They show us the adventurous and spontaneous side of life, capturing road trips with friends and sun-kissed beauties with honey blonde hair – all with analogue photography and video (35mm, polaroid, super 8, you name it). Here we talk with Vanessa Hollander, one half of the photography duo Wiissa, about their name, travels, photographic muses and more.
“We’re Vanessa and Wilson, 19 and 20 years old. We’re both from Miami, but Wilson’s originally French and I’m American/Brazilian. We’ve been together for about 5 years and started doing photography together. We started out by mainly using each other as our subjects for photos, and have been trying to expand to other subjects since. We’ve learned and grown in photography by shooting each other. We shoot exclusively film, and try to use ourselves or our friends in all of our photos and videos.”
Tell us about your photography name ‘Wiissa’ and how it was born. When we first met, at 14 and 15, we decided to make each other nick names. I started calling him wii, he called me ssa, and we started calling ourselves wiissa basically from the first day we met!
What do you hope to translate through your images and is there a specific underlying theme you tend to work with? We just like working with styling and going for a particular era or look when setting up shoots. We don’t really have a particular theme for all of our photos, but lately we have been getting into recreating specific time periods or subcultures. We also mostly photograph girls, and try to convey some of our feminist beliefs in our photos. We try not to appeal to the male gaze, and we like to feature girls in active roles. It’s pretty subtle, but it’s always on our minds while we’re working.
So many of your images evoke a sense of wanderlust & adventure. What has been your favourite place to travel to and photograph thus far? We took a roadtrip across France this summer just for photos, so that has definitely been our favorite place so far! We have an endless list of places we want to go to though, so hopefully 2014 will be full of travel for us! My astrologist grandmother told me it would!
Your thoughts on #buyfilmnotmegapixels?
We both love using film, because of its nostalgic quality that comes from the grain and imperfections, which we think closely mimic the quality of our memories. If our photos can do anything, I hope they inspire people to buy film cameras. We’ve got to keep film alive!
Sisters Amanda & Emilia seem to be your photographic muses and appear in most of your shots – fashion related and personal. Tell us a bit about your relationship with the girls. Emilia and Amanda are my best friends since 3rd grade! We met at elementary school in Miami, got through those tough middle school years together, and we’re now all in NYC. They’ve grown up modeling for their mother, a vintage collector, so they’re very comfortable and natural in front of the camera. I can’t believe I ended up doing photography and being so lucky to have models as best friends. We work really well together since we’ve known each other for so long, and I don’t think anything really beats working with your friends.
The song you have on repeat at the moment?
Baby by Os Mutantes
Do you ever find yourself being photographically inspired by a certain musical artist, song, or lyric? YES! Music is our main source of inspiration, and we’re starting to get into photographing musicians too. It’s not always a specific song or verse that inspires us, sometimes it can just be a band, their whole aesthetic and vibe. We love a lot of 60’s French music, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin are our favorites! We also love a lot of New York bands, old and new, and their ability to capture the city’s energy. It’s kind of hard to directly trace down inspiration, but we’re almost always listening to music when we come up with a photo idea!
What’s up next for Wiissa? Hopefully we’ll get into some more commercial work this year! We’re just trying to reach out to as many people as possible so we can take even more photos. We’re trying to get more into video, and we have a video series we’re hoping to work on soon!
Where can our readers find you and your work?