Friday, July 11, 2014

Featured Photographer: Meire Todao

Meire Todao

"I have been an English teacher since the 90s and I have worked with photography at the same time. In 2010-2012 I took a break from teaching and worked a lot with commercial photography only, but then in 2013 I missed being inside the classroom. I decided to teach English (and photography) full time and work with authorial photography only."

"I like deciding what, how and when to photograph...most of the time I like being alone and sometimes I spend more time observing things than photographing them (especially when I photograph still life, locked inside my room). I also like planning some photo sessions with friends of mine who agree to pose as models. Then I think of a theme or atmosphere...I research and create the props ( I love making headpieces ). I do not like anything to look glamorous or perfect. The "mistakes" in my photos are not accidental. Sometimes I do take blurred and out of focus pictures on purpose."

"The good thing about commercial photography is meeting people and exchanging ideas and experiences. But at the same time I didn't like it because I feel that I didn't exercise my creative side very much. People who hired me would explain what they wanted the photos to look like and then I would click away. Although I stole some really good portraits during my lookbook shootings, that was much less interesting to me. One day I decided that I wanted to go back to teaching and said goodbye to commercial photography and I have never regretted that. Freedom is good!"

"The people I photograph are professional models and friends of mine. I like "stealing portraits" during fashion sessions and turning them into small pieces of art. I sometimes ask my friends if they want to collaborate with my authorial projects and they are very enthusiastic and supportive."

"I have always been influenced by the work of Lillian Bassman, Sarah Moon, Roversi and all my blur, textures, out of focus scare the people in the city I live. Here they like photos that are in complete focus, super sharp, super clear, no shadows at all. I would say my work is not really accepted by the people here....they think my work is "weird". I have heard some criticism, some people saying the photos were not "happy". Some photographers also criticized my work behind my back...but I am all right with that."

"First I tweak the colour, brightness, and contrast in Lightroom and then I add the textures with ThumbsPlus. It's basically like adding a layer in PS and choosing the blending. Sometimes I use textures I have photographed and sometimes I use textures that friends share online. The texture I apply is the one that fits my mood at the moment I am working on the photo. I never use PS...Sometimes I do not even remove red spots or wrinkles at all. I never never remove beauty marks or freckles or create that artificial flawless skin I see in magazines. Somehow crystal clear images of people disturb me and do not hold my attention. I absolutely love "ruining" a technically perfect photo with textures!"

"My advice to people who are starting is: follow your own path, do not compare yourself with anyone else. People tend to get really frustrated when they think they aren't as talented as any other photographers. I always say that they should be better than themselves and learn in their own pace.  And another important thing (maybe one the most important things ever); when I decided to work with photography, one of my professors gave me a priceless advice which I follow strictly, “You should never pull the rug from under somebody's feet and you should be humble every single moment of your life.” This applies for everything in life, but I think this advice is golden if you want to be a photographer."

"Every time I photograph someone I try to explain the mood I want to convey in the photos and this is the hardest thing to get, especially if the models are not professional. One thing I like doing is not preparing them for the shot itself. I love getting 'in between' shots...this is when the models are more relaxed and less self-conscious. But I guess the secret is talking and explaining to the model what story I want to tell. I like photographing nonprofessionals best because they don't try to pose all the time. I hate that femme fatale look that is so popular."

"I started photographing when I was about 12. I got a Kodak Instamatic as a birthday present and I fell in love with photography. I have taken film photography all my life (I only got my first digital in 2003) and this is why I love grainy, blurry, light leaks and all the features only film can give us. I don't care about equipment at all. I do not own prime lens and I can make do with whatever I have in my hands."

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