Who is Sagar Manjarres ?
Photographer born and raised in Barcelona, discovering the world with a camera. Studied Physics, Computer Engineering and Psychology end enjoying not working on any of them. Doing everything I do in life the most intense and passionate way possible, even if not everyone around me wants to follow. Smoking more than I admit, and suffering chronic insomnia unless I sleep with the right person next to me. I stop and stare at people often feeling the rush to shoot everything that inspires me. I would give anything for the people I love, regardless of how often that broke my heart.
Which place do you call home?
I pay a loan to a bank in Germany for a house I rarely see, if that counts. I think at this point I would call home few people around me, the ones that keep me sane. Physically I am more often in hotels and airplanes than anywhere else. I am one of the lucky photographers that work all over the world, beautiful but exhausting and adding a constant home-sick feeling to my life. I don’t feel home anywhere, but I feel home when I am anywhere with the right people.
Are you self taught or schooled?
Self taught until I saw I needed to find that “thing” that would make my work move to a new level. Then I started joining photography workshops from people I admired and that gave me what l I needed… seeing how your favorite artists create what you love is impressive… and helps you find your way.
How did you get into photography?
I always saw cameras home (my father was into photography), my bother is an actor and I’ve been surrounded by artists since I was a kid, I studied music for years, went through a drawing/painting phase, also writing; so I guess it was just one more thing I tried but got me addicted. There is something unique about the way you can connect with someone through photography. Always had the prettiest girlfriends, that kept me motivated, hehe.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in capturing your image?
When I see something that I know no one else saw before. I ask and force models not to pose, to be just real and to let go… and when you see that half second of pure real honesty and you click.. is such a magical feeling.
How would you describe your style?
Emotional photography, raw. All about capturing how the model is, not how she looks like. Keeping it all as simple as it can get so nothing can distract attention from all the soul we put on every frame.
Was there a breakthrough moment in your career?
There have been few, always linked to meeting the right person that makes me fall in love with photography again. I’ve been ready to quit few times and then someone in front makes me realize why I do this. I had that feeling when I shot (what for me was my goodbye session) beautiful Mara Gavril for the first time and I understood I needed to continue even if it was only to see her again. Lifechanging breakthrough when I started sharing projects with wonderful Melanie Kroll and forced me to get creative 24/7 to be at her level… lately spending time and finding new inspirations and colors with Emilie Dussetier all over the world has changed me again. My career direction changes often, I get better, and it’s always thanks to people very dear to my heart.
How do you select the models you collaborate with?
I can only work with people I will like on a personal level and, after years, it’s easy for me to see it immediately. I need to connect, to have that “old time friends” feeling, I need to care about and love the person in front… otherwise I can’t really work, regardless of the looks or Instagram followers.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
When you capture something unique based on the chemistry and intimacy created through the camera. It’s such an amazing feeling when I know the model’s boyfriends get jealous to death because we’ve been able to get from them something so real, passionate and unique…
We know each of us has someone or something that inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
I really admire and respect female beauty, movement and passion… I do my best to capture it in an elegant strong way. I am lucky enough to develop a good friendship with most of my models and then inspiration comes from wanting to spend time creating something beautiful together, something they wouldn’t do with anyone else.
How do you define beauty?
Something you will remember forever or will change people aorund. Definitely not following any standards, not depending on eye color, symmetry or measurements. It’s that thing we all have, one way or another that makes us unique. For some people is obvious, some others we need to dig deeper.
What does fashion mean to you?
