Teresa C. Freitas is a freelance photographer based in Lisbon, Portugal, and the creator of the most beautiful painting-like pictures you can find on Instagram. Her secret is to focus on colors and manipulate them in the way that both shape and detach the images from reality.
Teresa’s work reminds us of Wes Anderson’s world. The way she combines pastel tones with minimalism and symmetry in a single frame is so aesthetically pleasing that it is hard to stop the scrolling.
By inviting viewers to look at ordinary objects in a more contemplative way, Teresa has caught the eye of many brands and she has been working with them to create fresh and creative content for their social media channels.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
28 years old child, from a village by the sea called Cascais, very close to Lisbon (Portugal). I graduated in Multimedia Art and mastered in Design & New Media by the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. While I was studying and working as a designer and videographer, I started getting opportunities to photograph with brands thanks to Instagram. I’m now a freelance photographer, designer, and videographer, still … I would love to focus solely on photography. That’s where I’m truly happy.
How did you come to develop such a style? Did you always build images this way?
It was a natural process and evolution as I also grew and matured my style and taste. When I started on Instagram as a sophomore student, I enjoyed taking pictures and doing creative editing, all through my smartphone. In college, I was taking portraits and still-life in black and white film, so it felt like a nice outlet. It was fun for some time, having a more literal surreal style, but eventually, it didn’t work for me anymore and I didn’t felt the urge to develop it further.
When I began getting collaboration proposals, I decided it would make more sense to use a digital camera. As I started to edit the raw images from my canon, I discovered a new interest in working with color and how it could shape an image. As I started traveling more, I realized that I could use my editing style to detach a place from reality, even if just subtly. Nowadays, that’s what I focus on, whatever it is I’m shooting, I try to give a cinematic look to my pictures through each edit.
What is your process between taking a picture and the final outcome?
It depends on what I’m shooting, as I try to mix it up a bit from time to time. In my travel/street shots, the process is just about long walks through a place and capturing what catches my eye – either at a distance or up close. I search for a specific light for my edits so you won’t catch me shooting at night, at dawn or on a cloudy day.
I’m also starting to get into small editorials and I enjoy the process of picking up the clothes and the location where we’ll be shooting (my models are my friends). For collaborations, the process starts with the brief, of course – I sit down and think about the theme and props I can use to bring something different of how the product/service is shown. I usually do a couple of quick sketches of my better ideas and send them over as the content proposal. Whether it’s one day or one week, I like gathering what I need and giving myself time in the morning to prepare everything so I can shoot in the afternoon. And then edit at night.
What are your sources of inspiration?
What isn’t? I look at a lot of things online all the time – for me, this is where you find that inspiration is everywhere. Instagram is a great place to give and to absorb – every day there is at least one image that gets me inspired to create something new.
How is it like being an artist in Portugal?
I’m not really inside the artist-scene in Portugal – but I can speak from my own experience where opportunities to work within the Portuguese market seem limited for photographers like myself. I work mainly with brands from other countries, which is one of the greatest advantages of having a presence on Instagram. My audience is mainly based in the US and UK, for example. The fact is I can’t say for sure that if I lived next door e.g. in Spain, it would mean I’d get a lot more opportunities and have a fulfilled life as an artist or freelancer. I’d say being an artist in Portugal is probably the same as being an artist in many other places, you struggle to do what you love.
How do you make sure proposals keep coming and reach out to brands for collaborations?
This was actually not a concern until recently, because I didn’t expect to be able to have enough collaborations in one year to consider being a full-time photographer. Now that I realize that it’s something I absolutely love and want to do for the rest of my life, I’m slowly starting to figure that out. Let me know if you have any tips! I’m trying to show that although I want to keep a consistent and coherent editing style, this can work in a lot of different subjects within the world of content creation.
I didn’t reach out to brands for collaboration before, but that’s something I’m planning to start doing. I have some ideas in mind and that’s what I’m betting on right now – creativity: bringing something new that catches the brands interest and opens a possible opportunity to work together… I hope it works!
What was your most rewarding project so far?
I have a few that I’m especially proud of, but I have to say that a new project is the most rewarding because, besides bringing new excitement and new ideas, it allows me to continue being a freelancer and doing what I love, at least for a little bit longer.
Do you have any pieces of advice for someone trying to pursue an artistic career?
Sometimes you will struggle to find or develop your style and identity. Don’t give up, it all falls into that. You need to have something to be recognized by. Absorb a lot of art, images, stories. Try different subjects and understand which ones you felt best at, or the ones you want to get better at. Spend time doing what you want to do. It’s fine if you don’t feel motivated or inspired – you don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it.
If your images had sound, what music would they play?
A mix from the videogame Banjo-Kazooie gameplay and birds chirping in a spring morning. Maybe Daydream in Blue by Monster I.