Young photographer, writer and actress Isabella Dias' portrait photography is so encapsulating its almost dreamlike. With most of her subjects being female, she says, "my work focuses on female energy and the power and magic women exude all the time". I spoke to the young photographer about representation of female photographers, her photo series "Female Energy Project" and more.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from?
I`m an 18 years old photographer, writer, and actress born and raised in Belém, Brazil but I now live in Albany, NY where I study psychology and theater at SUNY. I have always been passionate about art and my creativity and imagination were always my favorite parts about myself. However, even though I love Brazil, its culture and people more than anything, I knew that if I wanted to have more opportunities I would have to move away from home. And I`m always pursuing my dreams and trying to create magical work that will touch people and highlight the power of women. I also am passionate about animals and nature, which is why I`m a vegetarian and am always trying to have habits that will help our planet! I`m also a feminist and activist for LGBT, immigrant, and POC rights.
Your photography focuses on portraits of females, is there a specific significance to this focus?
Yes, there is! I have always felt safer when near women, and as I grew up and started to understand how society works and how it treats women, I started to feel a bigger need to get in touch with women and celebrate them through everything I create. I`m a woman and this fact impacts every aspect of my existence, and usually not in positive ways, and the fact that there are so many others that feel this too or even worse, makes me only feel the need to create work with and for women. Therefore, with my photographs, I aim to create the perfect environment for my subjects to shine, so that no one can forget how magical women are. Honestly, I just love women and all our strength and power, and I aim to create work that will make it impossible for women and men to overlook the power females have always had.
Tell us about your journey into photography.
My journey into photography is not a very long one, since I have been photographing for only two years. I have always been obsessed with art and used to be part of plays and write stories ever since I was a kid, bu I only started to pay attention to photography when a couple of my best friends from high school loved to take pictures (mainly with their phones) so that they could post on their Instagram, and of course they also wanted me to join them, so they convinced me to create an instagram only to post photographic work instead of bad quality selfies. At first, I was just doing it because I wanted to have more things in common with my friends, but after awhile it started to become a huge passion for me, and everywhere I went I found myself searching for things I could photograph! It was the first time that I sensed my photographic eye, and this transformation- from seeing things normally to seeing them in a total different and much more magical light- was what made me be sure that I wanted to become a photographer. And ever since this I have been researching and finding new ways to make my ideas into reality, and I`m really proud of everything I have accomplished until now and everyone that I have met and collaborated with
How do you pick the models which you photograph? Can you share your process?
Honestly, I`m not sure. I do know that finding someone attractive and interesting for photos has a lot to do with the beauty standards that have been imposed on us, which is why I always try to photograph people that are very different from what we are taught is the “perfect way to look”. I want to portray people that aren`t usually portrayed in the media, and are always put in the background. There are a lot of faces that inspire me so much, but they don`t follow a specific face shape or eye color rule; honestly, I usually just look for people that have cool hairstyles, dress well, or have something on them that pops and make me have countless ideas! I usually look for people like this on instagram and see if they live near me and if they do I just contact them and hope for the best.
As a young female photographer do you feel that there is a lack of representation of female photographers? And if so, how can this change?
Yes, of course. There is a lack of females in almost every profession, which obviously doesn't happen because women aren`t capable of doing things. I believe that the best way to change this is to give opportunities to women when they are young, and to all women not only white and middle-class ones. Giving paid opportunities of jobs and proper education and specialization is more than fair and should have already been done. Corporations need to hear women and care about them and not only pretend they are “feminists” so that they can get good press. It`s crucial that women get at least a chance to become active parts of the job market instead of always being held back by society`s sexism. Let girls learn!
Can you tell us about your recent photography series "Female Energy Project"
Yes! All the photographs from the series aim to explore the incredible energy that lives inside of every woman. This project started because I`ve always felt very guided by my own energy, and very inspired by those of the women around me. And since my favorite thing to do as a photographer is to record the manifestation of female energy, this project is deeply important to me, and perfectly fits my vision of the world.
My hope is that women everywhere can feel touched by these photographs, and be inspired to get to know more about their inner energies and about those of the women around them. And be able to get in touch with themselves without fear, since society teaches us to stay away from our energies. Every woman part of this project is from my hometown in Brazil because I felt as if it was my duty to capture the powerful energy that brazilian women carry, and show it to the world through my art.
Does where you come from influence your work, if so how?
Yes, of course! Everything about my home country inspires me in some way. The fact that I have grown up surrounded by nature is one of the aspects of Brazil that most influence my work. All the different, and usually strong, colors of my country also can always be seen in my work, even when I`m not shooting in Brazil. The warm and colorful atmosphere that Brazil has is something that is already a part of me, and I`m always trying to create photographs that will make me feel a home-like feeling; and when they do that`s how I know they are good. I love where I`m from and it was where I learned everything I know now and where I first started my photographic work; and no matter how long I spend away from home, I will always carry a piece of it on the colors, plants, and ideas I use in my work.
What is the most important message that you would like to convey through your photography?
I would like to make people, especially women, to understand how important it is to get more in touch with their personal energies and power. To see more the colors and magic they carry inside of themselves. And also, the importance of seeing the beauty that is present in their everyday lives, on the places, plants, landscapes, and people that they might overlook and that if seen with different eyes, could become truly magical.
Photography: Isabella Dias
Interview: Phendu Kuta