It’s actually an excuse to shoot models. It changes constantly, sometimes I understand new trends, sometimes I don’t get it at all… it’s part of the business and I’m happy when I get to shoot new collections, but for me everything on an image is just meant to make you focus on the person. If there is no soul she can be wearing the highest best fashion items ever and I wouldn’t be interested at all.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
Falling on pools is a recurrent thing, when I work I don’t look around. Crazy bad when a bird in San Francisco took the memory card I was changing after more than 9h of work and flew away. Recently, getting the car stuck on sand in the middle of the desert while I was with Melanie. I left her in the car with water and started walking miles of sand dunes at 45C to get help. When we met again (god knows how she managed to find someone in the desert to help her and come rescue me!) she had a beautiful tan, the biggest smile ever (I was red and looking half dead) and we got to start working one of the best sessions I will ever do.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
In the past Charles Lucima was a big influence when I was trying to find my style, same as Dove Shore when I was trying to find light. Nowadays, I am immensely lucky to share projects and a very close friendship/brother feeling with Jean Noir, one of the most inspiring photographers in history. We talk about photography, life, love and our business 24/7, and it has changed my life and work. Additionally, having someone you respect calling you at 3am to say you your last image is not good enough or your need to take a break is priceless. It expanded my vision like never before.
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
My favorite sessions are always the ones I do with my 3 or 4 closest friends on my livingroom at home when they come visit. But if I have to think of a place, I am very inspired by every little corner of Capetown. I could shoot there any day of my life.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I was Nikon when I started… but a couple years ago, by chance, grabbed a Sony A7 and, since then, I haven’t used anything else. For me it is, by far, the best system. Small, handy, reliable, fast… it would be difficult for me to find something that suits me better.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
All my work for the last 1.5 years has been 70-200mm, always f4. Before, everything was 50mm 1.8 for a couple years. Most probably 2017 will be 85mm 1.8. I change my lens every so often to avoid getting too comfortable, but then I stay with that one regardless of what I am shooting.
Analogue or digital?
Digital. I shoot film for fun a couple times a year but I do not really have the time to do it correctly.
Do you prefer flash or daylight?
95% of my work is available light. The other 5% is available light balanced with one of the 2 Rotolights I own… but I am for sure a “natural light” kind of photographer.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I carry with me a piece of glass to create light effects and, lately, the small but powerful Rotolight Neo… continuous LED light that helps me when I want to get creative and natural light doesn’t help.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Even if I’m always very proud of my images “straight from camera” Photoshop is essential to create color looks. Every time I work I have a clear idea of how I want the image to look… and it’s not always possible as location looks. I do not modify bodies, I do not really retouch models… but I do create the tones that available light doesn’t give me.
What are your thoughts on instagram and facebook and how important is a website and social media for your business?
Social media is critical, of course. Without a platform to showcase your work is not really easy to find clients. Anyhow, for me Facebook is totally dead. It’s been over a year I do not pay any attention. Tired of seeing how reach is killed by then unless you invest money on ads. Instagram still works, but it’s getting more and more unstable. Endless numbers of fake accounts all over, and all the engineering behind what is the best time to post, what kind of content the community wants is exhausting. Few months ago I decided to post whenever I feel like, whatever I want. No hashtags, just getting organic reach and blocking everyone who doesn’t seem like a legitimate follower… it’s working well.
Do you listen to music while doing your shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?
Absolutely! Music is essential for me, to make models understand what I want. Every look for me lasts maximum one song, music dictates the rhythm and saves me a lot of talking. I create a new playlist for every model. I use a lot of Jacob Banks, Layla, Alessia Cara, Halsey. Funny enough, all my model friends know how important it is to me and I receive dozens of messages a week like “I know you will love this song to work”… makes my life so inspiring.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Your gear won’t bring you inspiration and money can’t buy you taste. My advice is to forget about the equipment, take anything able to record images and try to tell stories. Invest your time getting to know your models and then capture something that wouldn’t exist without you both together at that moment. Study the images you like, until you understand what makes them special instead of trying to replicate them. Don’t use lack of light, time or good models as an excuse for not knowing what to do. The same way to don’t speak when we have nothing to say, we shouldn’t shoot if we have nothing to explain… find the reason that moves you to shoot and just go for it. Talent and dedication will pay off, sure.
What lies ahead for you?
Continue teaching workshops is for sure there, sharing the passion. And of course, keep on working with beautiful inspiring friends that I find along the way. In mind, also, to open a model school for talent development…
” Thanks to Sagar Manjarres “