Renny Man chats with the extremely talented photographer (who also studied and works in film production) Gabriella Achadinha. She’s been providing SA with the most immense visuals and we needed to know how she got to where she is, and how she does what she does!
RM: Which do you enjoy more, film or photography? And why?
GA: I love working in both forms. I studied film production so that will always be close to me. I find that Behind the Scenes photography is the most satisfying as it allows me to be doing photography yet still be on film sets with crew.
Model credits: Kid with Glasses
RM: When you get an idea, what are your processes to bring this idea to life?
GA: The process revolves around writing down said idea, as soon as possible, and scouting visual references that bring life to various elements I would want in the image: styling, mood, grading, subject positioning references. Writing a list of what props or wardrobe would be needed, as well as what ideal weather conditions I would need (since I generally shoot outdoors) also helps in solidifying the idea into action.
Model credits: Ceena with Gabe
RM: You say that reoccurring themes in your photography are landscapes, still moments, and women. Could you explain why you’ve taken a liking/preference to these themes?
GA: There’s something calming about the imagery of a natural landscape and perhaps that’s why I am drawn to it.
With capturing street photographs of individuals in solitary moments of introspection, I’m not exactly sure how it came about, but there’s always been something captivating about persons in scenes of chaos who sit alone and are clearly in their own mental space, semi-oblivious to what’s going on around them. I find something I can very much relate to in those scenes. With regards to my focus on photographing women, I have always had extremely strong bonds with women in my life and I enjoy collaborating with female artists / actors / musicians in creating an image that depicts them as they see themselves.
RM: Do you have a favourite city/place to snap pictures?
GA: Not necessarily, every city has its own character and attraction however I really enjoyed shooting at night in Naha, Okinawa – that city is so alive and beautifully distinct.
RM: How would you like to see things change with regards to women empowerment in your field and/or in general? And are you doing anything currently to support the movement?
GA: The film and photography industry is slowly but surely shifting towards including women in positions of power and creative decision-making, however I do feel that there is still (and very obviously when you go on set) the issue of not enough persons of color in these positions. The industry, as with most others in South Africa, is rife with exclusivity based on where you grew up, where you went to school, who your parents knew – this makes it extremely tough to even get a chance to prove your worth. Whenever I have the chance to select crew I always aim to include individuals I know are extremely talented but often get left out. I was on Jenna Bass’ (South African film director) film production ‘Flatland’ recently and it was refreshing to see her select crew that were women and persons of colour, in order to create a film set that was actually representative of our country’s demographics.
Model credits: Louise
RM: How did you turn photography from being just a side hustle, into something more professional?
GA: I studied film production, I’ve never studied photography. It was always a side hobby and eventually I realized I was happiest when photographing and then decided to venture into it. It was and is still not easy, I work in wardrobe in the film industry as well as doing various photography jobs to make ends meet. The only problem with choosing photography is that it is not a cheap career choice, your arsenal of camera bodies, lenses and equipment is super expensive yet often necessary when dealing with high-end jobs and clients. I would advise anyone wanting to pursue it to practice as much as possible, watch as many online video tutorials as you can, listen to all the photography podcasts – basically sponge up any information you can. Personally speaking, starting the journey with a 35mm camera was extremely important as you can get a decent body and lens for an affordable amount (as opposed to digital cameras where you often do need to put the bucks in to see the results) and it forces you to pay careful attention to settings and composition as you’re limited shot wise.
Model credits: Katlego Phajane
RM: What are your goals going forward?
GA: To photograph as much as I can. I have a photographic series I’m currently working on which has been in the works for years, so I’m glad that it’s finally happening – it’s a social commentary on South Africa, and is unlike anything I’ve done before, so that’s exciting!
Visit Gabriella’s website to check out the rest of her jiggy snaps.