It is no surprise that Priscilla Gragg’s hails from the vibrant city of São Paulo, Brazil. Priscilla photographs beam and bounce with life. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children she works both as a Fashion and lifestyle photographer. She has an impressive list of clients such as Abercrombie & Fitch Kids, Band-Aid, Disney Baby, Nike, Milk Magazine and GAP just to name a few. Having taught preschool, worked as an Au Pair and having experienced motherhood herself, Priscilla specializes in beautiful portraiture of children. And not to mention her noble dedication to giving back. Since 2016, she offers portrait sessions for which part of the proceeds go towards purchasing new toys for children in need during the holidays.
- Coco -
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Creative, positive, easygoing.
How did you find photography? How has it evolved for you?
My story traces back to a really really long time ago. I am the third generation photographer in my family. My grandfather was a photojournalist back in the 40's for a newspaper called 'El Diario', which is Bolivia's oldest newspaper (since 1904) and its still running! My father also worked for the same newspaper in La Paz until they migrated in 1971. My Dad worked at a photo lab in Sao Paulo (where he met my Mom!) while working as a photographer in the weekends. He still works in photography in Brazil although he's is now more involved in photo editing and retouching, he also retouches my images along with my little sister.
I went to college to study languages, Portuguese and English. Once I graduated I wanted to improve my English so I took an exchange program and came to America as an Au Pair. During my stay I watched three adorable children in Vail, Colorado and took so many pictures of them. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when the program was over I went on a 6 month backpack trip, with my now husband, and had a lot of fun photographing our adventures.
Childhood memories of always being surrounded by my dad’s precious cameras, his excitement about photography and the images I had just created during the trip made me think that perhaps, I would enjoy being a photographer. I am self taught and not very technical at all. If you ask me what kind of camera I shoot with, there will be a whole lot of “hummm, it is the humm, the Canon something model?” I never once read a manual. In a way, i think it has played to my own advantage as I had no rules in photography and just had to figure it out and follow my own instincts. So as you can imagine, from the day I picked up a camera to be a photographer about 13 years ago till now, my skills have evolved tremendously but that sense of carefree and rule breaker is still within me and I never want to let go of that!
What is your creative process like?
Because my focus is children's photography, I feel like I can be really free in the creative process, it is always a bit different but sometimes I like to give photographs a story or a narrative first, imagining it is a movie I am watching. What would the kids be doing? What would they be saying? How would they be going from point A to point B? Where would they be? What would they be looking at? What would sparkle a reaction? I see everything I will be taking in my head before the shoot. I have a clear understanding of what I need to capture and I am quick to do so as there is no time when photographing children. Their attention span is super short so I have to make the most of it. I do a lot of research for references and I love looking at vintage images of kids. I pay close attention to body language and direct the kids I am working with as needed.
Where is home for you?
I live in California.
What inspires you?
My children, Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Art), fashion, nature, traveling, music, movies, painting, design, friends, family… so many things… I am a little sponge, my eyes are always open, my heart is always feeling and my mind is always dreaming.
What advice would you offer to your younger self?
Oh yes, 9 years ago I would have said:“Listen Priscilla, congrats on your pregnancy…. I need you to know that having children of your own will NOT end your photography career that you have built so far, rather It will inspire you to create more than you have ever before, so suck it up!”
What are you dreaming of?
I am dreaming of traveling with my daughters Naya and Bia to Brazil during summer. We will be there for a full month and I am so excited to help them improve their Portuguese and play Capoeira with the locals!