Extension Of The I Interview With Sonya Sanchez Arias – A Phenomenal Mobile Photographer
Welcome to another new series of interviews and insights that we are running on theappwhisperer.com. This new section, entitled, Extension Of The I, goes deeper into the photographic aspects of mobile photography. It delves into the lives and thoughts and influences that our artists experience from their photography. No other mobile photography website reaches the depths and emotions of the mobile photographers as we do in this new series of interviews.
We think you’re going to enjoy this, a lot. Today, we are featuring Sonya Sanchez Arias. We recently interviewed Sonya for our A Day In The Life of series, if you missed that you can read it here. Sonya is a professional photographer and graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in photography. Sonya also specializes in Styling with her Commercial and Product Photographer husband, Fernando. Sonya opened her own Commercial Studio in 1993 and has won several photography awards for her work.
Each image is titled with the apps used to create it in sequential order. You can find all the links the the apps mentioned at the end of this article.
Check out the full interview below.
(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘Extension Of The I’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up).
Sonya Sanchez Arias
First Things First
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – After The Fire – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – How did you get started in photography?
SSA – Traditional Photography
I’ve always been around photography my grand father was a talented amateur photographer and always assisted Fritz Helene (Mr. Rollei, the Rolleiflex master) on all of his assignments in Trinidad and other Caribbean islands. As a young child I always remember being photographed by my grandfather and uncle ‘Fritz’. Photography and portraiture always had a strong presence in my home and images by my grandfather Leon Ache, Fritz Henle, Norman Parkinson and Noel Norton have always influenced me.
But I really became involved in photography as a way of helping me through a tragedy in my life…when I was 13 my best friend and brother died tragically at age 14. I was devastated, and completely shut down emotionally. My family was falling apart because of the tragedy, and I asked my parents to send me away to boarding school…..anything would be better than staying at home and trying to deal with the emotion and deep sorrow I felt. It was at boarding school that I discovered photography, a friend invited me to join the camera club and at age 14, I finally found a way that I could communicate and explore my feelings about the world around me. With photography I could be alone with out feeling lonely and I could express myself creatively and openly.
From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be a photographer…..I finished High School worked on my portfolio and went on to Rochester Institute of Technology RIT to further my photographic education, graduated, met my husband while working at a studio and opened our own studio in 93……so photography has always been a part of my life…and always will be.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – All That’s Left – iPhoto, Simply HDR
SSA – iPhoneography
I know this may seem strange to some people, but before I discovered iPhoneography the last thing I wanted to carry with me when I went out was a camera. It’s probably because as a Commercial Photographer and Photographic stylist. I work with and around cameras of all formats so much.
But then, I’d go to places and want to kick myself in the ‘butt’ for not having a camera with me, and missing so many photographic opportunities.So I’d make the best of the situation, and shoot what I saw with my iPhone, and purely by accident, I’ve learnt that the images I make this way can be surprising and beautiful. In my commercial photography I am expected to be in control of everything that goes in front of the lens at all times, there are deadlines and ‘Rules” that I dare not break….so it’s actually really liberating not have to worry about equipment, lenses, filters, depth of field, apertures or shutter speeds.There’s something quite magical and unexpected that takes place when you compose the image and wait for the iPhone and it’s Apps to interpret what you see, and I’ve found that shooting this way can be extremely therapeutic and invigorating!
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Blue Rocker- Hipstamatic, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – Who and what are your influences?
SSA – My mother Judy – one of the most creative women I have ever known. She taught me to see the wonder and beauty in all things. My talented husband is another one for sure (the love of my life)
Trinidad – I was born and grew up on the beautiful island of Trinidad, so the culture, color and vibe of island life is a huge inspiration to me – The people, Carnival, the music, they all influence the way I see the world.
‘Meiling’…a great friend of my mother’s who is one of the top fashion designers in the Caribbean….she allowed me to tag along on one of her fashion shoots for a new collection when I was 18 and then ended up choosing all of my images for her PR and marketing. I shot for her for many years after that and some of my favorite images are still from photo shoots I did for her.
But by far the biggest artistic influence and inspiration comes from an remarkable artist named Peter Minshall, my mother worked closely with him for many years. Minshall is a Trinidadian Carnival Artist (mas-man) he is best known for his designs for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Barcelona and Atlanta summer Olympics and Salt Lake City Winter Games….his work will forever be an influence in my life.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Cafe Chair – Hipstamatic, AutoPainter II
JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?
SSA – Many things….I think more than anything…I’ve taught my self to be open to the possibilities.I like to focus on things that people would normally not pay any attention to….I’m particularly attracted to color and unusual angles….and I do like to bring attention to things that have been tossed aside or forgotten….found objects and simple things that fill my everyday life.
For me using my iPhone is an uncomplicated way to capture a moment, communicate my vision, and express the beauty I see in the simple everyday things around me.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Drinking Glasses- iPhoto, Moku
JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?
