Kamila Stanley is a photographer and visual artist currently based in Paris. A self-taught talent, with an eye for color and detail, Kamila's photographs feel fresh and yet nostalgic, they simply draw you in and captivate you. We have featured Kamila in the first half of our two-part article Who Run the World about up-and-coming female photographers. Now, we wanted to know more about her current projects, as well as briefly talk about her directorial debut.
Hello Kamila! Before we talk about your new music video, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Hello! My name's Kamila, I'm a photographer mostly based in Europe (but currently in Brazil). I've worked with video in the past, for commercial and advertisement campaigns. But Closer is my debut as a director. It's really exciting as it's the first video project I've handled from start to finish.
You have a really keen eye for color, could you tell us what or who are have influenced or inspired the way you see the world?
I can't actually pin down where my obsession with colour comes from. I didn’t go to art school so my visual education is pretty wide-ranging and random – from the friendships I've made, all the exhibitions I've seen, the books I've had, and all the places I've travelled to. I love neon lights, Harley Weir, Elsa Leydier, Nadine Idjewere, William Eggleston, Gregory Halpern, and Novembre Magazine. I love 16mm films and 35mm photos. I'm drawn to red hues and natural light. I remember once picking up Quentin de Briey’s photo book "The Other Day", and thinking I'd never seen anything so beautiful. I was really moved as a teenager by Gaspard Noé’s "Enter the Void" and Harmony Korine’s "Spring Breakers". I spend a lot of time at a lab in Paris and I love handmade prints and contact sheets.
You have been photographing for quite a while now, how would you describe how your style or technique has evolved throughout the years?
When I started off as a photographer I was very young. I'm self-taught, and I remember my first shoots being this huge rush of adrenaline, where technically I had no clue what I was doing.
That was over 5 years ago. Throughout the years I've picked up loads of different tools, cameras, lenses, flashes, and films. I've shot with many art directors and editors who've schooled me, and in lots of different conditions – from large studio productions to working alone in the midst of salt flats, rainstorms or street carnivals. I've learnt so much about lighting, gear, and production. My visual literacy has evolved as I've discovered more of what I'm drawn to. But in terms of style, something has remained constant. I think when you're self taught, you come from somewhere that's very instinctive. Nobody's told you what was right or wrong, you've learnt the dirty way and there's something raw about being untaught. My camera of choice is still a 35mm SLR, which is the first camera I learnt to use.
Since this is your directorial debut, could you tell us any notable differences between the preparation for filming a music video and a photo shoot?
You construct an entire world from ideas in your head, which is very similar to a photo shoot. You put together mood boards, write a treatment, piece together a team, think about sets, styling, and decor. It's more the post-production that is different. I edited the video cut myself, and it's when you're sitting down with all the footage and seeing how to piece it together that you appreciate the beauty of the medium. It's super interesting to use time as a tool. You organise your scenes to fit beats, rhythms, and periods.
Do you see yourself directing more videos in the future? Or would you focus more on your photography?
I really loved directing Closer, so there'll definitely be more videos. I'm shooting a new music video this week in Paris, and I have an entire folder of references and ideas for future video projects. In photography, I shoot a lot of musicians – so it's exciting for me to now be able to consider shaping their personas through both still and moving images. However photography is my main voice because it's what I'm naturally drawn to. Photography has this immediacy that's very soothing to me. Also, as a
photographer, you can get a lot done alone. You don't need such big budgets and teams. So you have more independence and that's something I feed on.
Your frst photobook “FANTASMAS” was a really interesting piece about Post-Olympics Rio... are you planning on doing more documentary
projects in the future?
Thank you! I'm actually replying to this interview from a flight to Rio. I'm back in Brazil to shoot a new documentary series built around portraits. I can't say too much yet, but it's very much influenced by the current political climate here.
Lastly, before we get to view your music video, could you tell us a bit about the concept behind it?
Closer is a song about summer, love, and letting someone into your space. It's an intrinsically feminine track, with a very powerful, sexual undertone to it. DAYLA is an artist I love, and I felt a lot of responsibility as it was the first time she was showing herself to the world. When I first listened to the track, it reminded me of when you dive underwater – and all our senses are amplified, almost numbing. I wanted DAYLA swimming in this pool of glistening, undulating water to conjure all these feelings of sensuality and promiscuity, but also keep her somewhat hidden and preserved. Throughout the song, images flicker on the surface of this water – fleeting shards of DAYLA's world. Yet as we piece together her persona, a part of enigma is always maintained. Her face appears underwater, behind layers of fabric, and between rays of light. We're on the very edge of her realm, but it's difficult to break in. There are a lot of very tactile images, which we wanted to resemble ASMR videos: hands stroking, squeezing, and poking random objects, lips licking and biting, honey dripping. All these rush together in a sensory, almost sedative climax. The water becomes more troubled and wavy to fit the song's different sections. With the last beat, the sound washes over us. I was lucky to work with a brilliant team who really made these ideas unfold, and with Joseph GUY who is a very talented director of photography.