Isabella Dias is a 20-year-old photographer and art director from Belém, Brazil. She is obsessed with vibrant colors, the contrasting parts of nature, and with portraying people in a fantasy-like and magical atmosphere. Describing her work, she says: "My photographs are meant to give you a piece of something that is so magical, that will deeply surround and touch you."
How did you first fall in love with photography?
I first fell in love with photography during my senior year in high school because all of my friends were interested in taking photos and I wanted to be a part of that too! Therefore, it started as just a way to become closer to my friends and have more in common with them. Photography became my greatest passion and a way of expressing myself.
How's life as a woman in the photography world?
It`s definitively bittersweet, because by being a woman, I feel that I have more of a sensibility to look at the world and at people, which allows me to portray them in a more true and special way in my photos. I'm also able to speak about very important topics and be a voice to represent my community. This is very satisfying to me.
However, I have to constantly deal with society questioning my value as an artist due to my gender, have to deal with harassment from men while working, have to always be proving myself since I'm constantly being undermined when compared to male artists even if my work is better than theirs, etc… It's a constant battle against the sexist art world that is always trying to erase my work and its importance. But I find the strength to move on and continue to resist through the support of the amazing community of women artists worldwide.
Could you share any notable struggles or challenges you have experienced when you were still starting out? What challenges do you encounter now and how does it compare back then?
My biggest challenges while starting out is definitely not being able to fully trust my vision as an artist, since I was still developing it. I wasn’t quite sure about who I was artistically yet. Finding what your art is and its style, what it will express and look like (while also being able to put your personal touch in it), is such a tricky and painful road that every artist has to take, and it was very hard for me to do it.
While starting out I also had to face another huge challenge, which was to prove myself to my parents since they didn’t want me to follow art as a career. It was so hard and exhausting for me to have to constantly show them that I deserved to be doing what I loved to do, and I know that this is something that a lot of artists also have to go through. Nowadays, since I have grown a lot, I have a more mature and strong mind and am able to deal with challenges way better than I did while starting out. Today the challenges that I face the most are about constructing a solid career and being able to sustain myself financially through what I do.
How do you overcome these challenges?
Getting more experience in the art field definitely helped me a lot in overcoming my challenges. I try to keep an open and clear mind to be able to learn the most I can in order to face my challenges. Growing as an individual mentally also helped me a lot, and having a great support base coming from my friends and family. Also, having access to the Internet and everything it provide to an artist also helped me a lot.
Could you share to us what motivates you to continue doing what you do?
The way art makes me feel ever since I was a kid is my biggest motivation. It's this special and a little bit magical effect in me that I can't put into words. Art itself gives me the motivation to be a better person and to live my life the fullest, it always has. Art teaches me valuable lessons and makes me feel sensations I never thought I would.
Who do you look up to or draw strength from?
I look up to the strong and resilient women that came before me and paved the way for me to be doing what I can do now. Especially WOC and LGBT women.
Sex and gender should not be the basis of someone's place in art and photography. What would be your advice for girls and women who are still starting out in the world of photography?
Never let society tell you that your vision doesn't matter. It is important and it will make a difference. Trust that thing inside of you that urges to create, only listen to it and live for it. Don't let them make you believe you have to apologize for wanting to be an artist. Even though you have been constantly undermined and doubted you are more than worthy. Don't be afraid to vicariously live for your art and for yourself.
Lastly, what are your thoughts on this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Balance for Better”?
I believe balance is the key to a better life, not only as a community in society but also individually, which is why I loved "Balance for Better" as a theme! It is something we should always strive for, and I have a lot of hope that it is a possible goal.