Nádia Maria is a contemporary photographer currently residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her work has been featured in National Geographic and Paris Vogue. After featuring her stunning ethereal portraits in my previous posts Heavenly Bodies and Transformations I contacted Nadia who kindly agreed to an informal interview. Further information about this exciting young talent can be found at her website http://www.nadiamaria.com.
Many thanks to my friend Jason Lock, himself a professional photographer, for his invaluable assistance and suggestions in relation to this interview.
AS: Your website gives the indication that you are professional trained, but by obscuring the informative text and concentrating on the creative element it suggests that inspiration is more important to you than technical acumen. Is this the case for yourself?
NM: Training has its importance, or rather, construction has its importance. However when I want to give concrete expression to an image that has suggested itself to my Self I have to, it a sense, deconstruct my training. Only then can the image be set free.
AS: Do you think that studying the creative arts is important for inspiring/aspiring photographers?
NM: I think everything you study, question, observe, believe you know, is important and collaborates with the image.
AS: Where would you say the major influences come from for you photography?
NM: Art, literature, meditation.
AS: Which artists and writers have provided you with inspiration?
NM: It depends a lot upon the moment. I’m always discovering new things, but I have some favourites: Rilke, Fernando Pessoa, Sylvia Plath, Alejandra Pizarnik, Borges, Murilo Mendes, Khalil Gibran, Hilda Hilst, Manoel de Barros, to name a few … I find that one thing leads to another, a piece of music will lead me to myths that leads me to philosophy. There is a whole universe of inter-connected inspiration out there.
AS: In your own field what photographers you admire?
NM: There are so many, but for their complete bodies of work it would be Sally Mann, Masao Yamamoto, Francesca Woodman.
AS: Of the photographers you mentioned I would be most familiar with Francesca Woodman (I have written an article called Angel about her), whose work leaves me with a sense of awe. When did you discover her work and is she a conscious influence?
NM: I discovered Woodman while I was at school. I have always enjoyed long expositions, and when I studied photography I used to make the exercises all “wrong”. I had an open shutter craze and one of my teachers said that I should take a look at her photographs; that I would identify with them. I felt an affinity, but in a different way than my friend thought I would.
I definitely admire her work but she isn’t a conscious influence. Woodman reflects the world that she saw and I reflect mine. Sometimes artists worlds cross but they are private reflections of particular kinds of self-knowledge.
AS: Where does that particular kind of inspiration come from in your work?
NM: From reflection, internal dialogues, dreams, the void…
AS: Do you create a narrative before creating the images – or – is it the case that you create images first then work a narrative around the picture?
NM: Usually there is a narrative before the image, but sometimes the images give me a narrative, however it is always a leap into the abyss.
AS: Do you use any analogue process in your work or are you totally digital?
NM: I use both.
AS: How does your use of analogue influence your work?
NM: I have a greater affinity with analogue as it what I started with, but it is becoming harder to work with today here in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My photographic thinking is built on analogue so even when I am using digital I keep what I can from the analogue process.
AS: When using digital, are you imagining the final image before actually capturing the image?
NM: Yes I usually see it in my mind beforehand, however sometimes there is an element of chance where the unconscious manifests itself.
AS: There is a major up take in photography due to the digital world and the access to smart phone technology. People consider themselves ever more creative and explore the world of Instagram etc – do you think that this hinders or promotes the conceptional/experimental genre of photography?
NM: Well, everything has its positive and its negative side, don’t you think?
AS: I do certainly agree that everything has a positive and negative side. What are the positives and negatives with the ever increasing popularity of social media on the arts?
NM: The most striking positive I think is the increased visibility and reach a work can have, and all instantaneously. A few years ago that wasn’t possible. The negative side, and unfortunately I have experienced this myself, is the devaluation of creativity, a lack of sensibility, a levelling effect.
AS: Where do you see your future as a photographer?
NM: Who knows where this will lead me. Maybe the photograph will cease to exist as it now. Maybe I will no longer feel the need to be a photographer.
AS: And finally (and this is an old chestnut) what advice would you give for future generation of image makers?
NM: Whenever I am asked I always quote Jung: “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” That about sums it all up.