Sagar Manjarres is a Catalan fashion photographer based in Luxembourg but shooting worldwide (LA, NY, Milan, Barcelona…) with a passion to capture female beauty. He loves to explore how locations and models create a vision that slowly, explains who he is.
Which place do you call home?
Right now Luxembourg… but it’s not a life-long plan. Exploring more and more often the market in California. The goal was and will always be to move to Los Angeles.
Are you self taught or schooled?
Got some “classical” training that only made me realize how much I wanted it. What made a big difference for me was to follow, meet and collaborate with some of the biggest photographers worldwide (people I admired for years) … learning from all their abilities, their way to see light and slowly find my own style when I already was capable of the technical aspect.
How did you get into photography?
My brother is an actor and a model. Seeing him, helped to understand that this profession was much more than just pretty people moving around and I decided it was my “duty” to try to capture the person behind the camera and what they have to say. It quickly became my urge to express the artistic need of telling stories.
How long have you been a photographer?
Years and years. But developed my own style and my vision probably around 2010.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in capturing your image?
Not losing the level of energy and chemistry with the model if shooting conditions are not easy. I mostly shoot on location and often weather (or cold water) do not make it easy. I still think photography is more about capturing the feeling of the moment than the image itself… so keeping up the mood and level of commitment is the biggest part of the job.
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 and 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.
How would you describe your style?
Raw, straight-out-of-the-camera, story telling, fashion and implied nudity photography. I try to create stories and show how models are, not just how they look.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
Honesty and chemistry. Of course there are basic rules about how the brain sees an image, there are a hundred things to do to make people hold on and stare for few more seconds… but the most important part of it, is to create the feeling that the viewer really experiences a real moment that otherwise could not be witnessed
What does fashion mean to you?
It’s something that makes me dream and that I can capture to make other people dream… always keeping in mind that I use it as an excuse to shoot a model. I still never shoot for the items she is wearing, models and their energy are the center of my images.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
Well, I always have a lot of fun… one week ago I was jumping a wired fence, destroying my pants, to climb an unprotected ladder to a rooftop of a building five floors up (don’t look down, don’t look down!), only to realize there was no light available at all. I ended up holding my phone flashlight and shooting something really awesome. I’ve had models hanging from a piece of tissue attached to a tree on top of a waterfall… and usually my “behind the scenes” are the best part of my sessions. I am so lucky to work with models that trust me.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
Charles Lucima, Kesler Tran, Allen Birnbach, Dove Shore, Russell Brand… so many.
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
There is something awesome about national parks in the USA… Joshua Tree Park has always been my favorite, but last month I was shooting at a paradise-like, remote beach of Mallorca and fell in love with the solitude of the place and the clear water… can’t wait to go back!
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I am shooting with a Nikon d800 for years, but I fell in love with Sony A7 a few months ago and since then I have not used anything else! Love the size, image quality, electronic viewfinder… all of it!
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
99% of my work has been done with a 55mm prime. Zooms make me lazy… shooting with a fix focal length forces me to move and when I do… I see new inspiring things and new light.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I never use anything else… no lights, no accessories, so I guess the only accessory that would count is “whatever I find on the floor” and I can put in front of the lens to create texture. Glass, grass, sand, papers, plastic…
How important is photoshop in your final images?
99% of my work is straight out of the camera. Editing is only limited to B/W conversion or color temperature correction. To me, photoshop is an art of its own. I respect and admire photographers who are able to create gorgeous images through editing, but I work straight out of the camera as an artistic decision.
How important is a website and social media for your business?
Absolutely essential. Most of my work requests come through social media, mostly instagram or facebook. It connects the world in a way that almost any door is open.
Do you listen to music while doing your shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?
Yes, it sets the mood and helps a lot. Of course unless I am shooting at a location where I don’t want to get noticed. I always ask the model to provide her playlist, for me anything works.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
To study, learn and respect this form of art. To invest less money in equipment and more money on going to workshops, connecting with other photographers and making the best out of each opportunity. For sure shooting helps a lot, but taking the time to analyze why some images are better than others is crucial. Understanding what makes an image memorable is big part of the success.
What lies ahead for you?
In the near future continue shooting and continue teaching photography workshops. In the long run to focus more on model development and most probably, exploring the idea of opening a model agency… but always having my finger on the shutter.