In an interview with The Game by IMAGO, Colombian photographer Lina Maria Zapata describes how she dreams that her images will inspire people and other photographers to visit the places she has been.
Lina María is a Colombian photographer whose interest in photography began at nine when her parents gave her her first camera. Interested in photo reportage, portraits and landscapes, she likes to highlight the beauty of every day. The fact that she can capture images of cultures different from her own gives her a deep desire to share with the world what she sees through her eyes.
She recommends to all photographers who want to embark on a new adventure to take the plunge without fear and not compare themselves with other photographers. Let the imagination and creativity run wild to give each photo a personal stamp.
“Everyday life holds thousands of stories waiting to be told and portrayed.”
Please give us an introduction about yourself.
I am Lina María Zapata, a brave woman who dreams of traveling the world taking photographs. I live in Cali, Colombia, and from here, I plan all my adventures. I consider myself a very free, sincere and spontaneous woman. I try to see the good side of life, of people and of the things I do; I relate that a lot to my photographs because I feel that in each work, I give a part of my heart. For every photographic project, I do, I give 100% of my commitment and love so that it reflects who I truly am.
How did your interest in photography start?
My interest in photography started at a very young age. When I was nine years old, my parents gave me my first camera, and from that moment, everything changed. I remember taking the camera to school and starting to take pictures of all my friends and every moment I liked. Also, at that time, my father had a professional Pentax K1000 camera, and from a very young age, he taught me techniques and tips for my photos.
Then, when I entered university, I got my reflex camera, and I started to develop my passion. I still have the same camera, and it has accompanied me to incredible places, immortalizing moments that I treasure in my soul.
“I still have the same camera, and it has accompanied me to incredible places, immortalizing moments that I treasure in my soul.”
What has been the most exciting part of being a photographer?
The most interesting thing about being a photographer is having the ability to marvel at simple things and to shape my mind with images. For example, I think in images, sometimes I’m walking along, and I see something routine, and I think, wow, this is a good picture.
I think working in a way with the visual arts gave me the possibility to see the greatness of the ordinary, to see the magic of chaos that is visually beautiful and to be drawn to the ordinary, everyday life that holds thousands of stories waiting to be told and portrayed.
“The most interesting thing about being a photographer is having the ability to marvel at simple things and to shape my mind with images.”
What type of photography interests you the most?
I love photojournalism. Being able to tell stories around an image or situation and capturing the everyday world. I also love portraits and photographing landscapes.
“I can inspire others to do the same with a place I have visited.”
In your photographs, you show a vision of very different cultures, is there any intention on your part to show this?
Of course, as I mentioned before, what I like most is to capture every day, and the fact that I can portray cultures different from my own makes me want to share with the world what my eyes see. There are times when we have myths or a bias for certain cultures, and the fact that I can portray them and show a point of view through my photographs makes me happy because I feel that I am helping to change a perception.
I decided to travel to Asia only because I saw a documentary on photography that portrayed Indian culture, and visually I loved it. So just as I was inspired to travel to parts of India, I know I can inspire others to do the same with a place I have visited.
Have you ever had a photographic experience where you had to immerse yourself in a different environment? What was that experience like?
Yes, now I mentioned that I had had the chance to travel to Asia, and it was a very rewarding experience for me. Both personally and visually, being immersed in a culture rich in traditions, ceremonies and rituals was very interesting. I would say that without hesitation, it is one of the best experiences I have ever had, as I was able to capture unique moments and learn a lot. Traveling gives you something they don’t teach you in universities, and that is to appreciate every experience you live, plus culturally you learn a lot about the culture or country you are visiting; well, at least that’s my opinion.
“Traveling gives you something they don’t teach you in universities.”
“The right time to take a photo is when your heart says: CLICK NOW.”
For you, when is the best time to take a photo?
The right time to take a photo is when your heart says: CLICK NOW. It sounds weird and a bit poetic, but that’s how it is. Personally, I’m not one to plan hours and hours for a photograph if I’m on a spontaneous photography project. If I’m doing controlled work, in a studio, for example, or something like fashion and product, the photos do need to be thought out and planned. But if I am portraying every day and spontaneity in one of my adventures, I just go with my instinct and click the moment I can previously visualize the concept and the image I saw in my mind. I must say that very few times I have failed, because usually what I visualize I see well in the camera, but it has also happened to me that I visualize something and when I click it doesn’t give me the result I expected.
What are the tools a photographer should take with him/her when he/she decides to go on a trip to be prepared to capture the best moment?
This a very tricky question, but well, I’d say my must-haves are:
- An interchangeable lens camera
- A 50mm lens for portraits
- A wide-angle lens for landscapes
- A zoom or telephoto lens in case you need to capture moments at a distance.
- A spare battery and memory card holder
- A good backpack that is waterproof
- A rain jacket (this is a very personal thing, haha, but it has saved me when I’m on an adventure and it’s raining)
- A buff or something to cover your face in case you are in a dusty or polluted environment.
- And finally, and without a doubt, the most important thing is to have a lot of attitudes. A lot of calm and patience to know how to wait when the time is right and attitude and determination to make the click. You have to leave your sorrow behind and fill yourself with courage.
“ You have to leave your sorrow behind and fill yourself with courage.”
What is Lina Maria’s future as a photographer?
Let’s say that I leave the future to destiny and life circumstances. I will only say that at every opportunity, I will try to put my heart and soul into every project I undertake.
Any recommendations you would like to give to traveling and adventurous photographers?
To go on an adventure without fear, to always think about doing an honest job and not to over-demand yourself or compare yourself with other photographers. Everyone has a different style and vision and the key is to let your creativity and imagination flow so that each portrait is unique and has your own stamp on it.
Interview by Maria Camila Diaz Salas.