We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Neves and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paula, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an immigrant living in the US, taking risks has played a huge role in my life and career. I’ve been in LA for 6 years now, leaving college, my family and friends in Brazil to start over in a new country, in a new city, with a different language. Leaving everything behind, to try my shot at the “Hollywood life.” Back then I was sure I’d be a famous screenwriter and director, and then life happened. I fell out of love with the movie industry and decided to focus on photography, the thing I had been doing as a hobby since I was 14. So there I was, taking yet another risk. Changing careers, turning down jobs to seek new ones in a completely different industry. So, by following my gut and believing in myself, taking risk has brought me to where I am today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a photographer. When I decided to take photography seriously I created a series titled “Through the Lens,” which I described as a “photo-therapy” journey. Any subject who wanted to be photographed would go through an interview process so I could get to know them better to capture their true essence. This interview allowed us both the opportunity to discover what they wanted to overcome and/or work in their personal and professional lives. Putting yourself in front of a camera is a very vulnerable process with the potential of opening wounds or triggering insecurity, so I wanted to make sure it was done tastefully and with a meaningful purpose. Honestly, it was a challenge to create a life-changing experience in a 2 hour shoot with strangers, and in addition, taking on others’ emotions and traumatic experiences was a heavy load to handle. After this experience, I changed my method a bit. I continued to take photos, mostly fashion and portrait, but now with the sole intention to “make them see themselves through my eyes.” I’ve learned that we can be our worst critics, so looking at ourselves through a different lens allows us to be kinder and more accepting of ourselves. So regardless of who my client is, my goals are to always do my best, be kind, make them comfortable and try to learn from them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friend was in town, we would start our day eating a delicious crepe at Nesmon Cafe and Boutique in Sherman Oaks. After that, we would drive to The Getty Center for some stunning architecture, art, and an amazing view of the city. We would stop to get some ice cream at Salt and Straw and head to the El Matador Beach for the mesmerizing sunset in the company of some dolphins and seals that hang around the beach. At night we would go crosstown to the Americana at Brand to see the lights and the fountain, dance to the music, and eat the most amazing pizza at Trattoria Amici. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Recently I found a notebook I used to share with my best friend Nathalia, which we would both write in when we were 17. She wrote, “Keep taking photos, you’re really good at it,” and revisiting that put so many things in perspective for me. I need to start by thanking my mom, who gave me my first camera. My aunt Lila, who has always been in love with photography and I who saw explore that field throughout my childhood. I also must thank my cousin Helena, my biggest supporter and helper. Photography has always been in my life and the people around me saw my potential even when I didn’t. I can name big photographers who are an inspiration to me now, but I want to thank the important people who played such a big role in my life to get me to where I am now. So thank you to my husband, my family, and my friends who let me take photos of them every time I want to try something new and who give me honest feedback, helping me grow.
Izzy Rocha, Giovana Dalbom, Cody Kennedy, Lindsay Byrd, Bianca Wiles, Sasha Kiyoka, Jilly, Stevie Hammork and Judy Elle, Veronica Sol, Nash Koshiro, Elii Ormond,