Her passion for photography started to develop early on in her life. After several years abroad developing her skills and learning with many diverse people the art of photography, Mariana Sabido came back to her hometown Lagos, Portugal, and started her own business as a professional photo-shooter.
Mariana’s passion for photography is palpable in everything she does. We can sense it in her blog, in the photos that compose the gallery of her professional website, in the way she speaks about her profession. Contrary to many of her Portuguese compatriots who were recently and severely hit by unemployment and who turned to entrepreneurship as an alternative way to make a living, Mariana’s decision to start her own business came as the natural consequence of her studies and her professional life so far:
“The idea came up when I returned from London and settled in Lagos. It was not that I didn’t have a job... But because I had come back to Portugal and I wanted a job in photography. It was because I wanted something personal, something that related to my own experience.”
Her previous academic and professional path had shaped her to be a successful photographer. From a very early age she began to learn the art of photography and she travelled the world to perfect her skills and to learn with people from places as diverse as Brazil and London.
“I did my first summer course when I was around fifteen. Then in the last year of high school I took a module in photography and another course three times a week in ETIC [School of Photography in Lisbon]. Slowly, the will to photograph began to grow more and more. I worked in Xis, a magazine of the [Portuguese] newspaper Público, and then I moved to Brazil, where I studied photography and design and worked with several photographers for two years. From there I moved to Paris for six months and finally London... The world of photography! Each of these steps was important to reach the stage where I am today. I met many people and learnt a lot with them.”
Mariana also speaks about the importance of having worked as an assistant. To be able to contact clients, answer e-mails with questions and requests, and work under the orders and supervision of others was an important lesson.
The idea to set up her own project began when she returned to Portugal after studying for a Master’s in the University of Westminster in London.
“When I came back I didn’t know what to do... I had been studying photography for so long and what now? So I started to look at old photos I had taken, moments spent with my ‘nephews’ and I realised I had many good photos of children. Then I thought ‘Why not?’”
She started slowly. First came the blog where Mariana shared her own works and which she spread among her relatives and friends. Slowly but surely other people from all over the web started to visit her blog and to become acquainted with her photos and her talent. She began to receive requests for photo-shoots and the need to manage her time well grew. Now her blog gets around 1600 daily visits.
“The blog is very important. Besides showing photos of families I photo-shot, I give many tips and display my own lifestyle which I think appeals to people. I show books, films, clothes, other blogs... I think that for those who work in an office it can be a window to the outside world.”
In time, Mariana set up her own website due to the increasing demand for photo-shoots and the need to establish an interface with her clients. Entitled “Mãe 360°” (Mum 360°), Mariana has successfully coined her own brand. Aware that the web, along with word-of-mouth, are the main means through which her work and her business is divulged, Mariana devotes special attention to her website. It is the place where people come into contact with her previous works, it is the contact point with the photographer and where potential clients can learn about prices, photo packages and the logistics of a photo-shoot.
When inquired about what drives her to photograph, Mariana is very straightforward: families. She reveals that she has a fascination for the dynamics of people who are very close to each other. Her work focuses mainly on families and their special moments, loving couples, parents who want to immortalise newborns, pregnant women proud of their bulging bellies. It is this very thing – to immortalise special moments – that leads people to seek her services.
“I always see things from a different perspective than theirs. And they can be focused on their children or on their special day, they can forget the camera for a little while. It becomes a special day in which I try to interfere the least possible so that photos are as natural as possible.”
The photo-shoots usually last between one to three hours, depending on the client’s availability, whether there are children or newborn babies, their mood, and also on the weather. Mariana reveals that she has a strong inclination to photographing outdoors. But she always leaves it to the client’s discretion. When they require any tips:
“Well, I can always give my own suggestions when they don’t have any ideas. But I always insist that they choose a place special to them... The park they often go for a stroll, the beach or even their home. When they want a photo-shoot on holidays the place is already chosen and there’s not much else to consider.”
“More than anything I want to keep photographing people in their real lives. Who they are, their homes..."
As families with children are a frequent target of her lens, Mariana has often to deal with tantrums, shyness, moody little people and crying babies. The photographer is always happy to reschedule the sessions. But when inquired over whether children give her a hard time during photo-shoots, Mariana replies, good-naturedly:
“Children are easy to handle and the best approach is not to interfere! Let them be who they are.”
Bargaining and empathy go a long way. She reveals some tricks that she learned along the way:
“Of course there are always a few tricks that can be used to make them look at us. And the parents help a lot... But to create a bond is always the best way. That’s why when I arrive I don’t take out the camera straight away. I chat for a bit, ask about school or their friends. With the little ones I tell them a story to become their friend. And then I let them choose some pictures that they want to take, in exchange for others that I do want to take.”
And what about the future? Mariana is cautious and grateful for what she has already accomplished. She has a busy schedule with bookings almost every weekend and clients from all over the country. But she confesses that she would love to do an exhibition with her works and write a book on photography. Mariana has started organising workshops on photography very recently and would like to continue to teach her skills and spread her passion for family photography everywhere.
“More than anything I want to keep photographing people in their real lives. Who they are, their homes... Not for it to be artificial or rehearsed. It’s not always easy! But it’s the path I would like to continue on.”