BEHIND THE LENS OF SANDRA VIJANDI
ALL PHOTOS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE BY SANDRA VIJANDI
Please could you tell us about your background and how it leads to the work you do today? A fact about me that surprises people is that I started my career as a primary school teacher. But that unique career origin notwithstanding, I have always been an artist and a creative person. Over the years I have expressed this gift in many different ways; from music and dance, to painting and now photography. So, at 26 I had the impulse to move to Scotland to learn English. I only intended to stay for a few months, but I came across a young photographer who was taking classes at the university, and that inspired me to follow my passion. I enrolled in a school and with four years of dedicated work, I obtained my degree in photography from the University of Edinburgh. I moved to London to jumpstart my career. That entailed a lot of meeting new people, putting myself out there, making contacts, and building my brand / reputation. Passion is a must, but it is consistency and perseverance that transforms that passion into a career and what has brought me to where I am today.
Why did you choose to develop your career in the UK? So, as I mentioned, I came to the UK to study English and I stayed when I discovered the photography program at University of Edinburgh. As for the initial decision, a friend recommended Edinburgh and I didn’t think it twice. I took a one way flight and that was it. Sometimes we are lucky and we listen to the hints that destiny leaves for us. Edinburgh was and is a great city to study. It feels like a small town, and that offered a far more hospitable introduction to living in the UK than perhaps a larger city like London could. I fell in love with Edinburg and it’s very welcoming people.
Tell us about your latest project I had the chance to work with lots of amazing artists. One of the most popular projects this year was the promo shoot with Paul Weller. That work was used for his new album and was published in magazines covers and articles around the world. How important do you think as an artist to take care of mental health? I think it’s important for everyone to focus on all aspects of health (physical, spiritual, and mental). That may be even more important for artist as the lifestyle can be time consuming, the temperaments can be sensitive, and despite the interaction with thousands of people, those interactions can be superficial.Therefore it can be a lonely and isolating life where the time commitments make it difficult to focus on family and friends. So I always make time to focus on total health (mind, body, and spirit) because if I am unwell, I cannot be creative and share my gift to the world.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn't seen it before? I suppose if I had to describe my work in a word, I’d use the word cinematic. It is a picture that is meant to evoke emotion. That is the magic behind the work; the ability to create a still that feels alive and tells a story. Who else it’s behind your work? Me. I usually do the art direction and the postproduction. I sometimes have to hire a team of stylist - make up artists , hair stylist, assistants depending on the project. What or who has been the biggest singular influence on your work? The world around me. People. cinema. I love dramatic lighting shots. Photographers such Annie Leibovitz , Mario Testino, Mert and Marcus, Steven Klein How do you think the economic uncertainty in the UK can affect the artists? Well, a weakened economy forces clients to take a critical eye to all spending.That critical eye, often results in reduced spending on discretionary items which can impact all service businesses (photography included). However, the severity of the impact will not be felt uniformly across all photographers. Those who focus more on consumers, may see a more significant reduction in activity than photographers focused on business clients.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far and what would you like to achieve in the near future? I have loved every single project that I have worked on but if I have to choose one of my favourites, I would have to say shooting for the movie cover for “Last Man Down” and shooting the stills during the filming in Sweden for a few weeks. It was literally like being on an action movie myself. And also, pretty cool to see my work when I open Netflix. I would definitely love to get more into film stills and create more movie covers . The plan is to keep growing and travelling more for work. Where people can find more about you and your future projects One of the best platforms to learn more about me , to see more of my work and be updated would be Instagram @sandravijandi. Also my website: www.sandravijandi.com