I can’t remember the first time I saw a photo by Cheril Sanchez, but I can say without a doubt that I immediately recognized her work thereafter. It was easy to identify the perfect melange of dynamism that became her signature mark: strong yet soft, subtle yet powerful, rich yet relatable, easy to look at and subversive at the same time. When we finally locked down this interview it was important for me to not only understand her process but also learn about her relationship with photography and the gaze of a woman who shoots women.
27 / Female / Bronx, NY
2. Who or what inspired you to take up photography?
The whole process of bringing an idea to life inspired me when I started, and still inspires me now. When I took up photography in High School, it felt like a natural fit. I was often more inclined to be the one taking the pictures instead of being in them. As I got older, I really enjoyed coming up with creative ideas and executing them.
3. Can you describe in five words what its like to pursue a career in photography?
Relentless, laborious, challenging, inspiring, and rewarding.
4. What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring photographers?
The one piece of advice I can give to any artist is to create consistently and for yourself first. Everything else begins to fall in line when your creations come from a place of passion or genuine curiosity. It feels organic that way, and the right people will gravitate towards your work.
5. How do you choose your subjects?
I wish I had an easy answer for that! There are so many ways I go about choosing my models. Sometimes I’ll have the concept ready, and then I will cast the girl who fits the part. But most times I’ll find a girl with a nice vibe (as much as I can gather from their page) and I’ll customize the shoot based on her look.
6. Most of your photographs feature women, what is it that you hope to capture while working with women?
I really want to highlight how dynamic women are. I find that we can project so many facets of our personalities through pictures. We can be delicate yet sexy, graceful yet strong. I like to play with the effortlessness with which we bring these different sides out. There’s also a high level of comfort that naturally comes from being shot by a female photographer. I aim to make my subjects feel beautiful without steering them far from who they already are and what they already look like.
7. The women you shoot range in ethnicity and body type. What is the common thread that ties them together?
I think the diversity itself is what ties them together. Touching back on the last question, they are very easy to work with, and show versatility with ease.
8. Describe what a successful shoot day looks like:
A successful shoot day starts with me arriving an hour before everyone else to set up and shake off my pre-shoot jitters. The more prepared I am, the easier it is for me to move in confidence. Once everyone is on set, instant connections start to spark up and the creative juices start flowing. There is a “high” that comes with shooting each look, the creative “high” from everyone involved. When you feel that magic on set, you know you’re bound to make some fire imagery. At this point I already know I’ve had a successful shoot day.
9. Name three songs you could listen to on repeat:
They constantly change, but lately my jams have been:
1. Heaven by The Blaze
2. Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
3. Amor No Morro by Sango
10. Someone offers to buy you a work of art – price, era doesn’t matter – what’d you ask them to buy?
I never really thought about that, but I’d say hold the piece, and buy me a trip to experience beautiful scenery instead 😛
Photo story by Cheril Sanchez