GMARO & Interview with the genius photographer Sofia Vergara Brunet.
How does your background affect your work?
The trajectory and the background of each artist are reflected in the art that we produce on a daily basis. Talking about my personal journey; my classmates, my mentors, my teachers they all have inspired me to create what I do today. From my professional to my personal background, it all affects the work I create today. I’ve had the blessing of traveling from a young age and the cultural impact that each place has had on me has been opening my imagination and my ability to get close to people which is a very important thing for a photographer, to make a connection with the subject you have in front of the camera. Also, the photographers that I’ve worked for, each have taught me different techniques so I came up with my style after learning from all of them. Lastly, growing in Mexico has also been a crucial part of my work; Mexico has warmth, color and it’s full of culture, I like to think that my work has some of this qualities.
Who’s work inspires you to push the envelope creatively and why?
I have lots of people whose work inspire me but if I have to choose which work pushes me the most in my creativity would be the work of Marco Grob, Steven Klein, Dan Winters, and Lindsay Adler. I admire these photographers’ work in so many aspects, they all have a way of making their images outstanding. Marco Grob and Dan Winters, both portrait photographers, are always blowing my mind, the way they light their subjects is so unique and each one of their portraits is different and intimate. Their portraits are simply powerful; the mix of intimacy, lighting, and execution is remarkable. Steven Klein, an influential figure of the fashion industry, wow, his images.. so bold and the color of his work, just wow. And Lindsay Adler, another wow. I always find myself looking at her ig and her new work, it’s constant, bold, and it’s fresh and it’s always keeping us creatives up to date and inspired.
Give me a brief description of your career trajectory – professionally trained or not, opportunities that led to breakthroughs.
At the age of 16, I left my hometown, Jalisco, Mexico and moved to a small town near Toronto called Stratford. My dad gave me my first camera back then, and that’s where it all started. I started taking pictures of everything from landscapes to friends to objects. Soon after that, I began to look into photography schools. At the time, Brooks Institute was one of the most prestigious photography schools in the world so I packed my bags and moved to Ventura, California where I studied my bachelors in professional photography. I was surrounded by creatives, amazing professors and mentors from whom I learned an incredible amount.
Having 1 year left, the school closed its doors. I was moved to another school in LA where I finished my studies doing online classes. While finishing school, I had the opportunity to go do a photo internship for Annie Leibovitz Studio in NYC and that’s where my professional career started going in the direction I wanted. I was taught by the very bests. I soon started to make connections and the hustle in the big apple continued. I worked as a freelance photo assistant for different incredible photographers and had the amazing opportunity of working for Lindsay Adler.
While assisting, I was also shooting in the studio and practicing everything that was taught to me. During this time, magazines started publishing my work and I began feeling more comfortable with the work I was producing. Two years later, I moved back to Mexico and have been shooting campaigns and fashion editorials, making connections with many talented fellow creatives while traveling and doing jobs in different parts of the world.
What is the best way to describe the working relationship between you as a photographer and your stylist on any given project? How important is that related to the success of that project?
Having a good relationship between the photographer and the stylist is key. You have to find the right stylist for the shoot and built a relationship so that we are all on the same page of what we want to achieve. It is extremely important to work as a team, and communicate so that everything can come together and look perfect.
When it comes to photographing a styled shoot, the photographer is the one capturing the scene and it is the stylist who has the job of making that scene (subject) look beautiful and portray the mood the shoot has. How important is it related to the success of the project? It is everything. Once the idea and the moldboard are created, the stylist has to use their creativity and piece together perfectly planned outfits with everything set in mind. So yes, communication is the key and finding the right stylist for each shoot is what makes an image outstanding. It takes time to find the right stylist and having a good relationship with a couple of them is basic.
Maybe one stylist won't be the perfect fit for one job but another one will. This doesn’t only apply to the stylist but to all of the crew, from makeup artist to photo assistants to hairstylist, etc. Everyone has to be on the same page and communicate to make the shoot successful.
What makes an image iconic?
If we look back at the images that have been carried throughout history, from the Dorothea Lange, “Migrant Mother “ to the “V-J Day in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstaedt, they all have something in common, they are timeless and have resonated so strongly with people that they become iconic. They all have a meaning or have a message to give to people in a certain period of time that it becomes important in history. At the end of the day, it is the message that an image conveys what makes it powerful.
When you see an image where the lighting, the set, and subject are incredible. that’s great but if there is no message, the image won’t become iconic. I think every photographer strives for that, that someday one of our images will make history, become iconic.