Masha Sardari is a 23-year-old photographer from Rybnitsa, Moldova. After being gifted a point-and-shoot camera in 2010, Masha began her exciting photographic journey. One of her first projects was a 365-day challenge, an endeavour that strengthened her creativity, perseverance, and skills. Her childhood has inspired her in many ways, providing her with colourful and otherworldly story ideas that are very evident in her portfolio.
Masha is currently located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where she creates portraits reminiscent of stunning paintings and vivid dreams. As Masha herself states on her website, her photographs provide a window into the inner world of her mind. In this interview, she talks about her background, her love for art, and much more. I hope Masha's work pushes you to reach new heights, find your unique style, and always believe in the power of your photographs.
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What drew you to photography?
I have always had a great interest in art. As a little kid I drew pictures of my house and me and my sister sitting on the fence. In elementary school I enjoyed painting and making cards for my family. As I grew, so did my love for art. By the time I was finishing middle school, I knew I wanted to pursue art making for the rest of my life. As I experimented with charcoal, ink, and painting in school I began being intrigued by the little point and shoot camera I had at home. When I was younger, all I knew was the drug store Kodak my family used to take pictures on special occasions, the digital camera was barely emerging. So when I got my hands on the Fujifilm, I couldn't stop. This was a whole new way of seeing the world.
You were born in Moldova and raised in Florida. How has your background influenced your creative vision?
My background has everything to do with my style. I often draw on the romanticized version of my childhood and my homeland I carry in my mind. I cannot help but be mystified by the nature and folklore of my native country. Florida has pushed me to reconsider some of my ideas and nestle my images in new environments I did not have access to in my youth. It forced me to be more creative and go beyond my desires to shoot in deciduous settings.
A 365-day project played a significant part at the beginning of your photographic journey. What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from taking unique photos every day?
It is hard. Being original and consistent with creation is one of the most difficult things you can put your creativity through. You want to say “writer's block?” Try “photographer's block.” But it did make me realize that practice is essential to creating quality work. Without it, you lose your skill and your ‘eye.'
You have an impressive collection of self-portraits. What advice would you give to someone who’d like to master the art of self-portraiture?
Dig deep and don't be afraid of your demons. Take photos all the time and avoid critiquing your appearance, it's not about how you look. It's about the story. It's about the emotion.
Square photos are ever-present in your portfolio, giving your entire gallery a very neat and graceful look. How has limiting yourself to a specific format helped you?
It keeps me focused. Sure, I make some panoramic works once in a while, but I have fallen in love with the square and I don't see myself changing that. My subjects are contained by the frame, they are all that matter to the eye and there are no distractions.
Which of your images is your favourite, and why?
I really can't answer this. There are some I am more proud of but they all mean something. I can't just choose one just like I can't choose one color. They all matter in some way.
What is your favourite shooting equipment?
I have worked with my Canon 5D Mark II for over 5 years and an average, cheap Targus tripod. I prefer to use my Nikkor 50 mm f1.2 with an adapter. I have been dreaming of a Leica M or a new 5D Mark IV, but they are expensive. Maybe one day I will upgrade but for now, the Mark II has been reliable.
How do you come up with ideas for your shoots?
I wish I told you I have a process. But really, it's all randomly coming to me. If I try, it's usually forced and unoriginal. I just live my life and hope the images don't disappear.
When an artistic obstacle emerges, how do you prefer to deal with it?
Try every version I can come up with and if it doesn't work, then it needs time. I give it a rest and come back to it a few days later.
What creative advice would you give to the readers of Light Stalking?
Don't ever stop creating. If you don't want to do it because you're not feeling it, that's when you've got to keep going. It will feel good again and it will always be worth it. I have never regretted making a piece, even if it didn't look the way I wanted it to. Everything is a learning process.