Sara Paiva Carvalho captures Lisbon's unique ambience by celebrating simple things.
Sara Paiva Carvalho captures Lisbon's unique ambience by celebrating the simple things.
Sara Paiva Carvalho felt like she was just drifting through life up until she shot her first photos with an analogue camera. They gave her instant sense of bliss that she wanted to feel over and over. Soon her life revolved around capturing the most intimate moments of her family and friends, and the colourful spirit of Portugal’s biggest city, Lisboa (Lisbon). Drawing inspiration from both photography and painting, Sara documents inspirational moments to create unique narratives that no one else could capture with the same precise detail.
When and why did you start shooting pictures?
You know that person who thinks of a million things to do with their life and never really accomplishes anything? Well, that was me until I found photography. That took place a few years ago, after I finished high school photography college. I haven’t really questioned why I went for it until today, but I guess it’s because I never felt this way about any another activity. I’m just happy that I’ve found one of my purposes in this world.
What is it you love about film photography?
When I started shooting the only camera I owned was analogue, so that’s one of the reasons why I love film photography so much. My course was mainly digital because of the costs of working with film. But once I finished, I realised that film photography was definitely something worth fighting for and I have made sure it’s part of my identity as a photographer. I can be really cheesy when I describe my relationship with film photography, but I want to put that aside and simply say that it makes me feel everything. It gives me goose bumps. I’m a fan of goose bumps.
What are you passionate about – interests, hobbies outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
Every one of my interests are photogenic: listening to jazz while smoking a cigarette, morning, afternoon and midnight walks in the beautiful city I live in, Lisboa, vacations with friends. These are my the ultimate photographic interests.
Who or what inspires your work? Any other photographers?
I’m an old school kind of gal so I search for inspiration from paintings to photographs, sculptures, nature and so on. But if I had to choose some names they would be William Eggleston, Friederich, Nan Goldin, Fragonard, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Stephen Shore. Lately, I’m developing also some inspirational feelings from movies.
What do you do for a living and how does photography fit into your life?
I’ve worked since I was 16 and now I’m fully dedicated to photography and new projects that could finally bring some light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t say that I’m living in the shadow, although I could be so much more. I have a lot of power to motivate myself to be better and not to give up, despite knowing its tough out there. Lots of wolfs for a few lambs. But I will succeed, hopefully through photography.
How do you share your work? Zines, books, exhibitions, blog etc? And what’s the editing process like for you?
I worked really hard to be one of the best in my photography school and I achieved that when my final work was chosen to be a part of the school exhibition. Besides that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of some online zines and blogs. I have my own Cargo Collective profile to share my frames. Editing is not my strongest ability but it’s a good exercise. If you have someone to do it for you, cool, but if you don’t you have to stay away from the emotional side and decide what works best with the situation in hand.
Are your photos staged/posed or documentary? Can you describe why you choose to shoot in this way?
I like staged photos because they can be what I want them to be and I like spontaneous photos because I can’t change anything, it’s raw. I really don’t know why I shoot this way, I just do. Obviously, you seek that image that relates to your inspirations, but by the end of the day you know you created something unique; something that didn’t exist before. Something made by you.
Do you process your own photos? What experience do you get from transformation?
I develop my own black and white film at my old high school. It’s a fun experience and if you take it really seriously you can achieve great results which are way more gratifying than Photoshoping. I intend to dedicate a good amount of my time to learning more of this craft. I advise everyone to go there at least once, you will definitely feel the magic.
If you had to take one photo that summed up your view on life, what would it capture?
I first thought of Frida Kahlo or maybe a Picasso painting but then I realised it would be all of my family in front of my childhood house with smiles on their faces, with me as the photographer using a big format camera.
Check out more of Sara’s work at her blog.