October 3, 2011

Interview: Gillian da Silva

I'm so delighted to welcome back the interview series with sweet & talented photographer, Gillian da Silva. When I first found Gillian's blog, I was mesmerized by her photos and in awe of the places she traveled to.  Our conversation dives deep into how she found photography and her favorite travel places.  Please meet:

How did you and your camera first meet :) Take me back to when you first became interested in photography?

Like most modern romances these days...we met online!  My camera and I first met in 2006 when I began to follow photography blogs I loved. I admired the colours, the light, and the beauty these women were capturing everyday with their cameras, so I was given a Canon DSLR that Christmas from my husband.  The rest as they say is history.  I was on a permanent starry eyed vacation with my camera always in my hand. 
Prior to that I was surrounded by National Geographic magazine as a young child; literally we had hundreds upon hundreds of back issues libraried in our home.  I was enthralled by the scope of the images, and even beheld those images then as a found treasure.  I lived vicariously through the lens of these freelance photographers, and it was through their eyes I was able to see the world without leaving my family room.  Two loves were born of those early days; my love of the photographed image and of the world.  I promised myself when I was older that I’d journey out and see it for myself.

Currently, what’s inspiring you to go out and shoot photos?

Pretty paper things! Coffee! Pillows! Walking in a great pair of boots and your favourite old sweater. There is infinite inspiration around you when you have a grateful heart.

Saying “Cheese!” is a no-no, I prefer candid or unplanned shots for people, and for objects or nature I love to use a tripod or a tree branch and really think about how I want the shot to look-using the best available natural light and focusing only on one thing so as not to confuse the eye.  I also favour my subjects on one third (the right side) of the frame; with the other two thirds of the shot happily supporting either with blur or colour.

I’m inspired by the small and beautiful details of our lives.  The jewelery we choose to wear, the pace at which we conduct our lives, the scent of a flower, the fading grandeur of a forest turning to gold.  I’m inspired largely by nature and her small details.  I rarely shoot big scenes, no cityscape's or such; I really rely on the small and overlooked moments or things that could easily be forgotten.
Moments are big for me.  I love to gather up the evidence of our lives that we may not have seen if not for the lens of my camera.  Colour, colour and more colour...I love having one major standout hue that just seems to sparkle like a gem in my shot.  I’m also a texture junkie.  I love wooden things, flowers, tiny blades of grass.  The tactile expression in photos is very appealing to me.

Do you carry your camera with you at all times or when the mood calls for it?

At all times!  Except yesterday. Funny you should ask this one; yesterday I went in to work and found myself with a gorgeous photo opportunity.  The sun was streaming in through a window in one of the main treatment rooms, right on to an Acacia wood bowl that held sugar for a scrub.  The contrast of the wood with the granules of sparkly sugar in the light was ethereal; yet my camera was at home.  I had actually forgotten it there (alongside my lunch bag) in my mad dash that morning.  Talk about bummed out! Even my phone had been left there in the side pocket of my lunch bag, and my iPhone is my camera a lot of the time too, allowing me to be creative at a moment’s notice if I see something worth shooting. 

Basically the mood for me is an organic one, in a perpetual state of “Yes!” when it comes to shooting the world around me.  Cameras to me are like lungs are to breathing.  It brings me that much joy! :) The photos themselves are a hieroglyph; a visual message from my eye to yours.

What do you feel most comfortable taking photos of?  If you could step outside of your comfort zone for a day, tell me what you would photograph?

I love being outdoors and shooting architecture!  But like the photo above, I crave a human element thrown into the shot. The building itself has all its intricate ironwork on the gate and a couple of rugs drying in the sun. Evidence of our existence, with the addition of a human element is such a divine expression.

Well I can tell you what I do not feel comfortable taking photos of, people at parties!  I was hired to shoot a gala last week; it was an indoor event with a formal feel to it.  There was live entertainment and there was a lot of black in the room.  It was raining hard, and it was dark outside.  I really felt the joy taken out of the experience as people were either in your face wanting their photo taken all the time, or when you came to their table they looked at you with disdain in their eyes because they did not want to have their photo taken.  I felt like a paparazzi; and it was a horrible feeling.  There was no creativity to it.  Flash photography always looks very harsh to me as well; there was no way around using an external flash at this event.  I did learn something about myself though.  I have zero interest in portrait photography, wedding photography or baby photography.  Which I’ve often times wondered about, given the popularity of wedding photography right now.

I would love to try more fine art photography, as that is what I’m drawn to.  I would love to try more romantic shots, as I don’t think I have a very romantic eye in my photography.

I know that you love to travel.  What country or place did you most enjoy taking photos and why?

One of my favourite places to photograph is Venice Beach, California.  There is such a varied landscape there, with so much interestingness all around.  The ocean, rugged coastline, little shops and big shops, restaurants and people and just plain craziness are all at your disposal.  You never know what you will see there!

I was lucky to travel to Jordan last year with my husband on one of Tara Bradford’s photography safaris.  Taking photos there was such bliss because the landscape, people and food were all new to me; I had culture shock and I loved it!  I was so very humbled to have had the experience.

Lastly, New England.  The bookshops, cafe’s and the ocean.  I really expanded my heart with a visit to Rockport, namely Bearskin Neck. I’ve wandered the shell shops and hiked the boulders near the bay to see sailboats coming in and lobster cages being unloaded at dusk.  There is magic to be found there.
Sorry, I guess that was three places...! Narrowing it down to one is tough.

Who are some of the photographers that have inspired you?

Tara BradfordTara’s photography is real; I love the use of light and her subjects are always unique and interesting.  She is one of the first people I ever blogged with and our friendship has grown over the years.  I’ve travelled with her to New York City and she’s been invaluable to me as a photography muse.

Lisa Field ElliotLisa has the romantic eye that I would like to cultivate. I love the way she sees things.

Irene Lamprakou: (who's work I have coveted on Getty Images) Irene’s work is exquisite; ethereal; divine.  The work is delicate and lovely.  I would love to see things the way she does as well.

**Gillian :) Thank you for sharing some of your journey in photography with me today!

Gillian da Silva is a photographer who would rather keep her day job as a spa owner and Aesthetician, in which she gleefully gets to use fresh fruit and flowers... all the while, helping the people she treats to be happy, healed and relaxed.  Photography is her way of escaping into worlds of smaller, often more unnoticed beauty.  She also works as a tour leader with the Women’s Travel Network, as she will be taking a trip {that you would be more than welcome to join her for-bring your camera!} to the magical country of Morocco in October of 2012. Gillian blogs her images and words at her new blog dreaming press. She is actively seeking a designer for her new online place, should you happen to know anyone!


paris parfait said...

Thank you for the shout-out, dear Gillian! It is a joy to see the photography delights produced by your unique vision. Those lucky ladies who accompany you on your trip to Morocco are in for a treat! xx

Gill said...

Bella thank you SO much for having me! I'm honoured!
I'm in such good company, having read through the previous interviews in the last few days. This photo project has lit a fire under my behind to get passionate about my passion again! LOL

Tara, you are right, Morocco will be filled with photographic wonder. xo

erleichda said...

very interesting . thank you for sharing : )

Graciel said...

Ms. Gillian is pure talent and kindness and generosity. She is one of the few who knows the way.

Unknown said...

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
The Outdoor Women