Q: Can you describe yourself?
Sonia: I’m 20. I grew up in Amsterdam, but right now I’m living in a smaller city in the Netherlands for university. I like to take pictures, but I also like painting, drawing, and playing music. I’m studying industrial design and engineering. It’s my first year. I like it, but I’m also still thinking about going to art school and studying photography, but I’m not sure.
Q: How long have you been into photography? How did you get into it?
Sonia: Three and a half years ago, I started my Instagram. For the first few years, I had a simple digital camera. My Instagram used to be more like a blogger Instagram— pictures of coffee, of my outfits, and things like that. But, a year and a half ago, I bought my first DSLR camera, and that was the moment when I really started taking pictures of my friends and some self-portraits. About one year ago, I posted a message on my Instagram asking if there was anyone who wanted to shoot with me. Some people responded, and I took photos with them. So, it was then when I started taking lots of my own pictures. I’ve been interested in photography like this for a very long time, but I just didn’t do it for myself until recently.
Q: What draws you to photography over other things?
Sonia: You can take a picture quickly and capture something really beautiful. Of course with painting, you can also paint really fast, but my style isn’t like that, so it takes a lot more time and practice than photography. With photography, I just— I don’t know— if I see something beautiful, I just take a picture. Also, through photography, I’ve been able to meet a lot of creative people. A lot of that is through Instagram, but yeah I really like to take photos with a model and to meet these people.
Q: Do you shoot solely with film? Always 35mm?
Sonia: Lately, I’m shooting with a lot of film. Actually, since 2018 has started, I’ve only been using film. But, in the past, I haven’t only shot film, but I really do love it. I’ve only used 35mm so far. I love the grainy look of 35mm. Also, I like that you take more time to take a photo when you’re shooting film. I really focus. For example, about two weeks ago I had a shoot, and I did the whole thing on film. I only took 24 pictures in 2 hours, so I was really focused and I like that. It’s hard to explain, but I like that. When I’m shooting digital, I just take so many pictures, then I have to choose which one I like, then I edit it. And I usually end up editing it to look like film— give it more grain. I just really like the look of 35mm. I also like that you don’t see the pictures right away. It’s a little surprise when you get your pictures back. Sometimes, you forget what kinds of photos you’ve taken.
Q: What are you thinking about when you’re taking your photos?
Sonia: Lately when I’m doing a shoot, I plan it before since I haven’t been shooting for a very long time with models. Now that I am, I want to prepare a bit. I look for examples of light that I want to create or some poses I like. But also, I sometimes just come up with ideas while I’m shooting. Because I’m shooting a lot of film lately, I don’t have a lot of chances to take pictures, so I want to be prepared. Sometimes when I’m just shooting with friends, I don’t have a plan and we just see how everything goes. Posing models is something I find a little difficult because I’m not shooting with models from agencies but more just people I’ve met through Instagram. I find it difficult to direct how they should look, but it’s usually just in the moment I see it and ideas come.
Q: On your website, your work is separated into “Portraiture,” “self-portraits,” and “vibes.” I feel like with all your work there’s a sense of comfort/intimacy with the subject matter. The way you shoot the angles/distance from the people makes me feel like you have a close relationship with them— that feeling is transmitted through the photos. Is this something you strive for? Or, does it happen naturally?
Sonia: A lot of people I’ve met on Instagram have become good friends, and I’ve taken lots of photos with them since meeting, so it’s comfortable. But when I’m first meeting someone new, we usually meet to talk or drink coffee to get to know each other. If you don’t know each other, and you just go take pictures right away, it’s really hard to feel comfortable. But also, the people I’m shooting with are really good models. Even though I don’t know them very well, they don’t feel awkward in front of the camera or with me. I really like to meet random, or not random because I’m usually following them on Instagram, but new people and to go take pictures with them.
Q: Where do you take most of your portrait style photos?
Sonia: My friend has an empty studio that I’ve been going to to take pictures. I’ve been using it sort of as my studio also, and in there you can create lots of different kinds of pictures that you wouldn’t be able to while shooting outside.
Q: Do you have photographers who inspire you?
Sonia: I’m inspired by a lot of photographers I’ve found on Instagram. Here are some of their usernames: @nishediary, @tinasosna, @jimmymarble, @paulini, @lalovenenoso, @huiuh, and @lukasz_wierzbowski.
Q: Do you develop your photos or get them developed? Is it something you want to learn how to do?
Sonia: I haven’t in the past. I’d love to, but I just haven’t. Next semester, I’m going to take an analog course, so I’ll learn a bit. I think it’s just developing with black and white film, which I’ve never really shot with. I’d like to try that out because I think that it’s really beautiful. Once you learn how to develop, you’re doing the whole process. I like the feeling that you’re doing the entire thing by yourself.
Q: Do you see yourself pursuing photography as a career?
Sonia: Currently, I’m really thinking about going to art school. I took a gap year before beginning at my current university, and in that time I took a pre-course at the art school. I liked it, but I chose my university because I missed the sort of intellectual side since I also really like science and math, these more technical things. It seemed like a good combination of creativity and the more technical part. But now, I don’t have much time for photography, and I really miss it. I’m still not sure what I want to do next year, but I hope I make a good decision because I think in the future I want to be more professional with photography. Sometimes, I think you can do it without art school, but sometimes I think that it’s really nice to just be in art school and to be surrounded by creative people and to be given lessons. I’m still not sure about school, but I do want to make a career out of my photography. That’s something I’m sure of.