Interview by Mia Kingsley
Vanessa and Wilson are the two halves that make up photography duo Wiissa, they share their lives and photographic ambitions together, making some seriously cool photo sets and planning even more for the future, including a 60s themed space shoot! After stumbling across an editorial of theirs featuring the fabulous ‘Miss Crofton’ lingerie I tracked them down for a ‘Mia Meets…’ interview. Their photos of girls and surroundings are sun kissed, full of beauty, simplicity and freshness so much so that every time I visit their website I instantly want to jump in a pool and go on a road trip! We chat about empowering girls, inspirations, the 70s, the 60s and how the couple became. Meet Wiissa… The dream team!
So you first met when you were 14 & 15, how did you meet and how did your friendship develop?
We both lived on the same small island in Miami, so we had a lot of mutual friends. We eventually met through friends and started dating about a week later…
How did your relationship develop into a photography duo?
Wilson had a digital camera that we would just photograph each other with. We already started calling ourselves Wiissa and started posting some photos online for fun. For my 16th birthday, Wilson got me a 35mm film camera and that’s when we started getting more into photography. Wilson also got a film camera shortly after and we kept developing and learning about photography from practice.
Have you both always been creative?
Wilson definitely always has been. He was homeschooled and would have a lot of time by himself, so he taught himself a lot of photoshop and worked in graphic design since he was 12. I wasn’t really too creative, but I used to make a lot of stupid videos with my friends growing up hahah!
Do you have different roles? Do you both take the photos?
We both take photos, but for the most part it’s me coming up with the ideas of the shoots and Wilson doing the more technical work. The work is evenly divided but we don’t really have specific roles. We just kind of do it all together.
Your photos are focused a lot on girl culture, a visual diary of your activities, with a documentary feel… tell us about your style, and what you like to photograph?
I have two sisters and grew up with only girl friends and now go to a women’s college, so photographing girls is just what comes naturally to me. When Wilson and I got together, he started being around all my friends too and it just naturally became the thing to photograph – my friends and whatever we’d be doing that weekend. Now we’re trying to convey some of our feminist values in our work with girls in action, rather than being passive and objectified. It’s definitely subtle in our work but it’s something we constantly think about when photographing.
Your also experimenting with shoots that are themed, what sort of themes are you looking into?
We’ve been going so crazy with our thoughts of themes, it’s hard to buckle down to one and get started. We want to do intense 70’s disco, Brazilian samba theme, 90’s x-girls, z-girl skaters (instead of the 1970’s z-boys)…buuuut we’re finally starting to plan a 1960’s inspired space/futuristic shoot. Hopefully we can work on some of the rest this summer!
A 60s space themed shoot!! That sounds fun, tell us why you want to do that…
Space age style and 1970’s futuristic design has always been a huge inspiration of ours, but we’ve never directly incorporated it into our photos. We’re finally gonna start doing that with a space girls shoot, which will hopefully become a series we continue with a lot of girls.
How would you describe your style, in 5 words!
Colourful, nostalgic, girls… haha that’s all I’ve got!
You say when you take photos you want to ‘portray girls in active roles and try not to appeal to the male gaze’ How do you achieve this, and why do you think this is important?
I think it’s always important to see things in a variety of ways, not just the way a lot of the media feeds it to us, with a lot images of girls being objectified and completely passive. We’re learning more and more as we go, so these ideas might not be as apparent in our photos now as they will be in the future, but it’s something we’re always striving for. We don’t think it needs to be very extreme in order to be feminist, it can just be a slight shift away from traditional gaze and images of women in media which will start to make a difference. It’s something we’re definitely working on and always conscious of!
What and who are your inspirations?
We’re mainly inspired by music. Other than all the girl culture we’ve spoken about above, we also want to photograph musicians and bands. Music is our favorite thing everrrrrrr and we want to use whatever skills we have (photography or video) to push all the music we love forward as best as we can. Music is our numba one love, but since we don’t make any music, we want to use what we’ve got to provide visuals for our favorite music. It’s also what sparks almost all of our ideas.
What has been your proudest moment yet within your photography collaborations?
Our Bandaids shoot going onto Oyster Magazine. That shoot was a culmination of ideas we had for a while finally coming together. It was our first time properly planning the whole shoot and running with a theme, which we want to continue in the future.
What would your dream shoot consist of?
Ahh too hard to say, we’ve got too many dreams!
Whats next for you, what does the future hold?
No clue but I’ve got good feelings for 2014. We’re heading to California for the summer and I hope some exciting stuff will happen weeee
Thanks so much Wiissa!! I can’t wait for your 60s space shoot! For more of the wonderful Wiissa check out the links below: