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Shooter Spotlight: Moldovia to Florida

This week’s shooter spotlight highlights a photographer we are quite familiar with. Maria Sardari has made our photo contest finals on numerous occasions, and indeed finally won it for the first time last month. Her daily self portrait series is very popular on Flickr, with dozens of comments on each photo. We like her gritty throwback style of processing, the eerie moods she creates, and the endless stream of ideas she is able to conjure up with an Aputure remote in hand. Dive in to learn more about this talented young photographer…

© Maria Sardari

Name: Maria Sardari

Hometown: Chishinau, Moldova

Tell us about yourself:

I’d like to think of myself as a unique person but I’m not. I do ordinary things every teenager would do but photography is an important part of my daily life. I’m sort of crazy in some ways, you know running around with a camera and barefoot most of the time. I wish I could live in a different reality where I could make everything the way I want it to be. A lot of the time I feel trapped in the uncertainty I have about the future. Well, I’ll just tell you the facts about myself: I’m 16; live in Florida and constantly wish there was snow in the winter; I miss where I’m from (Moldova) and all the pretty places I used to play in when I was little; I speak Russian and a little Romanian; I learned English four years ago and now feel as though it’s my first language; I wish I could be around artists and learn from them.

© Maria Sardari

How did you get started?

It was sort of involuntary, my mom noticed me stealing her camera to take bad shots of plants but I denied any enjoyment coming from it. On Christmas, about two years ago all I wanted was an iPod touch and when I went to NYC, my dad and I purchased one. My mom was frustrated with my choice and told me to return it, so I reluctantly did. With the same money my mom purchased a Canon SX10. It took me a long time to actually begin shooting consistently but once I began my 365 it sort of clicked and I didn’t want to stop.

Favorite camera and lens? Why?

Canon Rebel XSi and a 50mm 1.8 lens. I guess it’s because that’s the only camera I own and the lens satisfies all my needs. Of course my dream would be a Canon 5D Mark ii.

© Maria Sardari

If you could shoot anywhere/anyone/anything, what would it be?

That’s a difficult question but if I have to pick one it would be a scene located in the clouds. There would be some sort of intricately carved vessel bathed in the rays from the sun which would be behind the subject. My favourite model at the time, Lily Cole, would be wearing a soft and delicate dress floating around her in the wind. She would be sitting on the edge with her feet hanging off the side and everything would have a dreamy look all wrapped up in velvety clouds.

What’s your shooting style? Photographic influence?

I don’t really know how to define it, but I guess I’m going for a mythical feeling. I love noise and soft textures that give the photograph more depth. I’m influenced very much by the works of Brooke Shaden, Alex Stoddard and Lissy Laricchia.

© Maria Sardari

What’s your favorite photo? Why?

I wish I could pick, it feels almost impossible with all the brilliant artists out there. I see many photos everyday and I cannot understand how people can create such masterpieces. At the moment I can say that this shot is my favourite because of all the curiosity I feel when I look at it. All the elements seem perfect and collected into this work.

How did you get started on your self-portrait project?

To be honest I would much rather shoot models. But I’m first of all a little shy when it comes to asking others to model and I do not feel that I am good enough for people to even agree. The reason that I shoot self-portraits is that I am always available and I know what pose or look I’m going for, therefore shooting with myself is much easier.

© Maria Sardari

What is the best thing about photography?

How dynamic it is and the fact that so much can be captured in a still. It’s also something that makes me remember things more clearly, without photography I would not be able to recall interesting details that have happened in the past year.

What’s your most memorable shooting gig?

Truly, I remember just about every shoot I’ve ever done, but my favourite was when I went to shoot with my friend Cathy Kiin for the first time. I have never shot with a model that I did not know very well before and I laugh at the awkwardness of it.

© Maria Sardari

Who is your favorite photographer? Why?

Hard to single out just one, I adore numerous photographers from flickr.com but I love the works of Brooke Shaden the most. She has such a distinctive style and she always stays true to what she believes in. I respect her for working so hard and I wish I was able to come up with concepts as easily as she does.

What does the future hold for you?

I really have no idea, it sort of scares me. I want to pursue photography and make it my focus but I know there is no guarantee I will make it anywhere. I’m definitely planning on working hard and shooting with more models. After my 365 is over I will begin a 52 weeks project and hopefully always find inspiration.

See Maria’s work here: Flickr and Facebook

© Maria Sardari

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