- How did you get to where you are today? Have you always been interested in photography?
I have always been an artist and creative person. Over the years, I have expressed that interest and gift in many different ways from music and dance, to painting and now photography.
Nevertheless, I would argue that I was a “frustrated” artist in that I had the burgeoning desire but I did not have the support from my family. So oddly enough, I was a primary school teacher and at 26 years old, I moved from Spain to Scotland to learn English. With the intention of only staying for a few months, I met a young photographer who was taking classes at the university and that inspired me to pursue my passion despite the perceived obstacles. So I enrolled in school and with four years of dedicated work earned my BA in photography from Edinburgh College.
That’s one of the interesting things about photography. There is no one path to a successful career in this business. There are some who know their path from early on and others who find their way later in life. But it’s never too late to pursue your passion and you will never regret investing in yourself.
- What qualifications or training did you need to get your job?
Having a BA helps, but the real life and the work experience is the main training that you need. To go out there and work for people will be your qualifications.
In many careers, degrees and qualifications are legally required to perform the job. Photography is unfortunately not always that way. There is much more of a premium placed on contacts, connections, experience, and portfolios. In some ways, the democratisation of photography has encouraged anyone with a camera to lay claim to being a photographer and that unfortunately dilutes the perception of the entire profession.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the duality of professional photography. There are the technical aspects that can be taught / learned and the artistic aspects that cannot so easily. It is important to have a foundation, but the camera and technique are just tools and they alone cannot make someone a great photographer.
- How did you make your first steps into the competitive world of photography?
In a word, grind. I attended any/all photography related events, artistic events associated with photography such as trade shows, Edinburgh Fringe, London Fashion Week, and general networking at parties and shows around London. Additionally I scoured the internet and applied for opportunities as they came about. I also entered into photography competitions for additional networking opportunities.
Photography is not the type of business where one can sit idly and wait for opportunities to fall (particularly for a foreigner and a newcomer to the city). It’s all about networking, and recognition to build your brand.
- As a versatile photographer, what is your favourite subject to capture?
I love working with people. It’s an import part of my creative process. I love taking a concept and working with the client / team to develop a tangible piece of unique art.
- You’ve taken photos of everything from celebrity portraits to fashion shots, what are your top tips to getting the perfect shot every time?
Well first step is the acknowledgment that there is no such thing as a “perfect” shot. It’s something that I strive toward but the un-achievability of this goal is what keeps me motivated and interested. As for the quality of shots across such a diverse universe of practices it’s about communication. Communication with the client.Communication with the models.Communication with the rest of the photography team. This is what allows me to transpose the clients concepts into an artistic tangible form.
- What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career?
- How much of digital photography is in the camera settings and post editing?
Photography is like building a house. You can start with a house and add an additional room later if necessary. But you can’t make a boat into a house.
So, sure, you can use post editing and camera settings to improve and refine an image, but there’s only so much you can do. A quality image and vision is the fundamental basis of all good photographic work. There are no gimmicks and no shortcuts.
- Do you think photography is getting more popular, with the rise of editing apps and the likes of instagram?
In a word yes. But more importantly (and I have raised this point before), I think it creates a blurred line between the worlds of professional and amateur photography. Technically speaking, anyone (man / woman / child) can take a picture. That’s why it connects with us in a unique way and is an integral part of our best memories. That said, one must never forget the difference between taking pictures and professional photography. The skill, the technique, the approach, the outcomes are entirely different and it’s a photographers job to deliver a final work product to the market that illustrates this difference.
- What advice would you give someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Find your passion and never be afraid to redirect your life toward said passion. More than anything else, that is what drives me and keeps me where I am today.
- Do you have a favourite photoshoot or photo, if so what is it and why?
If I had to choose just one photoshoot, I would a series named “Timeless Crucible”. This series was part of an exhibition that I did in Edinburgh and London. This shoot took me over a month to organize and required a tremendous amount of focus, skill, and collaboration. I ultimately made a book of the work and it stands out as one of my more memorable photographic accomplishments.
You can see the behind the scenes video and the images on my website at www.sandravijandi.com