Interview with Mardiana Sani, Featured Photographer for ISSUE #11

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I don’t get out much. I have a lot of friends who I spend time with individually but I don’t hang around with a clique. Most situations spent in circles I find is filled with either small talk, or people feeling the incessant need to be heard by talking over one another. I also tend to live in phases. I’ll spend a few months going all out, then I’ll get tired and I take it easy for a while.


What do you intend to convey as a photographer?

I’m not sure! Sometimes I have a definite message for the viewers but most of the time, I just have an imagination that I’d like to share – one that I think doesn’t live in other people’s minds. The quote I always think about when I’m planning a series is one by Paul Arden: “When it can’t be done, do it. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist.”

If an idea springs in my mind that I feel people might not have thought of, I go ahead with it.

Is money an important motivation in what you do?

It can’t be. Even at the highest point of my career, I would not be raking in as much as top creative directors, models and editors in the industry. In a way, it’s quite healthy. Since money is never a selling point, I never dream of unrealistic luxury. I do, however, dream of owning humble homes in multiple cities at a time.
But what truly motivates me as a photographer is the lifestyle. I get to work at my own pace and tailor my career according to personal needs as an artist.

What or who are the biggest influences to your work?

People. I find that most photographs only truly come alive when there’s a person in it. As the youngest in the family, I spent a lot of my earlier years observing my siblings and parents – making sense of their worlds before really focusing on mine. Because of that, I find that I have quite a genuine curiosity of individuals and the reasons for their being a certain way.

My partner James Mauger who’s also a photographer also plays a big role in my process as a quality controller. We both pay a lot of attention to detail but very differently. By sharing our passion for precision, we end up producing better work – after some heavy bantering!

Has your work visibly evolved or changed over time? What drove these changes?

Immensely. I think everyone (creative or not) strives for improvement and you can’t advance without changing your work a little. Over the past six years of my photography, a lot of these changes have happened quite unintentionally, as I tend to work more instinctively rather than tactically. Because I’m an emotional person, I reckon my work reflects how I feel about where I am in life at any given moment.

Do you think your work conveys a certain sense of your own character or personality to the viewer?

It definitely does. But I do attempt to leave a little space for the imagination every time I create an image. That space I find is essential in letting people make up their own minds as to how they feel about the work and more importantly, what they could potentially take away from it.

Share with us a film, book or piece of art you recently came across that you loved.

I’m quite selective with what I watch. When I find things I love, I tend to watch them over and over. I recently saw two documentaries, The Story of The Weeping Camel and Between the Folds which I loved. I also watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi quite a while back and it’s one of my favorites.

Most of the time, I love something for the way it makes me feel. Being quite a pessimist, I tend to gravitate towards movies or documentaries that encourage, inspire and leave me with a bit of hope. Grace by Grace Coddington was also great and extremely relevant to the industry.

Find more of Mardiana’s photography  on Facebook and Tumblr.


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