SSA – That there is Beauty in all things…..there is a quote by Wayne Dyer that sums up the way I feel about my subject matter: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Fishing Seine – iPhoto, Moku Hanga
JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?
SSA – I think a lot of it is rooted in my attitude towards my advertising work. In Commercial Photography so much time, effort, technique and money goes into every shoot, the adds gets published in magazines, brochures, catalogues etc. but after the public gets the message most of it ends up in the trash. So I suppose when I shoot with my iPhone. I’m attracted and sympathize with things that no one seems to notice. In each image I try to give my subjects the attention they deserve ; )
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Floral Daze- Hipstamatic, Grungetastic
JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?
SSA – Well people are always fascinating for sure. I love the way people dress and choose to express themselves through fashion….but I’m very uncomfortable having my picture taken so I get overly sensitive when photographing people on the street. It’s different when I shoot models or portraits at the studio…I’m totally comfortable and we both know why we’re there, and what needs to be done. Photojournalism – that’s a whole other thing – a type of photography I have huge respect for. I’d also like to start shooting still life in the studio and testing a mixture of natural and artificial light.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Freak Show – Leme, iPhoto
JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?
SSA – Ooh there are so many…..Irving Penn top of my list for sure…amazing at people and products…so creative, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh, Dorothea Lange, Jerry Ulsman, Annie Liebovitz, Jay Maizel, Robert Mapplethorpe, Steve McCurry, Mary Ellen Mark, Hemut Newton, Brian Duffy, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Well you get the picture, I’m a big fan of photography.
As far as my favorite iPhone photographers go there are quite a few, too many to name here but they are all on my IPA
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Gear Head – iPhoto, Moku Hanga
JC – Henri Cartier-Bresson is in many ways, the Godfather of street photography, even in the 1930’s he enjoyed using a small camera for discretion in order to capture people and tell a story – do you feel this way regarding mobile photography?
SSA – The iPhone is an amazing tool for this type of shooting. Lets be honest you can just stand in an interesting spot, with earphones plugged into your phone and have a conversation with your self while taking pictures of everyone that passes you by….you no longer have to be obvious and hold a camera to your face to make an image…you can have total anonymity now. It’s quite amazing actually!
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Ice Cold – Decim8
JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?
SSA – Well I can’t undo what I’ve leaned in my formal training as a photographer. But sometimes it can definitely get in the way. Over the last year I’ve really learned to loosen up and not try to make everything look so perfect. I’ve found that the real essence and creativity of shooting with my iPhone is in the experimentation, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. The unpredictability, of not knowing exactly how the image will turn out, that mystery for me, is part of what makes the process so enjoyable and addicting.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Key West Chair – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – How has your photography evolved?
SSA – Not sure how I feel about the word evolved…..it’s just different. For me, shooting with my iPhone, is an uncomplicated way to capture a moment, communicate my vision, and express the beauty I see in the simple everyday things around me. No assignment, no deadline, no restrictions, just me being me, experimenting and being visually free.
All For One
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Layered Leaves – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – Many of the great photographers, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson described only shooting images for “themselves”do you see this attitude with mobile photographers?
SSA – I cant speak for others…but in my case…definitely yes! I shoot because I need to….I have to express myself my way…I shoot what feels good to me. My Commercial work is a job, much more restrictive and precise. IPoneography is freedom, therapy, a visual journey.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Lilly Pads – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?
SSA – I do so in my life. I always try to look at things from a different point of view and at work I always try to push the boundaries….as far as my iPhoneography goes…I do take risks visually but I don’t overdo it with the apps…just one or two or maybe 3 at the most.
My original vision seems to get lost when I use to many apps…it starts to get strange…like a mad scientist creating Frankenstein with a ‘bit’ of this and a ‘piece’ of that. I do push the envelope with color though…I’m definitely a color geek – a rebel of sorts – trying to break away and add a splash of color to the blurry, scratchy, weathered, retro B&W images that I see so much of….don’t get me wrong I love B&W, I just prefer to express my self in living color…I’m an island girl what can I say. LOL!
Favorite Image – Traditional Photography
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Earthlings – Shot on film, scanned, Vintage Scene
JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?
SSA – It changes all the time.
There are 2 images from my Earthling Series that I really love and keep revisiting over and over ‘Precious Metal’ and ‘Earthlings’
I’ve apped them several different ways and I like them all.
Once an image is strong to begin with, the possibilities are endless.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Precious Metal – Shot on film, scanned, Vintage Scene
Favorite Image – iPhoneography
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Sunflowers – Snapseed, Moku Hanga, iPhoto
Probably my Sunflowers…I shot it at the supermarket while I was shopping….it’s just simple, uncomplicated and magical to me.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Mums The Word – Hipstamatic, Vintage
JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?
SSA – Unfortunately after 20+ years my Commercial photography is just a job….Our studio is good at what we do, our clients know it – but that’s not enough anymore. I need to mix it up with personal work that is important to me. I don’t want to sound ungrateful I make a great living as photographer and photographic stylist. But in Advertising, my job first and foremost, is to make other people look good, and to find a way to make their vision or product come to life. The purpose of the work is to sell the subject/product not the photographer.Thousands of people see my work everyday yet no one will ever know I created it. That’s just the nature of the beast it’s never about you its about them, and that’s alright, but it’s just not enough anymore.
That’s why it is really important as a commercial photographer to make time for personal work, not because it makes you money but because it feels right and matters to you.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Ninjas And Nature – iPhoto, Moku Hanga
JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?
SSA – There’s usually a moment of magic where I know instinctively the shot is good – it just feels right – but I think that’s more about me and my intuition than it is about my subjects.
Post Production (Processing)
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Pages – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – Do you have a special post-processing style?
SSA – Not really – Asking me about my style, is like asking a child what they want to be went they grow up – it’s too early to ask me that. I’m a recovering “Professional Photographer” so there are so many rules I still need to break and a lot more therapeutic Apping that I need to test before I settle on a style….I still consider myself to be ‘newbie’ in the iPhoneography arena I’ve barely scratched the surface there’s so much more for me to learn….I’ll let you know what my style of choice is as soon as I figure it out ; )
Tips For Processing
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Red Gingham Pillow – Moku Hanga, iPhoto
JC – Do you have any tips for processing?
SSA – Have fun! Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously! Be yourself no one can do it better!
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Rock Away- Hipstamatic, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?
SSA – On my iPhone and iPad its iPhoto….I like to organize every thing into albums, by location, subject matter and date. I shoot first, then organize, then enhance or tweak my exposures or lighting. Then usually a day or two or even a month later I process and app to my heart’s content, knowing that all of my images are exactly the way they need to be prepped for the best results when processed with my chosen Apps.
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Roped In – Moku Hanga, iPhoto
JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?
SSA – From the very beginning there have always been those photographers…who break the rules and turn the viewers expectations upside down….that will never change regardless of the technology. What the iPhone has done is put a powerful tool in the hands of so many creative thinkers who until now could not find an affordable or practical and efficient way to express their point of view visually.
In the Professional Photography market digital photography has caused a lot of panic and stress….there is this new found attitude that anyone can shoot and anyone with a camera can be a professional photographer. If that were true I’d be out of business!
As I’ve said before the camera is just a tool, it’s the mind, the heart and the vision that makes the photographer.
35 mm Film Days
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – That Voodoo You Do- iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?
SSA – Nope…been there done that! There’s no need to gobackwards….that’s where I began.
But if I had to choose between the early digital camerasthose monstrous scanning backs and triple capture old Leafcameras, I’d definitely choose my old Canon A1 for sure.
But as long as there’s an iPhone in existence, I’m going to own one ; )
Links To All Apps Used And Mentioned In This Article
© Sonya Sanchez Arias – Tired – iPhoto, Moku Hanga, Photo Artista Haiku
Additional Stunning Images
© Sonya Sanchez Arias -Behind The Pet Shop – iPhoto, HDR +
© Sonya Sanchez Arias -Flight D2311 Memphis – Leme, iPhoto
Great set of images, and using apps that I am exploring with now. I liked the phrase “recovering Professional Photographer” Class myself there too and agree, trying to forget an awful lot that is ingrained as a “traditional” photographer.
Well done Sonya.
Thanks so much Gerry….iPhoneography is a new way of shooting for sure.
I’m so glad you liked the interview.
Thank you so much for this interview Joanne.
Sonya thank you so much for sharing your work with us.
The colour and vibrancy of your images is a joy to behold.
iPhoneography has become my anchor in the stresses of daily life and seeing images like yours certainly let me know that I have anchored myself exactly where I need to be.
Thank you again.
God bless Joanne…The App Whisperer…is by far one of my favorite iPoneography blogs. There always so much good information and so much that you can learn.
I’m glad you liked the interview Robert….thank you for your comments.
A wonderful interview. After living in the Cayman Islands for 21 years, I can certainly see the island influence in her bold beautiful work. A delight to the eyes!
That island influence never leaves: “You may leave the islands……but they never leave you” ; )
Amazing!!! Thanks for the inspiring interview!
So proud of my talented wife. Great blog!!!
Nando thanks for always encouraging me to tap into my Cre8tiveChild …..BTW it’s all your fault for buying me my first iPhone ; )
Thanks for sharing. Your words and work are truly inspiring.
CC!! It was a real pleasure to read all about your creative process,your work flow and your background. I’ve always loved your work and the fact that you are brave enough to use bold saturated colors… I find you completely inspiring and I’m thrilled that we are friends.
Joanne, thank you for featuring Sonya, I enjoyed her interview even more because of your smooth transition between subjects and the whole presentation is very attractive.. Congratulations to both of you!
Mad respect for you Tommy….so glad you’re a fan of color too!