Sandra Torralba (1979) is a visual artist who lives and works in Spain.
7 Questions an interview
When did you become interested in photography?
I had my first photographic camera aged 7 I believe and I have loved photography ever since. As a child I used to “direct” photographic movies with bests friends featuring frequently a killer murdering people. The story was basic and so were the pictures, but I remember it being the best game ever. Then throughout my life I have been connecting and disconnecting with photography. When I was 21 I went to Egypt and shot 19 films. I spent all my money in the films and then in having the prints develop to my great sadness, for that they had all been fogged in customs. Around that same time I did a kind of big photographic project with people in mental health hospitals and it was all good until someone complained (rightly i guess) about anonimity and vulnerability of the inpatients and so I had to gave all my work and negatives. Then one day my camera broke and in the end I stopped taking pictures, at least in a creative way. I was always the one that would take the pictures during trips or nights out, but I did not dare to go artistically, I wasn’t an artist!
Also I was for many years very absorbed with my profession (counselling, psychology and social work), so that is where i invested all my energies. Nonetheless after the years, I begun to ask for a digital reflex. My father gifted it to me for my 27th birthday I think, and i had no excuse. I was then finishing my Msc in therapeutic counselling dissertation and I ended resenting every minute it took me away from taking pictures. I finished in september 2007 and just then we decided to leave England to come back home and I decided to quit my profession. I gave my clients and employer 4 months and then left it all to start a Masters in photography in Spain. I have not stopped taking pictures since.
Do you have your own studio or are you working on location?
I cant afford to rent a studio, so when looking for a flat, one of the main conditions is that it should have a big enough room that I can use as a studio. Our flat is indeed organized based on my boyfriend’s and my activities, so it´s filled with computers, bikes, cats and photography stuff. Our lounge has few furniture elements that can be easily moved around to create a modest but useful photography studio that I frequently use. But I would say that most of the time I work on location, studio inst for all kinds of photography, and for most of what I do, I like to change scenarios and settings, be outside, be somewhere real that exists.
Do you have assistance or are you working alone?
Mostly I work alone, without any assistance, sometimes I have asked someone to press the shutter when I was unable for some reason. You can check this video Rock Star: the making of to get an idea of how I used to do things.
But lately I have been organizing shots that include a lot more characters and preparations, where I am physically unable to shoot with remote trigger or simply I need someone to be looking and shooting for me at the right moment. I realised it was a handicap not to rely on people, not to ask for help, it was limitating my possibilities, so I made the effort and I am all impressed with people´s kindness and support. I have started to use other professionals and photography assistants.
Was it easy to find models when you started photographing nudes?
I used myself most of the time initially, so that was easy. Maybe it was not easy to find models, but I was not looking for them either, for that I had myself to explore with. Then, when I decided I wanted to portray others, naked or not (for me nakedness is quite accessory, not a goal per se, but just a tool) I don’t recall it been hard overall. Generally speaking people are very excited about it. Nowdays finding women that would pose naked for me is extremely easy, I would say. Finding men, is more a pain in the ass…Finding various man that would pose naked is a nightmare!
What do you prefer: digital or analog?
Digital! I know it sounds wrong, but I like the fact that I can see what I am shooting straight away and I cant resist the angst that the shot might have come wrong or something would go wrong with the film.
Do you have other artist(s) who you admire and inspire you?
I have plenty!!!!! Gosh an endless list. Let me give you few names, Nathaly Daoust, Joel Peter Witking, Erwin Olaf, Loretta Lux, Marcos Lopez, Steven Klein, Camilla Amrbrust, Terry Richardson..In different periods or even days you find yourself inspired by different artists or things,and not only photography, but movies, books, paintings, musics, ideas…
What is number one on your wishlist?
I would like to live a happy life, like everybody else. As a mini wish related to photography I would love to be given one of the various grants I apply for to support my projects. I would like to be able to pay people that work for free with me. People blindly gift me their time, knowledge and affection so that I can do what I do best but it shames me that I cant reward them. Also I want a ring flash and immortality but neither are going to happen any time soon XD