Lena Sonrie has a creative flair that most only dream of but never uses. Even though we all possess a creative mind not all of us have a creative need. That is a need reserved for the few who dare to chase, who dare feed the urge, bringing a concept in the mind to fruition for others to see. This is what Lena Sonrie does and more. Growing up on a tiny outcrop of islands located off the western coast of Africa the better-known name is the Canary Islands. Discover what drives a young photographer to leave her island paradise in search of adventures around the globe.
When did you first discover your love for seeing the world through a lens? Did it start as a childhood passion that grew over time? Or was it an urge to put the world in a frame that pushes you along?
To be honest, I never thought about that until last Christmas talking with my brother, and I realized it was something that always was in my mind and in my hands. My grandfather was always with those old big VHS cameras in his hand, on the other hand, my father and brother were always really into the artist lifestyle, with cameras, guitars, painting and surfing… And without really thinking about it. My camera started to be my soul, the way to capture my feelings, my life and the moments that for me were special. Right now, for example, the brother of my boyfriend is just playing the guitar and I’m gonna stop writing just to shoot him.
Have you got an extensive background in photography and the visual arts? Did you learn and study about it over a period of time or are you self-taught?
At 11-12 years old I really got into photography and was completely self-taught, even with my camera and Adobe Photoshop, after finishing my studies as a graphic designer I moved from the Canary Islands to Barcelona to study: lighting, capture and image editing.
Are there any memorable works or experiences from when you first started out as a photographer
Photography (for me) is always an ongoing process, you always find new experiences, an ever new little idea, you can meet a new person that gives you a new inspiration on life, and of course new feelings that you want to show. The process of capturing what you are feeling or you want to express is always unique.
Coastal settings are a recurring theme in your work. Is its presence a matter of aesthetic or do you have your own relationship with the ocean and the coastal vibes of life?
I’m from the Canary Islands and the life of my father was music and surf… all my life, all that I love is the sea, the palm trees, the sun… that is paradise, that is life.
Surf and skate are a frequently visited theme in your work. When you’re not taking pictures are these hobbies? What is it about these subcultures that draws inspiration?
I used to surf when I was a little girl (Everybody used to think I was a little blonde boy) but I stopped when I had some ear problems, and started to focus on Skating and Rollerskating. I had been always into the street lifestyle and even in my fashion and artistic works, you can always feel that influence. Surf, skate parks, life, rap, rock, adventure and creativity is my life and my inspiration.
Graphic Design I guess is nowadays the main one, but I would love to come back soon to retouch my skills with video or drawing. For me, all that inspires you is a creative outlet. Surf, dance, riding a board and even preparing your outfit for the day (I don’t work too much on that anymore but it is something that we all should care about, not for another’s view or opinion, but for ourselves, to remember who we are).
It appears that being a photographer you have seen the many parts of the world through your lens. Certain aesthetics, particularly relating to the fashions captured there seems to be an interest in streetwear or urban styles. Is this drawing on any particular inspiration?
Well, fashion started because of a school project and first jobs… And then it was something I started to love and enjoy while doing it. On the other hand, about the urban style, I guess it’s just about my own style, and I really feel its important to show a part of me in every single photo that I do.
If you could travel and shoot in any place or city in the world where would it be? Or do you have any travel plans to go shoot somewhere abroad?
Actually, I would love to go back to some places that I had already been, the likes of London, Paris and of course my beautiful South Korea… As new places, I would love to travel to California, New York City, Japan and Bali. I would love to travel to big cities and find the tropical mood and my own vision or reflection in other cultures.
What kind of music do you listen to in your free time? Or even on set while you shoot? Are there any musical tastes or influences behind your own style?
It’s really relative, it’s always about mood and vibe. I can as much listen to R&B and Afro music throughout the whole shoot so people can get energized. The models can feel more free and natural for the shoot also Rock, Rap or Dancehall for inspiration. Listening to these genres of music is all about a saying that is “the word is half of who says it and half of who listens to it” which for me is really important because I can express my art differently depending on how I feel and interpret a song. I don’t have a specific type of music but in general, it is very important for me.
Community as much as solitude is conveyed effectively in your work. While some seem abysmal and solitary many others capture an ‘alone at last’ kind of intimacy… As a creative how do you manage to find the right balance in your imagery?
This one time someone told me something like “Even if your photos are full of colour and magic, you can always feel the sadness in them.” Maybe for that is why you can feel that “lonely vibe”. I like to meet with people that I can feel they have something to express, I like to talk with them in the shooting, ask them what they feel, and even read their faces. Some of my models or people that I shoot they are used to being around people all the time. Though, it could be that being with me and my camera, just talking, with them their souls arrive at a point where they feel this little happiness of realizing that they are finally alone.
What are your thoughts on censorship in your work? Despite the raw and intimate moods you capture it appears that it is still present, creatively or otherwise.
I always have problems with censorship since my style, I almost always use boys and a lot of girls for my artist and sometimes fashion works. In my opinion, Facebook/IG censor way too many things that are art and not really offensive content.
With social media powering content sharing today it is easy for artists to share their work with relatable audiences. However, it is also easy to pick up by the waves of online trends. What could you share with fellow artists still discovering their styles and their place in the creative world?
My advice would be to completely forget social media, it can be difficult because of the fact that our work needs to be posted and all that, but what happens sometimes to new artists is that they see so much content of other ‘famous’ artists that they easily get distracted trying to recreate things that work already and they forget what really made them start photography. What is really bad with that too is that the photos this new artist see are not always good and they get each day ‘contaminated’ with bad content. For me, the best option you have is to search your inspiration in other things like music, dance or even old photos with your family.
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