Teresa C. Freitas is a lingering Instagram A-list crush of ours. Her style is unique and she seems to have found the perfect niche following. Teresa’s pastel-dominated feed can serve as the perfect infusion of dreamy thoughts and creative inspiration — especially when you need to cook up an artsy colour palette. Her way of playing with colours gives every image a strangely tender and enchanting subtlety. Due to these cleverly schematic snaps, the Lisbon native has been invited to collaborate with the likes of international brands like Chloé, Kenzo, and Adobe to create cinematic snapshots.
Recently, Teresa has been venturing into new photography territories. Read on to find out what she’s on to next, her cure for creative slumps, and some tips for building a strong following on social media.
You have a very unique and defining style. Can you tell us what the process of finding that style has been like for you? What can you recommend to other photographers trying to find their niche?
The process was and is, mainly, about time. Spending a lot of it on editing software and figuring out what I wanted to change, and how I could change it — that elementary curiosity of “what does this button do?” When I started traveling more, I started to realize just how much you could work with colour to shape an image and give a subtle strangeness to a place, as something that exists at the same time that it doesn’t. I’ve always been attracted to tinted colours, so that wasn’t really a decision but a natural outcome. More and more, I want to give a cinematic look to the photos I take, so that’s what I’m always trying to reach when choosing what to photograph and how to edit it. For the record — since I’m asked this so often — I don’t use presets. I edit each set of pictures (from a day, a place, a person, etc.) individually in Lightroom.
I never felt like I’m in a position to recommend something to others, I’m still trying to figure a lot of stuff out. I’m not even sure how I got here.
I think I’ll emphasize a piece of general advice: figure out what you want to get better at, if you haven’t yet, and spend most of your available time trying to improve it.
Is there a reason for the dominant pastel tones of your work?
I don’t think there’s a purely rational basis for my colour preference when shooting and editing. Pastel colors give a dreamlike and tender surface to images that I can appreciate — it’s one way of experiencing visual pleasure, and the positive feedback I received from it helps reinforce it.
How has growing up in Lisbon influenced your photography?
That’s a difficult question as I have no comparison and experience from growing up in another place. Because I live here, a lot of pictures are taken here.
I think growing up in the Internet age has influenced my photography more than the place I live in.
I could give you some characteristic points that come together in that context: Lisbon has a lot of light (a special one in fact), pastel-coloured buildings, and is very close to the sea. These are definitely things you will find in my images. But maybe watching Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies, discovering my father’s photographs when I was 14, playing Nintendo video games, or spending hours in Microsoft Paint had a bigger influence on my photography style than the city I grew up in.
What do you do to get out of a creative slump?
I guess I suck it up. Photography is what I love doing, and it comes easy, so I never felt like not wanting to do it.
I also believe you don’t have to feel creative in order to create.
I just start doing something and eventually things come together and I’m able to create something I’m happy with. I also write down every idea that comes to my mind whether I’m at home, with friends or at the supermarket — this usually helps in future collaborations, as I’m able to incorporate some of them somehow when creating content for brands.
hat does a perfect shoot day look like for you?
If I have natural light to work with, then it’s perfect enough. I do have some preferences: a sunny day with scattered clouds; a more pale sunset where the light is soft and not so orange; wandering through a place without any commitments; working with flowers and fruits.
You’ve built an impressive Instagram following. Any tips on building a strong following as a creative?
I think this brings us back to something you mentioned in the first question: “finding your niche.”
Where do you draw inspiration from? Who are some of your favourite artists, and how have they influenced your thinking, photography, and career path?
Being on Instagram really helps the creative juices flowing — each and every single day there is always at least one image by someone out there that inspired me. That’s why I always feel it’s a little unfair to mention one artist over the other, or even over the not-an-artist person that posted something beautiful. I always had a big admiration for Jimmy Marble, whom I discovered some years ago. His work as a whole is a big, big inspiration!
I’m not sure I can pinpoint an exact artist or artists that influenced my thinking, photography and career path. That’s a heavy load. I think that lies more in personal, educational and work experience; together they have shaped and continue shaping my thinking, photography and career path.
People mostly recognize my images through my editing style. So, in most cases, I can shoot what I want and keep it consistent as long as I keep faithful to that. When it comes to content creation, I also love doing stop-motion or and I don’t do them in non-sponsored posts — so that’s something most people already expect and aren’t surprised by when I pop one of these up from time to time.
What is one project or set of images that you’re really proud of right now?
I adventured in my first, and small, fashion editorial in March this year. I always wanted to take more pictures of people purposely posing for me in a specific scenario (in this case, outdoors). No surprise that fashion photography is one of the best ways to do it, so I was extremely happy to collaborate with a Portuguese brand and make it happen. I’m happy about how the pictures turned out.
I definitely want to try new things around this idea — this first project gave me a boost of confidence and, very importantly, visual content in the right context to show to fashion brands, so I can use it to propose working with them.
What’s next for you?
There’s something I’m excited about that I will have to give you more details about in the near future. I’m sure it will be a great opportunity to develop myself as an artist — and to help my goal in making a living out of it. Fingers crossed.