them. I always loved listening and observing the behavior of people, and I think these books opened my mind to a whole new level of perception.
Years after, I started using an analog camera that my family had at home to photograph patterns and textures (tapestries, curtains, plates), which was something that I loved and took some pictures of when we would have a field trip in school. I would buy films with 36 poses (It’s better to have more chances to get a good picture!). I started having a lot of fun with cameras and photography. I think where I am now is just a natural evolution of that process.
Many of your pictures capture simple and mundane moments in people’s lives all around the world, why does that captivate you?
Often we don’t stop and think about the habits we adopt in our lives. Some things in our routine may seem normal or instinctive, but in reality they are social constructions within the context which we live in, and they aren’t all the same. On the other side, there are routines that are truly shared between people, and they changed radically from place to place. In the end, photographing people from different cultures or social contexts is an constant exercise of discovering similarities and differences in places and people.
When did you realize that photography was something special in your life? Any moment where you found your own style?
I got to a point where I was carrying my camera everywhere, because I was always seeing things I wanted to photograph. I think the most inspiring moment was one time, inside a soiree, that this woman recited an intense poems about her personal experiences as a black lesbian woman. It was a moment of incredible force and resistance, very rich in the visual sense. I immediately started imagining numerous possibilities and experiences in the art of photography.
You use a wide variety of themes and textures, what techniques do you apply?
I think that is a result from the different places I visit. I search for elements that are most important to me inside the environment. I think of photography as a result of work and collaboration. I always seek to understand the culture, traditions and history of the place. That’s something that always influence the way I photograph.
In your work you have great elements of light and depth. Is that something you try to capture?
In general, I try to make pictures with contrasts and textures. The lighting and shade, for me, is even more important than texture, from a aesthetic point of view. But I think whats most important is, that the subject and context be in sync with the aesthetic elements, so it creates something solid and integrated. An example is the series that I did in Pingyao in China, in the winter, because of the pollution, there’s a thick cloud around the whole city. And that makes it hard to see and the colors are not as visible. So I had to pay attention in whats nearer and incorporate this setting into a favorable situation. .
Does living in Brazil influence your photography?
Absolutely. I was born and raised in Minas Gerais, a very conservative state, very proud of its culture, traditions, religion and culinary. What I mean by that, is that Minas Gerais has strong cultural traits, and growing up around this environment made me interested in other cultures and traditions. Also, Brazil has strong social issues and that attracts me to the city and it’s people.
You’re constantly traveling. Whats next on your list? Which place was more fascinating? Why is travelling so important to you?
Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and photography and traveling are two elements that compliment themselves. Traveling is a way to have new experiences, expand our limits, and find out more about ourselves. I had that sensation when I visited the Amazon rain forest. The contact with nature, the grandiosity of the rain forest, the calm of the rivers, the diversity of animals… for me that was a strong connection with the environment. I really want to visit India and Mongolia. And in a near future, I hope I can visit Central Asia.
What are some of your future objectives and ambitions in relation to photography?
My objective is being more fluid and free in my photography. Be true to myself, and be curious, always looking for new techniques and influences.