Living the dream means not knowing if it’s Monday or Saturday according to photographer Andrea DoSouto.
Let’s just get straight to the nitty gritty. What sort of business do you shoot on? A lot of analogue? I shoot mainly with my Nikon D700 and Nikon D3s for digital, Canon AE-1 for film and a bit of point and shoot and polaroids. I definitely never walk away from a session without shooting a couple of rolls.
And what sort of aesthetic do you get from those sort of cameras that you can’t get from say, my consumer point and shoot? Well when it comes to action, I definitely need certain tech qualities that amateur digital cameras or point and shoots don’t have, like high sequence speed, autofocus to movement, good quality on high ISO. As for analog it’s just an option, there are way better cameras than the one I use but also more expensive and delicate like the Contax’s, but I’m a gypsy going around all the time and not really too worried about taking care of my equipment so I like to think my Canon AE-1 is my war camera, it goes through everything and has never let me down.
Did shooting skateboard lifestyle just kind of fall into your lap living in Barcelona? Definitely, I got my first apartment when I was 19 between Macba and Parallel, so it all happened naturally that I started shooting my friends skate. At first just as a favour to capture their tricks because I was studying photography and I had a camera. It turned into the most amazing and fun subject and lifestyle I could ever imagine.
So it was an easy environment for you to break in to? Yea I didn’t really try, I was in my comfort zone, my neighbourhood and with my people, so it was mostly the people from other countries that came to film being more surprised to see me in every spot with a big crew documenting all that. When I first started, my boyfriend at the time, Juliano, was an amazing skater from Brazil and he basically taught me how to shoot action, what was right and wrong and what was looking better, also other photographer friends like Julian Deniev helped me in the more tech part, lighting and all that, so I was basically adopted from inside, I made a lot of awesome friendships. I travelled a bunch and in a European way it was all smooth and naturally progressing. It took more time for Americans to understand my purpose and obviously I had my ups and downs and I got questioned a lot but in general it wasn’t that bad. I guess when your work speaks for itself there’s not much room for non-acceptance.
It’s easy to make something look good that is
already beautiful but I prefer to find the beauty in the grime.
How do you find the scene differs from Euroland to L.A.? I feel there’s way more options in LA professionally, actually in general in the US, than Europe. In the industry I work most of the companies are from here, they have bigger budgets and more projects, they are more open to accept proposals, they have the ‘yes’ attitude instead of the ‘no, we can’t’. But on the another hand stuff like work ethic, respect, compromise, company values and realness I prefer Europe. My heart is always divided.
Being linked up to skateboarding you shoot a lot of guys, but you’re just back from a roadtrip with girls. How was that? I’m more of a tomboy myself and I never really spend much time in girly environments, so it was definitely a bigger challenge than I thought. I’m used to skater guys, and a lot of DIY trips, these guys are hard asses, down for whatever, easy going, sleeping anywhere, shower when they can, get their tricks done, get frustrated but then they’re over it again after ten minutes. I’m generalising now, there’s always exceptions. But because of that I’m mostly like that myself. So in terms of organising this trip for the girls I realised you can not operate the same way than with the guys, some girls actually get mad if they can’t shower once or twice a day, they aren’t down to sleep anywhere, they don’t like unplanned stuff, there’s lots of feelings and lots of holding on then exploding later. Again, I’m generalising here.
But you know that at parties the girl’s toilets are often more fucked up than the guy’s. So you’re saying girls aren’t super gnarly on girl-only roadtrips? They can be naughty but nah I will not say gnarlier than the guys, not from my experience, I have seen and experienced some really gnaaaaaaarly shit traveling with the boys hahaha.
Actually when you sent those first pics over what made you decide to send exactly those ones? You shoot really nice portraits of women too. I studied photo journalism and that’s my favourite part of photography so I guess when people ask me to make a selection of photos for an interview, my most loved work is documenting skateboarding, it’s where I feel most comfortable that I’m bringing something different to the table. It’s easy to make something look good that is already beautiful but I prefer to find the beauty in the grime. Don’t get me wrong, I only shoot women that inspire me and that provoke feelings in me but that’s just another side of my work I still didn’t master yet.
You got a lot of shine for that Paul Hart nollie photo. What happened after that got published? Yeah that photo went hard. It’s funny, I never go to shoot the photo thinking it’s gonna be a specific way. Basically that photo was published in the Kingpin photo issue after Transworld couldn’t publish it because I’m not staff photographer. Afterwards it was one of the ten most popular photos of the year, a lot of people were talking about it and asking who shot it when I went back to Europe that summer. A year later I got a mail I was in the running for best skate photographer at the Bright Awards, that was crazy to me.
Do you think 90 percent of life is just showing up? I do think so, it’s always a matter of luck too, you never know. I think I’m good and bad at it. On one hand I’m lucky that a lot of events happened in my life but I’m really bad at networking ‘cos I don’t really care that much to make an extra effort if I don’t feel it’s right even if it’s convenient. Sometimes when it happens naturally it lasts forever. Let’s just say I always show up at the right place a second late, if that makes any sense.
Do you do any developing yourself? I used to do it because when I went to college for photography digital was still not a thing, so yeah I used to have my own B&W lab at home and I would do it at school everyday. I don’t really do it anymore, I travel way too much to keep up a space, but I love to any time I have the chance. I used to like to paint my photos with the chemical when developing them selecting certain areas of the exposure, that was cool.
How about your personal development, do you often look back at old stuff and be like ‘holy shit this sux’! Or is there something you like in the earlier work? I think you always progress for the better so old work isn’t as good as new work but sometimes certain gems you hold onto in your harddrive that you thought were no good but become your favourites, and it just took time to appreciate them. And sometimes it’s more for the moment than for the photo’s quality.
What are some of the continuing themes in the work you deliver to clients? When you work for clients you normally adapt your vision to their needs, keeping your style. Recurring themes in my work in general would be street kids and teens, grime, feelings, human interactions, intense looks. And I keep myself a lot on the B&W side.
Tell me about client work compared to personal? Do you get time to shoot personal projects? Well one pay the bills the other one fills my soul. I’m lucky enough to work with what I love so it doesn’t feel like work most of the time and I have a lot of freedom when I shoot in general but when you shoot without having to please anyone else but yourself it just feels different. I do have time for sure, I know how to reserve a lot of free time for myself. I’m a slow producer, I’m not creating all the time, but when I do I can go hard for a month and then just breath for another month, fill myself with new experiences and I get motivated again, I’m not in a race.
What’s the dream? Are you living it? All the years I didn’t have to be on a 9 to 5 job but traveling the world, not knowing if it was Monday or Saturday, meeting new people and having fun. Most likely yeah I do live it.