Caroline Sachs began photography to journey outside herself as young woman from Brazil. How many people admit something like that? She's studied in London, New York City, and is now back in São Paulo shooting theater stills and formulating plans to publish a book.
Vice: How is your summer going?
Caroline Sachs: Oh, no summer here! It’s winter in Brazil. Although it's not nearly as defined as it is in America or Europe. It's crazy; like yesterday it was very hot during the day and all of sudden it dropped to eight Celsius. Go figure!
Oh that’s right! I should have known. You went to London for school, right?
Well, kind of. I went to college here in São Paulo, graduated in graphic design, but I wanted to go traveling so I sort of used this short course in fashion design at Central Saint Martins as an excuse to leave. I had already been shooting for a few years. Then I liked London and stayed there the whole year. In the meantime I applied for an MA to start the next year, this time in photography. When I got my offer letter I was all set to move to New York for a few months, so I did, and got a deferral for the next year. I wanted to stay abroad; it was not because of the money, especially because we pay a lot more than English students.
Sounds good to me. And your photography work. Do you give yourself a lot of assignments or do you get commissioned for things? Like, editorial type work. I read you were doing still-life photos for the theater.
Well, when I first started there were only a couple of photography courses in my city, and I took one in documentary photography. They teach you to choose a theme, a project, something you can maybe even follow for years. On my search for that I photographed a bunch of things from a penitentiary, a few circuses, a mental institution for old ladies, a fishermen village on an island. You know, usual documentary type stuff. Then my graduation project for college was a bunch of self-portraits, where I designed the clothes, made them, chose locations, makeup, everything. And finally I got to my main body of work, which is actually my life, my travels, and the people I love. In the meantime I started doing stills for one of my friend's short films, and this same friend worked for this amazing theater company. I met the director and have been shooting all of their plays for three years now. Now that I’m actually settled somewhere I've been shooting portraits and a bit of fashion for magazines here too. But I still do theater, film, and my own work, which is what I love the most.
I assume that even as a photographer you have to make some money. You're not exempt from the laws of life.
Exactly! I’m still getting my personal work organized to try and make money out of it. I just sold a couple of prints the other day and that was exciting. And my final project for the MA was a book of my work, which I loved doing, loved the whole process. And now I'm working on two follow-ups to make a little trilogy and try to get it published and exhibited.
The photos I've seen seem very intimate and innocent in a way. What are you looking for?
It's a bit hard for me to explain, because when I'm shooting it's very organic. I shoot everything that catches my attention for some reason, maybe it's an expression, the light, the mood that person is in. One funny thing though is that I unconsciously only photograph people I like in my personal work.
So if you don’t like someone, they’re out of the frame!
There was this one time we went to a friend's farm and he brought a friend I didn't know and didn't like much at first. So there were pictures of everyone there but her. I only realized later when I got my film developed. Now she is my good friend and she always throws that in my face.
And nature is what your personal work is now, besides the theater work and all?
Not nature, really. I still photograph my friends, but a lot less often because we don't get to see each other that much and because the group is pretty much gone. And because, like I said, I’ve done a lot of traveling on my own or with friends I was not so close to, I ended up looking somewhere else for what I found in my loved ones, which after a lot of thinking and feeling I figured was silence. When I was doing the stills of a feature film last year it hit me!
The nature photos represent what once filled them. Or something deep like that.
I was shooting a lot and was not happy with any of it, it just felt like those pictures were not mine. And one day I realized it was because there were always too many people, too much stuff, waaay too many elements in all of them, I could find no peace, no silence and I realized that's the element I have always thought united all of my pictures, that's what I felt when I looked both at the portraits and the landscapes, but I could never quite put my finger on it. I guess that's what it is that I missed when I looked at the production stills, silence and maybe a bit of peace too. And I guess when I can't have my loved ones around I end up finding this silence, and even a bit of melancholy, out there, in landscapes.
And you're OK with this?
Well, yes and no, I mean, I love the landscapes, but they make me sad too when I look at it all together, in all I shot in the past year. I miss the people in my work, I miss the group and their faces on my pictures, but don't take it the wrong way though. Hehe. I feel like this conversation is taking a funny turn. It’s not like I’m miserable or anything.
Do you have any funny stories?
Yeah, I guess I just made you my therapist for a few minutes, as I still understand all I just told you, so I kept on talking and talking here.
Fine by me. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?
I don't know. Yeah, interview/therapy, I loved it!
That'll be $100, please.
RACHEL FAE COLEMAN