Although I was always the one to have a camera with me in all the parties and events from a young age, I had never realized I loved photography until one day, after going to my university’s library with a friend and bringing home more photography books than actual books I needed to read for class, she looked at me and said “you should probably be a photographer”. I didn’t give much thought to it until arriving in Canada back in 2003 when I took my first photography course.
Photography for me is a way to document the perceived memories of a given moment in time. I have always been fascinated with the idea that memories, in my opinion, are in reality fabrications of moments shared by individuals and influenced by each person’s experiences of that moment. A photograph allows us to give context to a memory we have stored in our minds as well as help to enforce a particular feeling, emotion and mood.
An Interview with Camila
Q. When is your birthday?
A. April 11th, 1983
Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?
A. When I was kid, around grade 2 to 4 (not sure when exactly), I had the biggest crush on this kid at school which lasted a life time (until high school). I remember this birthday party at my condo party room – my mom knew how to throw a kid’s party. I got so many gifts that night, more specifically two pencil cases made out of fabric. They were identical except for the colour. The blue one was from a friend (I don’t remember whom anymore), and the red one was from my crush….I was so happy about that gift… I still have it – only the red one.
Q. How about your worst? And why?
A. It wasn’t the worst memory at the time it happened, but instead, it became the worst birthday related memory I have. In 1999 I had just moved to another state with my mother and I was turning 16 that year. One day I went to a concert with my friends from school and when arriving at my condo I was confused to be running into more friends at my building. As I proceeded to my floor, I realized that something was going on and that they were coming for a surprise party. I remember getting into my apartment and celebrating with about 10 friends. My mom was not there with us, she went to her room and at that time I assumed it was to allow me to have fun with my friends. She passed away just over 1 month after that and to this day, after putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, I realize that my mother was extremely sick and in her crazy ways of being, never really told anyone about how bad it was… and I, as a selfish teenager too concerned about nothing else but myself, didn’t even notice what was happening until it was too late. Now, every time I think of that birthday party, it hurts.
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. Funny enough I am a person that believes that everyday should be celebrated and not just our birthdays. I know it is probably cheesy or cliche to say that, but I had to learn very early and very quickly that life is too precious and short not to be celebrated every single day. For me, birthdays are a reminder that every year we get older and that we should strive to be better versions of ourselves; that new challenges will be ahead of us and that the work is never done. It is a reality check and a way to keep me grounded to deal with the inevitable cycle of life.
Q. Do you/your family have a tradition/rituals/ceremonies to celebrate birthdays? What is it?
A. Ha…Family traditions… nope. Nothing.
Q. What is your life motto?
A. Something I wrote in one of my bios: “I believe that the world would be a better place if everyday we tried to do something nice for someone else and if we were not afraid of appearing vulnerable and sharing our hardships”. This is something I take to heart and anyone who knows me, they know it all. My life is an open book because I believe it is important to let other people know that they are not alone in the struggle of life… we all have been through some tough shit in life and if my own story can help some else, I need to tell it.
As for right now, in this moment in my life, I have added another motto: “Wake up and be AWESOME. Everyday.”
Q. What/Whom drives you to keep going and why?
A. I joke that my passion for everything I believe in comes from my Brazilian background and while I believe that is partially to blame, I have to say that deep down inside, it is my parents… Because of their story, what they believe in and what they have worked for. Our family story is not a clean cut one and the way they handled everything we have gone through has thought me that no matter how shitty life gets, as long as you push through, in the end, everything will be just fine. So I keep on pushing through.
Q. If you could change one and only one thing – big or small – what would it be?
A. In my life specifically, I would’t change a thing. I strongly believe that every single event that has happened in my life, happened to make me a better person. To challenge me to be the better version of myself that I long to become and to go back and change any of it, would only mean my current self would not be the same. And I don’t want to change that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am perfect and I know I could improve 10 fold, but I understand that life is a work in progress and that we have to take charge of our actions and the consequences. But if I were to answer this question directly, it would be that people were not afraid to be vulnerable and that everyday we tried to pay it forward.
Q. Which photographers have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?
A. First of all, I am an awful, really awful person to remember names… So that is not gonna happen here. But I do a lot of research. I look up a lot of other people’s work and due to my visual memory, I am influenced by what I see. I picture the images in my head and then I find myself recreating them later on. Funny enough, if I had to pick an specific person that influenced me on my career path it was the teacher I had in the first photography course I took in Canada. I had just arrived here about 6 months before and had no clue which program to choose to transfer into at University. The teacher had graduated from a Fine Arts degree from UofT and I recall looking at his credentials on the course outline and thinking “That’s what I am going to do”. Ever since I’ve actually followed many of his steps, which is kind of creepy if you think about it, but I promise, I am not a creep, I just happen to record a lot of information in my brain and I assimilate it into my life… lol
Q. What motivates you to continue to take photographs?
A. The need to be happy with the images I capture. Every new photo is an opportunity to improve.
I am extremely critical of everything I do and I don’t settle for sub-par performance. I remember that at 9 yrs old I started drawing. I took drawing and painting classes through all my childhood into adulthood. I was NEVER, ever happy with my drawings. They were never perfect. The few I had managed to like, I sold…. so I have nothing to show for. I think that is why photography made sense to me – it was a way to recreate something, in a different medium in the same exact way I saw it – perfectly. And although I still strive for perfection in my photographs and I beat myself up for every little thing I could have done better, I have become better at accepting the flaws. Baby steps….
Q. Why did you agree to participate in The Birthday Book Project?
A. I invented it! LOL
Q. What do you expect to accomplish through your participation in The Birthday Book Project?
A. My intention with this project has multiple sides. It is about challenging myself to come out of the bubble and actually interact with other fellow photographers. It is to help other photographers to send out their own messages thorough their images. It is to bring the spot light to Canada and Canadian photographers. It is to inspire others to pursue their crazy ideas. It is to believe enough in something that nothing else can bring you down. I hope I can achieve at least a few of these things and whatever extra comes, that will be a bonus.