Meet Erica West, unassuming local photographer, Instagram darling and self-confessed Chinese food addict who lives by a “just be yourself” motto! Born and raised in Macau, Erica is part of a wave local artists making a name for themselves in the city. With her dyed blonde hair and cooler than cool style, Erica is hard to miss and yet often prefers to fly under the radar. While she credits the famous Chen Man as being one of her greatest photography influences, she only discovered her love for the art three years ago when she picked up a camera for the first time, after attending a local photography workshop.
How did you get into photography?
I remember three years ago, suddenly one day I really really wanted to buy a film camera. I searched on Google ‘’vintage film camera in Macau’’, the result popped up with the shop information. The shop was no longer open but they were still doing some classes on photography. They had one dark room class that was going to start two days after, and that’s how I started. But the funniest thing was that I had no idea about photography and no knowledge of how to use a camera. I learned all those things and finished my project ‘’women power’’ in just two months.
It was a big challenge for me and even I could believe I had actually done my exhibition. From that time onwards I started to believe I had a gift for taking photos and that’s why I’m still doing it.
Where do you Live in Macau and why?
I live in downtown Macau near Senado Square. I love that area because it’s only three min’s walk from my work and you can always see interesting people around.
What do you love about living in Macau?
Firstly, my family is here my friends are here! and I like to live in a laid-back city. Secondly, we have a peaceful and safe community here, where people are happy to help and take care of each other. The neighborhood is like a big family and you can truly feel you belong to that, which is not so normal in many other countries. I’m also lazy so Macau is good for me, I don’t need to walk too far or take to much time to get anywhere.
Where is the best place to take photos in Macau?
I like to take photos at and around the Macau tower and around the old buildings in Macau. I don’t have a specific place exactly, but I like those areas.
What is your ideal weekend in Macau?
Spending the weekend in Coloane at Hac Sa or Cheoc Van. Any place far away from the city and that’s outdoors.
If you had friends visiting Macau, what would you tell them they must do on their trip here?
What is your formula for a great night out in Macau?
That depends on who I go with, If I feel like company, group party, I would like to go to Sky 21. But if it’s just with a few close friends, I prefer Che Che or Cathedral Cafe.
How do you find the creative industries in Macau and how do you think it can be improved?
I know a lot of talented people in Macau, I mean really talented people who could be compared to an international standard, but sometimes we need to ask for help (most locals are shy), many people have ideas but they don’t know how to do them. Things like how to write a proposal to the government, and others. They could have a crazy idea, we never know if it could work or not if we never ask. But I also know a lot of people already used that way to achieved their project already.
How much of your work is planned or created on the day?
It just depends. Before a shoot, I have images in my head of how I want it to be. But when you turn up on the day to shoot and the scene is in front of you, it might be totally different to what I imagined. But usually, it stays in the same style as I imagined it.
How would you describe your photographer style?
Where do you see photography taking you?
I would like to travel around the world and take exotic photos. I much prefer to take photos of people than places and traveling would allow me to photograph so many different types of people.
What is it that you want to say with your work?
I want my photos to give people something to think about. Not just to see a beautiful or creative picture. I would like them to reflect on life, I hope my photos inspire people to be philosophical.
How do you get the photo to say what you need it to say?
It just happens. When I’m shooting or even in editing, it just happens to come together. Everything guides me in the direction I want to follow.
Follow Erica on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pg/ericawest