We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandra Grattarola and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandra, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
One of the things that make me risk it all was not thinking that there was a risk. If we don’t take risks life would be so boring, I think that living in a city like New York implicates taking many risks and that’s one of the things that I enjoy the most.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally? What set you apart from others?
For some reason I had always have the facility to talk to people and make them feel confortable since I was a child. I consider that this has been a strong key in my career. When you make your models feel confortable you can see it in your photography.
I think one of the toughest things in my career is having to photograph celebrities or famous artists and make them feel confortable. An example is when I had the opportunity to photograph famous Jazz singer Gregory Porter, we had a great connection and the photos just came up so naturally. He said to me “You have a great energy” and I have to say he has it too. This shoot was so amazing that I even forget I was working.
Also getting to apply my fashion photography eye and style in every project I have even thought the shoot is not fashion gives my photography something particular. I have a very delicate and at the same time strong style. I try to be very clean and I like to empower sexiness in a very curated way.
What you are most proud of or excited about?
I am very proud that I found a passion it makes life much more easy and fun. Also I am someone who always questions everything because I like to understand the direction and purpose of things. So one of my biggest questions when I started my career was. What is the spiritual purpose of my career? Why fashion photography is my passion? So after a long process finding the answers for this is something that change completely the direction of my career.
I discover my passion for fashion photography during a University assignment where we had to shoot a story. I instinctively decided to choose one of my best friends to do her make-up, hair, and styling. During that photoshoot, for the first time, I felt that special connection. It was just the model, the environment, the light, my camera, and me in perfect syntony. I just couldn’t stop shooting.
This connection has grown over the years as photoshoots evolve into a massive production of unimaginable artists working together; where voices behind me start rising, excited to see our work captured and embodied on an image by me. This feeling gave me the strength to leave my country since I was 19 years old to travel around the world, exploring my passion for photography and making my dreams come true.
But, it was until I got an invitation as a guest speaker at a renowned University that I realized the value of all those years of hard work and overwhelming learning experiences. Which transformed into a power to inspire younger generations to discover their “why”? Find their passions, never give up, practice innovation, and fulfill their most desired dreams.
There’s were I got my answers.
To me photography is a complex process where sharing and knowing the art of others is what keeps you actively creative. It is the most complete method that I’ve found to represent everything I wanted professionally and also emotionally. It is a journey to connect and inspire people through my art.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy?
It wasn’t easy but I think I am in a special moment of my career were things flow in a very natural way, I think is the hard work and experience behind that took me to this point. Part of were I am now is because I always have a goal and I worked towards it every day little by little and the most important is that I only listen to myself and choose the advices I wanted to keep from people I admire and encourage me. I still remember those friends who told me why I wanted to live in New York or in Europe if staying in Mexico was more confortable. Well sure it was the easiest but If I had stayed in my confort zone and never challenge myself I wouldn’t be living my dream as I wanted it.
I still have a long way to go and I am still learning and growing but I know that the most important is to enjoy the journey.
-The lessons I learned?
1. Having a passion makes life more exciting
2. Setting goals and working everyday towards it will make it happen
3. Never listen to everyones opinions cause it will only distract you from what you want
4. Great things take great effort
5. Learn to enjoy, love and know yourself
6. Be indépendant that will give you one of the most valuable things “Freedom”
7. Travel and getting to know different cultures will open your mind
8. Never give up if something doesn’t happened as you wanted it, you need lessons to succeed
9. Find people that inspire you and learn from them
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a fashion & beauty photographer based in New York city, besides of my passion for fashion photography I love to travel and see how my career develops around the world.
After my double degree on science of communication in Mexico and audiovisual media in Spain, I obtained a diploma on professional and characterization make up artist in Madrid. Once I got my make up artist diploma I finished a master on fashion photography at E.F.T.I. school in Spain Having well known people in the fashion photography industry as mentors such as, Miguel Reveriego, Javier Vallhonrat, , Eugenio Recuenco, Hunter&Gatti (just to mention some of them).
Through out my career I’ve have collaborate at 3 of the most prestigious events within the industry and with brands and designers like, the New York, Milano and Shanghai Fashion week, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, MAC Cosmetics.
I have photographed celebrities and artist like Anna Wintour, Sofia Vergara, Anna Dello Russo, Isabelli Fontana, Halima Aden, Chiara and Valentina Ferragni, Gregory Porter and One direction.
I had also collaborated with magazines such as VOGUE, Harper`s Bazaar, Nylon, Vice, Rektmag, Atlas, Ellements, Cream, HUF, kluid Mag, Meow, Stell, Intrend, etc.. I had also been select in the contest of Harper´s Bazaar as one of the 10 best portfolios of Latin America. I had shoot and direct advertising campaigns for, Marriott, Grupo Luma Intelligence, Aguiar,Terious, Casa República, Morris etc.. And I had also shoot special events for Alive coverage, Pop social, Avon, Adidas and Timberland in New York City.
As of now I’m focusing on my vision as an independent photographer of fashion and beauty editorial, advertising campaigns, look books and special events in New York City.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think there’s many touristic areas in New York and I think they can easily go there alone. I would take them to places that are very New Yorker but not that easy to find if you are a tourist.
First of all I will take them to Brooklyn must of the tourist go to Manhattan and there’s great places to explore in Brooklyn. I will take them to the roof top of the Williamsburg Hotel it has great view of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Next I will take them to walk and explore the streets of Williamsburg and Buskwik and his thrift shops and variety of bars.
I can’t miss my favorite spot for brunch at Sunday’s in Brooklyn. I would Also take them to The backroom a speakeasy bar in Manhattan one of the only two bars during the Prohibition.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The first person I have to dedicate my shoutout is my father he has been my support through all this journey. He encouraged me to be focus and perseverant with my goals since I was a child. My father is also my right hand whenever I have to take big decisions in my career or close a deal. He may not be a photographer but he is a business man so he has always wise advises.
The other important person that is crucial for me in my career and in my life is my mother. She always tough me to be free, to travel and enjoy life because as she says we only have one. For this fashion photography journey I need that spirit. whenever I feel stressed about something from work or life with 3 words she manage to keep me balance again.
The person that inspired me the most in my career is Miguel Reveriego a fashion photographer from Spain which I have the pleasure to meet. I love his photography but the story of how he get were he is literally motivate me to pack my bags and fly to New York.
Another very important artist that inspire me in my life since I was child is my cousin Juan Cárdenas a photographer and writer. I grew up looking at him as an example and the first influence in my life for photography. We had an aunt Lourdes Cárdenas graduated in philosophy and literature she was a very wise women who always incited us to read and to appreciate art. I feel a special connection, support and inspiration with both of them through art.
Someone that can’t miss as an inspiration and support in my career is Chris Pearcey a very talented photographer and one of the first persons to trust in my talent and vision. He had challenge me to explore my photography in so many different ways. His tenacity and perseverance in photography had always been a source of inspiration.
Cover Photo: Pearcey Proper
Editorial photo: Sandra Grattarola
Black and white photo: Ariel R