“In a way, I could say that my photographic identity would be ‘the messenger,’ always eager to capture the meaning and the soul of whatever is in front of the camera,” explains photographer Sofia Monzerratt. She’s a professional filmmaker, but also shoots as a photographer. In fact, she does something that’s pretty rare. Not only is Sofia a street photographer, but she’s also a fine-art photographer. This is a rare blend of both being a creator and a documenter. In her project, Generations, she tackles the idea of everyone trying to fit into society in a very creative way.
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“I’ve been on the healing journey of generational trauma and social conditioning for a while now, and I always wanted to find a way to express it visually like I’ve done in ‘Generations’ and ‘Fitting In.’” Sofia tells us. “Especially as a woman nowadays, breaking down all the conditioned beliefs and perspectives that we’ve been taught is a long and tedious journey, but the reward of immense, organic, inner freedom makes it worth it each and every time.” All this permeates in her work.
The idea of using a painted background and painting the people to be the same color to blend in shows off quite a bit about society. We’re all trying to mesh with society, but we’ve all also got something that’s different about us. That’s evidenced in our shapes, sizes, backgrounds, appearances, etc. But there’s also so much more on the inside. You can see that things change as you look at the age of the folks in the scene. One can only wonder if when the child gets older if they’ll be as vibrant as they are when they’re a kid.
The Essential Camera Gear of Sofia Monzerratt
- Blackmagic Pocket Camera
- Nikon F2
- Vintage Carl Zeiss Lenses
- Vintage Nikkor Lenses
“When it comes to my fine-art projects I happen to use my Blackmagic Pocket 4K, I know that might be a little odd for photography, however, I like the color flexibility that it brings me, the freedom to choose the exact frame I envisioned, and mainly, I like to accumulate video footage of my fine-art projects so I can also use it for film projects such as my “Visual Poetry” series. For Generations I shot it with my blackmagic pocket camera then I extracted specific stills from it, not film, for my other photographs, many are film but I wouldn’t be able to really tell you the type of emulsion that was used since I ship all my rolls to a third party photo lab. When it comes to street photography I use my film camera, the Nikon F2, or sometimes if I don’t have it with me then my phone does the work as well. When it comes to lenses I use the vintage Nikkor lenses that my father gave me and Vintage Carl Zeiss lenses that I got many years ago.”
Phoblographer: Why did you get into photography?
Sofia Monzerratt: I’ve always loved the visual freedom that a photograph provides. The ability to capture a moment, a concept, and freeze in time forever, in a way, photography feels like magic, and most likely that’s why I got into it.
Phoblographer: What photographers are your biggest influences?
Sofia Monzerratt: To name a few, I’d say that Sanja Marusic, Natali Do, Stephanie SIncalir, and more. I like the essence of their work, the use of color, and the delicacy of the possible message behind their visuals.
Phoblographer: How long have you been shooting? How do you feel you’ve evolved since you started?
Sofia Monzerratt: I’ve been shooting for about 7 years now, I’ve definitely evolved a whole lot since I started, finding one’s true voice is a journey that takes dedication and some few years. One of the main things that have changed in me is how much I now believe in my work, the confidence I have to execute it, and the new courage to expose it to the world.
Phoblographer: Tell us about your photographic identity. You know, you as a person have an identity that fundamentally makes you who you are. Tell us about that as a photographer.
Sofia Monzerratt: As a street photographer I mainly focus on capturing the essence of the people in the location, I want to expose the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful parts of humanity. When it comes to Fine-Art photography, my main intention is to portray a message that may be translated differently to each set of eyes that stumbles upon my work. In a way, I could say that my photographic identity would be “the messenger”, always eager to capture the meaning and the soul of whatever is in front of the camera.
Phoblographer: Natural light or artificial light? Why?
Sofia Monzerratt: I truly like both, it depends on the project and the situation. However, if I had to choose, I’d probably choose artificial lighting, maybe it’s my hyper-independence that kicks in and avoids depending on an external force to get my projects done, or maybe it’s all the years that I’ve worked as a gaffer in film shoots that has taught me the delicate beauty behind light and the sense of self-empowerment when I’m able to transform it.
Phoblographer: Why is photography and shooting so important to you?
Sofia Monzerratt: It helps me cope with my inner existentialism, it helps me express what I carry inside. Photography takes the weight of visual information within me and freezes it onto the physical world, making my spirit feel lighter every time I finish a project. Also, photography for me feels like a break from filmmaking which is my main focus, it feels good to be able to work in an art field where the shooting process is shorter and I can actually, freely, showcase my work more easily and reach more people (compared to filmmaking where we have showcasing rules due to festival circuits).
Phoblographer: Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter?
Sofia Monzerratt: Definitely more of a creator, my goal is always to project my inner world onto this physical world in any way possible, usually photography and painting make it easier since the realm of my psyche tends to lean more towards the abstract side. My lovely lighting gear and some camera accessories (such as filters) make the process smoother and they give me the freedom to be as accurate as possible based on the original vision.
Phoblographer: What’s typically going through your mind when you create images?
Sofia Monzerratt: It’s a little hard to explain, in order for me to fish an idea, I have to quiet my mind the most I can, then focus on external stimulators (such as music, feelings, the wind, or even sometimes people’s memories), then dive deeper into such subject until suddenly, when the silence of my mind allows the whisper of my soul to be heard, that’s when I suddenly know exactly what to do; either a vivid image or story pops up in my mind without warning, and the whole creation process begins where I try to be as loyal as possible to the initial idea.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into your genre?
Sofia Monzerratt: Fine-art photography, also known as conceptual photography, is one of the most precious genres to me. It provides the opportunity to fully express my psyche in a controlled artistic environment, it also gives me the possibility of connecting with the viewers and hopefully igniting questions that they’ve been meaning to ask themselves for a long time.
Phoblogrpaher: What motivates you to shoot?
Sofia Monzerratt: Self-discovery and self-love.
Be sure to follow photographer Sofia Monzerratt at her official website, photo portfolio website, and Instagram. All images used with permission.
Sofia Monzerratt’s Bio: I’m a professional filmmaker, photographer and cinematographer, born and raised in the Andes mountains of Venezuela, now based in NYC since 2015. I prefer to work on projects that carry a hidden meaning or message behind them, at the end of the day, art is about expression; and I have a lot to express from my own existentialism. If my art touches one soul, then my soul’s job here is done, but not over. I also truly enjoy painting, which is why lately I’ve focused some of my energy on fine-art photography projects like “Generations” or “Fitting In” that mix both photography and painting in one place. One of my favorite moments is hearing what the viewers interpret from my work, of course there’s never a right or wrong answer as such a thing can’t possibly exist in art, I like to hear what the viewer has to say just to see if by any chance any of my work has ignited a small distant part of their psyche in any way, as mine has during the creation of my pieces. Depending on the project, I usually use my film camera Nikon F2 or my Blackmagic Pocket 4K along with vintage Nikkor and Zeiss lenses to capture most of my pieces.