Interview with Sarai Saldivia Vargas

Sarai SV, Fragments of everyday life in Chile

1. Thank for taking part in this interview. How many years have you been photographing? How did you approach photography for the first time? Tell us more about your path.

Thanks to you for inviting me. I’ve been working in photography for around seven years. Since I was little I have liked disciplines related to image, both cinema, and photography. I got into this last one through to my grandfather. For I can remember, I always saw him taking photos or with a video camera in his hands. Most of the family archive that I have, both video and photographic, are his authorship. As I grew up I felt an interest in images, in how they are mechanically created.

Around the age of 18, I began with photography. Little by little, I studied photography on my own. I studied fashion photography in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a short time, and then I came across analog photography. At that moment I said “this is what I want and this is what I love to do.”

2. What do you want to express with your photographs? What is your recurrent theme?

I’m not trying to express something specific, rather than to rescue details of my own daily life in Puerto Montt, a city in southern Chile. My photography reveals bits of my surroundings that people, due to their intense daily life rhythm, tend to lose and not observe. Details that have been in front of them all the time, as the face of a worker or natural landscapes found in the city. I try to photograph these scenes with an unconventional perspective. The recurring topics that I have been working on lately are related to society, territory, and portraits. I also like street photography. I enjoy it very much.

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sarai-sv-photographer (3)

3. What are your main inspirations? (movies/ photographers/ directors/ music/ artistic movements ecc.)

I really like watching independent films like the ones of Xavier Dolan and Wes Anderson among others. Cinema and documentaries are some of the main inspirations for my photographic work, so are landscapes and people. Photography artists that inspire me are Paz Errazuriz, a prominent Chilean photographer, as well as Luis Poirot and Sergio Larrain. Also Joel Meyerowitz, Vivian Maier, Joe Greer, and George Muncey.

4. What kind of gear do you use? Do you think the choice of equipment is important to communicate the final shot?

I work with both analog and digital equipment. My main cameras are the Nikon D3100, a Minolta XD 5, and the FED 2. Honestly, I think having a high-end camera helps you aesthetically and to highlight specific technical aspects of an image. The same applies when working in fashion, advertising, or events, having a professional set of photographic equipment helps a lot. But personally, I consider that photography is made by the person and not by the camera. Your camera is a projection of you.

5. I see in your work there is a strong predominance of black and white and a point of view near to deadpan photography. Why do you use this aesthetic style to communicate?

When I got involved in analog photography I fell in love with its process. I like working in black and white because it requires more delicacy, both when shooting and when developing the photo. It requires a major sensitivity, which is reflected in the subsequent clearness of each image. I have discovered over time that my personality seems to be like a black and white photo. That apparently does not provide much information and is shown in a mysterious way, but at the same time, it has a lot of details. So the prevalence of black and white in my work I think happens unconsciously. It resembles how people get to know me.

6. What are your plans for the future?

Since so far my work is based on homemade and artisanal processes, today I am setting up an analog laboratory in my house. At the same time, I am working on a photobook and in an opportunity to exhibit my work soon.

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sarai-sv-photographer (3)
sarai-sv-photographer (3)
sarai-sv-photographer (1)
sarai-sv-photographer (3)


Sarai SV (b. 1994) Chilean photographer who resides in the city of Puerto Montt (Chile). Her work explores the bonds between environment, territory, and people, always linked with documentary photography, street photography and portraiture. She has participated in various workshops and photographic residencies both in Chile and Argentina. She works in analog and digital formats.

(2015) Fashion and Advertising Photography at the FotoDesign school Buenos Aires, Argentina
(2015) Selected for Analog Photography workshop and Black and White development at Balmaceda Arte Joven, Puerto Montt
(2019) Selected for the workshop “The sense of History” with Miguel Angel Larrea, “ENFOTO encuentro fotográfico”, Diego Rivera Art House, Puerto Montt
(2019) Selected for the workshop “Project, Matter, Circulation” with Alexis Díaz, “ENFOTO encuentro fotográfico”, Diego Rivera Art House, Puerto Montt
(2020) Scholarship for the Residence of FOCCO20 ANTIMONUMENTO, Contemporary Photography Festival, curated by Rodolfo Andaur, Guayacán, Coquimbo, Chile.
(2021) Selected for the ENFOTO Workshop “Community and Territory” dictated by Alexis Díaz, Casa del Arte Diego Rivera, Puerto Montt.

(2020) Collaborative Work Cabaña “La10” with the Project “Story(s) that we are rebuked”. Guayacán, Coquimbo, Chile.

(2020) FIF Santa Marta, Colombia, with the photographic series “Renacer”
(2020) Space House | FIFV, Valparaiso, Chile, with “Renacer” series.
(2020) Letargo Magazine, Coquimbo, Chile, in the article “Chile: The streets have revealed your impunity”.
(2020) Fé Magazine, Chile, with “Women Hoods” series.
(2020) Valpo Análogo, Valparaiso, Chile, publication “Collective Archive: analog records of the 2020 pandemic”.


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