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Interview: Photographer Rodrigo Mancilla (USA)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I am currently an internationally published portrait photographer, born in Chile and living in the United Stated. My professional background is diametrically different, I got a degree in Industrial Engineering with MBA studies. During my time in the University I could no longer afford the cost of processing film, so for many years I did not touch my camera. Fast forward a few years, got married and had two girls, this was the key moment in my photography life because it marked my interest in Portraiture and the decision to rent a studio for professional photography.

How and when did you get into photography?

I into photography while in High School, my dad always had a camera and had recently purchased a russian made Zenit. It was all metal, manual camera. This was pre-Internet era, so I had to learn all the old school way – books. I began learning about films, exposure and depth-of-field and quickly became fascinated at the artistic possibilities. When shooting, I would carry a small notebook with me and would make notes of my settings, so the next time (after getting my roll developed) I would be able to see what I did right and what I did wrong … lots of trial and error.

What does photography mean to you?

It’s been my creative outlet, I do all my shooting and editing (I usually have a specific feeling in mind that I can only truly finish via post-processing). While working behind the camera or the computer monitor I can get lost for hours, many times I have to remind myself of deadlines since I’m always creating something new, improving workflow or tweaking settings to something completely different of what I originally intended.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

My style is fine portraiture. This I define by the use of the light, the expression or posing of my subject(s) and the story behind it. I’ve been focusing a lot on Boudoir Photography primarily because of finding it tremendously inspiring and empowering for women.

Where do you get inspiration from?

There truly is a lot of people I’ve looked up to for inspiration, but some of the key names that come to mind (not in any particular order) are Peter Hurley, Sue Bryce, Annie Leibovitz, Felix Kunze, and Stanislav Puchkovsky (aka Sean Archer).

Think you in advance what you want in the picture?

Always. This was a turning point in my career as a professional photographer. During a workshop, another photographer said “shoot with intention”, and that really sank in. I pre-visualize the scene based on the theme, the wardrobe or the mood I’m after with the session. At the time of shooting I already have an idea of lights placement and lenses that will be used. This has been key on achieving a consistent look in my work, and be able to properly replicate styles for my customers.

Studio, on location or both?

Both, but during 2017 I made special efforts towards shooting on-location. Outdoors, houses, hotels, streets, etc. Every single opportunity I had to get out of the studio, was an opportunity to re-invent myself and get more creative.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I am a paid professional but look for fun collaboration projects, it keeps me fresh and always enjoy meeting new people.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

It was probably my first Bodoir session at the studio. This wasthe first time I became convinced that my Makeup Artist is beyond amazing, but was also the first time I began lighting my shots with a single light and letting shadows tell the story. In many ways this session was a major milestone in my development as an artist.

What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?

Inspiration is everywhere, when I’m outside with my family I’m always observing how people behave, how they react (I’m a big fan of street photography) but lately I’ve been quite drawn to Instagram and Pinterest. These are great sources when looking for specific moods or even lighting ideas.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Even though I am a Nikon shooter, I have no particular preferrence. I always liked Nikon because one of family members had Nikon gear. But when I bought my first DSLR (a Nikon D90), I didn’t think it twice ... what convinced me was the ergonomics, it just felt rock-solid. When it comes to lenses, I wish I had access to some of the Canon glass (like the Canon 135m f/2) but my absolute favorite right now is the Sigma Art 50mm f1.4 ... it’s everything they say it is and more.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Don’t charge customers unless you have consistency in your work. People come to us photographers asking us to capture part of their lives. This is serious stuff, you need to know your gear inside and out, you need to account for potential issues, so that the work that you produce is comparable to the one they saw in the first place.

What do you think of our new magazine?

It is such an honor to be part of this publication. The quality of work, the content and diversity of styles is a great source of inspiration. I believe the editor has made a fantastic job at pulling amazing creatives from all over the world into this publication, which I am absolutely amazed to be part of.

Nicole Dodson


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