Images are powerful and the photographs we take aren't any different. Our recent talk with photographer Joana Jesus made us remember that. She shoots with certainty but leaves room for her audience's thoughts and interpretation. Her images are like snippets from her creative world and equally interesting reality. We won't keep you waiting, welcome to Joana's world in film.
Hello, Joana and welcome to the Magazine! What do you do and when did you get started on your photographic journey?
I just finished my degree in costume design in Porto. I believe photography has always been part of my life in a non-professional way. I guess that my interest in it was always there! It so happened that I met a guy during the summer of 2016, which became a friend of mine, and he encouraged me to buy my first film camera. Since then, I've been shooting more and more and creating my own projects and finding my own style!
How would you define photography? What's your favorite thing about it?
I would define it as something magical, eternal, mostly because it keeps your memories safe! it's an easy way to keep a moment from the past in your present. It’s a frame of your life that's still for all eternity.
We now live in a fast-paced world filled with modern photo gear and apps. Why did you choose to stay with film?
You do give more value to each photo you take with film and you actually start thinking what is worth a photo or not. I love the feeling I get when I wait until I get my pictures developed! It's always surprising (for the good and bad, but mostly good!) I can't relate the pictures I take with a film camera to those taken with a digital camera. It's different! The feeling, the colors, I don't know.
Also, I value every mistake that can happen when you work with film! Like sometimes, I take too long preparing the settings and the thing I was about to shoot disappear, but then I notice something that's even better to shoot (I love it when that happens!) Or when I use the same film more than once and the double exposures are surprisingly good!
Do you think your gear matters when it comes to creating quality content?
I think it can help, but the most important thing is actually the content. In my opinion, it doesn't matter if you have the best gear if you don't use it to your advantage. If you have an idea for a photograph, just do it with whatever camera you have! I believe that I don't have the best gear of all, but I do appreciate it and learn to do the best with it. That's what's most important for me!
We love the way you frame your shots especially the b&w images that feature light and shadows. How do you set up your shots?
Thank you!! Well, I guess it's something very intuitive for me. Photography is what you choose to show! Every time you see something nice to capture, you run against the clock because either the lights will change or if you’re shooting something or someone in movement, it will move in less than a second. You have to be very quick when deciding what you want to frame while setting all things up for the perfect picture.
What do you look for in a scene?
Good lights, unexpected things in unexpected places, and distracted people.
As a photographer, what would you like your audience to think or feel when they look at your photographs? What is it that you would like to communicate?
I like it when people can relate to what I'm photographing. As when I see a picture, I like it when it makes me remember me something and think if it's a picture I could imagine myself shooting. I think that each photograph I took transmits something different to me because of the memories I have, the intention I had, but it's funny when someone interprets in a different way and it relates to their experiences!
Sometimes people don't even pay attention to the subject you give more importance in the picture but fix their eye on something else! That's photography! A way to transmit something, the viewer will probably not feel the same as the photographer but the important thing is that he feels something!
What inspires you to create images?
So many things! Sometimes a different way home, sometimes a quote that someone says in the middle of a conversation, sometimes a song, a different light, an image, etc. I think that I plan my shots in many different ways! I like to observe things around. If I see something that I believe is a good picture, I just take it!
I have two main projects that I worked on, dark room 00:00 and desfolhado. The first is motivated by some drawings by Fredric Forest — the way he captures bodies with his line, and also by the surrealistic movement. Because I studied in a theater school, I had access to rooms with black curtains, so I took advantage of it! We turned it into a playroom for experiences and research!
The second one, desfolhado, it came with a challenge I made to a friend — I asked her to undress and stop by a tree near the sidewalk of a museum and pose. We actually decided to return the next day and explore the naked body in a public space. Almost a year after that, we did the second part of this shoot around Porto. O how we managed to relate the body with spaces, create beautiful images with a naked body in places of our routine!
What's your favorite subject to photograph? Why?
I guess I'm still finding myself in photography. I think it depends on my mood. I tend to include people, the energies you feel can depend on who/what you're surrounded with. I do not photograph people only when I do portraits, but when I do, I try to capture the essence of the people I'm shooting. I also have a thing with abandoned places! I think everything that I can tell a story with or relate to some memories is a good picture for me!
If you could shoot with just one camera and film, what would they be?
Well, since I started working with film I only used my Canon AE program, so I would stick with it! For the film, I really enjoy my last colored pictures with Kodak Colorplus 200 or Kodak Portra 400. For black and white, I would like to choose Kodak TX400.
What does a perfect day look like for Joana Jesus?
Somewhere surrounded by nature on a sunny day with people I love, good music, nice food, good vibes and nothing to worry about. Also, with my camera of course!
Lastly, what's next for you? Any projects in the near future? Please share them with our readers.
I'm moving to Italy for eight months to participate in a European Volunteering Service, working with social media and design. I'm very happy with it, for I believe it will be very inspiring for my work as a photographer! Can't wait for it!
We would like to thank Joana for letting us feature her images in the Magazine. All images featured in this interview are the property of the artist. If you're interested in her work, be sure to follow Joana on Instagram.