In my introduction post I link an interview I gave for a website that lately has been down, so people can get to know what I’m all about. And that’s pretty much the only insight I give to my approach to photography and Art, and since it doesn’t work most of the times, I’m guessing most of you have no idea what the hell am I doing or why am I doing it that way.
Well, this might shed some light on the matter. If you have anything else you’d like to ask me, feel free to do so!
From Oporto to the world, Luísa Cativo has been gracing us with her visual perspective on the world for some time now. As herself or as Captive Louise, she chooses to stay true to her aesthetic beliefs instead of following the easier path.
What is your first photographic memory?
The first picture I remember, or at least the first that struck me, was a photo of Michael Jackson in a magazine that my mother was reading. I remember feeling very intrigued; my mother was telling me Michael Jackson was in that picture, but I just saw a very pale lady with long, dark, curly hair and these thin red lips. I had a very different idea of the King of Pop in my head.
When did you realize that you wanted to register the world around you?
My interest in photography settled in very, very gradually.
In the beginning it was a hobby that my cousin inspired me to have when I was about 14 years old. It started as something introspective and almost secret – even though the results would most likely end up online in places like Deviant Art, the legendary Fotolog or in my Livejournal.
I’ve always had some trouble with my body image and self-portraits helped me get a better perception of myself. They also taught me how to mold the way I look or the environment around me without leaving my room.
I discovered throughout the years that what I was really drawn to was the possibility of creating and/or register settings that caused a reaction in me, and photography is the ideal instrument to achieve that.
Is there any theme or subject you would like to photograph?
Oh my, so many! Visually, I really like the Turkish baths, the markets in Morocco, I like the delicate atmosphere of the Kyoto gardens or the visual excess of NYC – and right now I just know all of these places virtually. I could go on forever, naming beautiful places where I would love to photograph someday. When it comes to people, there are half a dozen models that I would love to be able to photograph someday, like Sigrid Agren that has the looks of a baby deer, Devon Aoki – oldschool, I know – or Tomek Szczukiecki, whom in spite of the unpronounceable name has an incredibly piercing gaze. I would also love to photograph people like Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj because they don’t take themselves too seriously, or my teen idols: Shiina Ringo and Paz Lenchantin. Azealia Banks also looks adorable. I would love to photograph so many people that I’ve never even met.
You’re 24 years old and your résumé shows you’ve worked with Vice, Zoot and some other publications. Have you ever given some thought about it?
I usually don’t think too much about the meaning of these projects and collaborations; I see them as platforms where I get to share my work.
It’s kind of like fishing; my work is the bait I throw into these platforms that are the equivalent to a little pond – the more famous the magazine is, the bigger the pond and consequently the amount of fish in them – and then I see what I can get out of it. Whether it’s new contacts, projects, or allowing more people to know my work; I never end up empty handed.
You have an alter-ego: Captive Louise. What is the difference between Luísa Cativo and this other character?
I wouldn’t call it an alter-ego, it’s a more public, predictable and linear part of my personality. If I were to be turned into a cartoon or a comic book character, the result would be Captive Louise.
She’s crazy about ponies, cats, puppies, rainbows, unicorns, shiny or fluorescent things, ghetto fabulousness, extravagant people and that entire semi-fluffy and kitsch universe, slightly sarcastic and ironic at times. She doesn’t take herself too seriously as well.
Your photos sometimes bare a certain crudeness, other times they seem to explore a more ethereal side… In what way do you describe your photographs?
My photos satisfy my visual needs, they’re a bit hedonistic. Hence not being commercially viable, especially in Portugal, where there’s pretty much no demand for my kind of visual language.
I try, within my skills, to do what I like to look at. Whether it’s something dreamy, or dirtier and grainy, or something very spontaneous; what I value above all is the authenticity – not only in my photographs but in every means of artistic expression. I don’t want to work on pictures in which I cannot be myself. I’d rather work at something entirely different to earn a living than sacrifice my visual language in order to make money out of photography.
In your portfolio you have fashion shoots, concerts… What draws you to fashion and music? Why not other themes?
My work besides hedonistic is also almost entirely based on empathy.
In the vast majority of magazines, editorials have a purely commercial purpose related to brands, seasons, trends and all those things. I love fashion photography ever since I was little and the editorial format works for me because it’s like illustrating a story using a set of elements with an almost infinite possibility of combinations that will provide different results on a visual level – through these elements we create characters that we put in a certain environment.
Photographing concerts is not something I usually do, only when they fall within the context of another project – like the one I developed for Milhões de Festa. I proposed this project to the organization and it consisted in portraying the festival through its audience, with a symbolic amount of pictures from the concerts. I had never done anything like that, nor it was something that had appealed to me before, but I felt there was something special about that festival that I wanted to portray in some way. After Milhões de Festa a new interest was born, I was eager to do more work that involved music and musicians.
I like the idea of making tangible these two worlds; mine and theirs.