In Focus: The Photographers of SuicideGirls feat. Sawa
Apr 2012 17

In Focus: The Photographers of SuicideGirls feat. Sawa

Posted In All Things SG,Art,Blog,Photography

by Nahp Suicide


[Above: Sawa in Fascination Game shot by Zoetica]

Sawa is a model and a photographer who has worked with SuicideGirls since 2004. She has shot more than 100 sets and has been featured in SG’s films.

How did you first get involved with SuicideGirls?

I first started with Suicide Girls as a model. It was about 8 years ago. Missy shot me in my friend’s Hollywood apartment at dusk. I have to admit, one of my main motivations for getting in the mix for SG was to get on the other side of the camera too. I was already shooting a bit and convincing my friends to get naked for me.



What’s your background photography-wise?

Originally I took some photo classes at a few community colleges. I did some darkroom classes at Pierce College and did the whole photo program at Pasadena City College. But back then everything was shot on film. I remember I once spent a few years only shooting on 4″x5″ film. I had to re-learn a lot of things when I switched to digital. 
I also learn a lot from working on set. I do camera work on commercials and movies, and I’d say this is where I have done the most learning. They light things differently. I used to use only flash and natural light, and now I’ve become partial to continuous lighting. 



[Moxi in Revenge]

What was the first photo you had published?

That’s hard to say. I think some of the first photos I had published were in the metal scene. I’m pretty sure it was for my friend Chris Dodge’s label Slap-a-ham. I shot a lot of grindcore and noise bands back then and he put some of my black & white photos in the “Short Fast and Loud” compilation. I think most of my early published photos had to do with bands.



How would you describe your style?

I think certain styles or “looks” vary per shoot and what you are going after. I do like certain photos to look like a still out of a movie instead of a posed portrait. When I’m not shooting SG stuff, I like a lot of conceptual portraits. One of the trademark series I have been doing is my “Viva Banditas” series and those are a bit more raw and gritty and street art style. 




What gear do you use?

Usually a Canon 5D. Lately I’ve been shooting a lot more Polaroids. When I shoot film I use a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. I also have a panoramic camera and a whole collection of vintage medium format cameras. I also have a LOT of fun with Diana and Holga cameras.

For lighting my favorite portrait light is a gem ball (learned this from movie lighting), and I use Diva Kino lights a lot. Sometimes I use strobes…and for outdoor shooting it’s always good to carry a shiny bounce. 




[Friskey in Road Trip]

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

Sometimes you can create a cool look with Photoshop but I believe all of your exposure control should be done in camera. I would never want to rely on Photoshop to save an image. I try to be consistent throughout a shoot. Photoshop can definitely help polish an image, which is good for fashion stuff. But for SuicideGirls we like the girls to be real so I think it’s important to not go too heavy on the Photoshop.



What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing sets?

I love shooting inspiring girls that naturally give you great ideas. It’s such a treat to shoot a muse like that. I also get a lot of ideas from music. I sometimes get images in my head of an idea for a shoot and I have to write it down or else I will forget it for sure.




[Amina in One For The Road]

What is your favorite image?

Impossible! It’s too hard to narrow it down. 





Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph that you haven’t?

As far as the site goes, I’ve been really lucky to shoot some amazing girls from around the world. I still haven’t shot Lass or Manko and I hope that will come soon. I have ideas for both of those girls!
In general, I have ideas to last me for like the next 10 years and a huge blessing would be to one day have the time to devote myself full time to these projects. And just to add more things to my plate, I’m in prep to start directing some music videos. In the meantime, I’ve also started running a gallery in the arts district of Downtown LA (Get Her! La Compound gallery) so I’m getting a huge kick out of collaborating with other fellow artists. Everything from street art, to fine art, and most definitely photography. I sometimes wish there were more hours in the day.

For more on Sawa visit: thesawa.com and lacompound.com


[Sarabi in Super]


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