Sofia Rooney, a photographer and videographer based in Malta and the US, creates images and stories about femininity, womanhood, youth, and anything and everything else that is beautiful in the world. We catch up with her to get an inside look about the ups and downs of working in the industry.
1. DO YOU HAVE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEO EDITOR OR DID YOU LEARN THE ROPES THROUGH TRIAL-AND-ERROR ?
I partially completed studies for videography and photography, but found myself learning by myself far more effectively. I have been fortunate enough to have been trusted by various people who likely saw potential in me. Through that and constantly striving to make more whenever and wherever I can, I learned more and more. It is most certainly through trial and error that I learned the most. Picking up my camera and going for it, regardless of whether the outcome turned out as I foresaw or not. There is always further to go and more to learn.
2. WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF BEING IN THE INDUSTRY?
Well, the industry here is difficult in itself, particularly as a woman. I can feel people rolling their eyes right now, but it’s true. I have very often been met with assumptions of my being the ‘assistant’ or being asked ‘where the filming crew is’., and it has been very evident that it was purely because of my gender. Comments on my equipment, and recommendations I never asked for, are a more common occurrence than can be explained away. This is one great aspect that makes an already difficult industry to navigate alone more tiresome. Nonetheless, it’s just another excuse to always work harder and ensure I place my focus and energy on the goal at hand. Another great difficulty is the notion held by a great number of people that videography/photography is not a profession. The clichè of being asked to work for free or for ‘exposure’ is very real, and to have to explain over and over again why one deserves to be paid for work can hinder one’s drive to move forward.
3. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BEST PART ABOUT IT?
Now, there are much more positives than there are negatives. I work for myself, which has been my aim ever since I was very young. Having that freedom is vital for me. It pushes me daily to work harder and learn more, as it gives me full responsibility over where I am going, and provides me with no excuses to fall back on.
Probably the greatest part about it however, is always being somewhere new and meeting new people. I’ve always loved telling human stories, because I adore people and I really believe every single person has a story to tell, and when given the platform to tell that story, we can move to accepting and listening to each other far more. I want to know and tell the story of as many people as I can, and capturing them so timelessly is what makes me want to always do more.
4. WHICH WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PROJECT YOU’VE WORKED ON AND WHY? WHICH WAS THE MOST ENJOYABLE?
The most challenging has been the most enjoyable for me so far. If I had to choose just one, it was when I worked as an AC on a documentary with the wonderful filmmaker Tim Lewis (Handcrafted Films). I can’t say much about it, as it isn’t out yet, however it challenged me and taught me so much, primarily due to the way he works as a filmmaker and the people we met through the project. It challenged many notions I had of filmmaking in itself, gave me an even greater enjoyment for the craft, and also gave me a new appreciation for Malta itself, as I viewed it from a very different perspective.
5. HOW MUCH DIRECTION TO YOU TAKE FROM THE CLIENT? DO THEY DECIDE THE LOOK OR DO YOU SUGGEST THE LOOK FOR A VIDEO/VIDEO SERIES TO THEM?
It all depends on the content itself. I have vlogged for some clients for a few years, and throughout this period I have worked with them on varying styles and ever-changing perspectives. I like to listen and take into consideration what any client says when producing something, however, I will never compromise what I believe is the best way to portray something. I think if you are confident enough in the way you work and how you see and capture everything, then clients are very open to going along with your ideas. After all, they must be hiring you for a reason. There always has to be a mutual understanding of wants, needs and artistic freedom.
6. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED, WHICH INFLUENCES YOUR WORK ON A DAILY BASIS?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that every single person’s story is worth telling and that it is vital to portray it in the most honest way possible, and that every story is important. No matter if it’s a fictional piece that takes you out of this world for a few minutes, or whether it’s telling the story of a woman who has never had her voice heard before, every story needs to be approached with honesty, and I always try to be honest with myself, first and foremost, when filming or photographing anything therefore allowing whoever is on camera to be honest with themselves too.
7. WHAT TYPES OF PROJECTS WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE WORKING ON IN THE FUTURE?
All of them! All the projects! Any project I can get my hands on. But in all honesty I hope to move into directing feature length films, and photographing as much as I can. Also writing scripts, as writing was always my first love. I hope to focus on writing and directing fictional pieces, but I also adore documentary. I can’t choose! I hope to do as much as I can.
8. DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING EVENTS/CAMPAIGNS/ PROJECTS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
I am always working on something new, and am currently building up my website with as much as I can. I am writing a couple of short films and working on a photo series right now which I hope to produce as soon as possible. I cannot say much right now in order not to spoil them, but watch this space!
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine