Looking through the lens of Marc Santos

The rise of social media and photo sharing has helped establish photography as a popular hobby and career path. In Toronto alone, there are hundreds of photographers on Instagram sharing everything from cityscape images to avant-guard editorial shots. That said, great photography goes beyond mastering technical elements. It requires stylistic flare and creative vision.

Marc Santos is a 22-year old photographer studying a Bachelor of Arts in photography at Sheridan College. His art incorporates movement, colour and a unique sense of drama. Marc's most recent work is especially interesting because it includes the use of different mediums to create dimension, texture and mood.

We had the chance to speak with Marc about his work, inspiration and process of bringing a photo concept to life.

Photos by Sara Sleiszig

Winslow: How did you get into photography? 

Marc: I got into photography in high school. I got involved with the school yearbook and became one of the photographers. Eventually, I became the only photographer because I was always volunteering to shoot whatever events were happening in the school. It helped that I got into events for free, which usually meant free food.

Winslow: Who are your influences? 

Marc: I have so many influences both inside and outside of photography. Anything from movies to music to paintings. I find I go through phases where I'll be really into one artist or several different influences, and I'll study their work or process constantly. Then when I feel the need to find inspiration, I'll search for new influences.

Winslow: How would you describe your style of photography and the images you capture?

Marc: I'm still trying to figure that out. I look at my more recent work and it's very different from work I've done in the past. Not to say that I don't enjoy my older work, it's just different to how I shoot now. I'm not trying to reinvent myself, I'm just exploring the ideas I have. Whether or not they are successful is always up for debate. If I had to describe my work now, I guess it would be more of a fine art or conceptual style.

Photos by Marc Santos

Winslow: How have your personal experiences shaped your style or helped you hone your style of photography?

Marc: My personal experiences are always influencing me. I was actually in an art program at Sheridan before I got into photography, and I feel like that program really shaped the type of subjects I'm interested in shooting and my style of shooting. I think honing in on a style is something that develops naturally, but consciously at the same time. That description may not make much sense, but it's almost like a balancing act. As a photographer, you find what you enjoy shooting and keep exploring it... but the exploration and process is something that comes from the photographer's inner motivations.

Winslow: Describe the process in which you bring a photo shoot concept to fruition.

Marc: My process for every shoot is different. Some shoots are fully thought out from the posing to the lighting. Others, are just me going into the studio with a simple idea and seeing what I can do with it on set. I also have a book filled with written ideas dated back to January 2016 all the way up until now. These ideas include drawings of light diagrams and my visions of what final images should look like. I like keeping track of my ideas because it allows me to develop them, add to them and to know that what I have is a strong idea worth shooting.

Acrylic Series by Marc Santos

Winslow: In your more recent work, you've included abstract concepts including photos of models through broken glass or acrylic. What was the inspiration behind this and how did you develop the concept behind these shoots? 

Marc: The glass series was something that came naturally. I was at work one day and noticed these clear acrylic blocks. I found them interesting because of how it repeated and reflected whatever was behind it. Soon after that shoot that I wanted to try shooting using different materials, so I did a shoot with my friend Sarah using broken glass. That's what I mean by inspiration sometimes being natural. In this case, it was a simple idea that I don't think would have happened the way it did if I wasn't inspired by the acrylic blocks first.

Broken Glass Series by Marc Santos, Model is Sarah Watts/@wetsausages

Winslow: What message do you hope to send through your work? 

Marc: The images I create are something that I hope people remember and think about. I have done work in the past with the intent of conveying a message, but in my more recent work I would say it's more about an idea or an approach I want to explore and less about a message.

Winslow: Most of your photos have human subjects. Can you describe the role your models play in bringing your photo concepts to life? How do you collaborate? 

Marc: When it comes to shooting people, I always think about the whole image. Where they are in the frame, how they interact in the space and with the camera, etc. I always look for people who do more than just try to look good for the camera. That's why working with Sarah for the glass series was so great. She photographs well, she's comfortable and confident, she brings so much energy and she's inspired to move in ways that most people wouldn't think to. I think what Sarah brought to that shoot and the way she worked with the space and glass brought the concept to life and made the finals feel visually strong.

Broken Glass series by Marc Santos, Model: Sarah Watts/ @wetsausages

Winslow: Describe the photography scene and community in Toronto and the GTA.

Marc: The photography scene in Toronto and the GTA is really diverse, but I personally have never found myself saying that I'm part of those scenes. I find the work that often comes out of that scene has a very specific look, and I don't shoot in that way. Not to say it's a bad thing or a good thing, I just feel like the people around me and I all have very different styles when it comes too shooting.

Winslow: Society is pretty crazy right now, with certain groups spreading hate and intolerance for various races, sexual orientations and genders. Can you speak to the importance of art forms, like photography, that have the power to promote a community of creative expression, acceptance and individuality in today's society? 

Marc: I think in any art form people should approach it as a chance to say something. I know earlier I said my work doesn't usually have a message behind it, but I think creating anything leaves people with the opportunity to interpret, and this can lead to some really positives things- whether that was the artist's initial intention or not. The world is becoming more open to art and there are huge platforms in which it can be to viewed on. It's all changing and everyone can bring something new to the table.

Photo by Marc Santos

Follow Marc's work on Instagram @marcsantos.

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