Photography, Life and Balance with Ana Santl

In the Blink of an Eye

Creative Conversation

“Some say that I see the world in a poetic way, and perhaps it’s true. I do try to find beauty everywhere.” Her personal work is an album of fleeting moments and treasured memories, and as photographer Ana Santl is currently situated in Greece, her latest photographs are engulfed in the warm Grecian sun.

Ana was born in Slovenia but moved abroad at the age of 15, and has lived in several places in Europe since: From Austria to Copenhagen. By living outside her home country most of her life, it has raised the question of what home actually is. “Greece is the fifth country I live in, this apartment is my 16th home,  and by now I have noticed that I will be a stranger regardless of where I live, and at the same time, I can feel at home outside the traditional definition of home,” she shares.

Under the sun

Greece has, however, been love at first sight. Ana herself suspects that it is the welcoming factors of the warm light, people greeting her, her husband and their son on the orange-lined streets, the woman at the photo lab who remembers her email by heart. In other words: The people, who welcome her family with kindness and empathy.

It is this sensation that Ana hopes to convey with her latest series of photographs from The Summer Memories Collection.

“These photos are preserved in-between moments, the feeling I once had, things I saw on the way, and the light caught after long days of photo shoots.” The photographs are shot on analogue film, which Ana uses to separate her personal and professional work. Compared to fast-paced digital photography, working with analogue film gives moments of pause. There is a limit of exposures, Ana explains, that allows for only certain snapshots to be actually captured. The risk of technical imperfections becomes part of the story.

“I’m hoping that my work can serve as a mental holiday for those who decide to put them in their homes. And that they will make the viewer smile as much as they made me smile and stop as I took them.”

Caught on film

Ana was first introduced to photography when she got a point-and-shoot Olympus camera from her father when she was around 10 years old. “I would take it along on school trips. We had the photos developed and printed and I would then sort them in albums that I showed to my friends,” Ana tells.

Even though shooting with analogue film is her first encounter with photography, her love of the media did not linger. During her photography education, it was mandatory to learn about and handle analogue film. “The fact that you could mix up the chemicals and everything would vanish in an instant was quite scary,” she says and continues: “However, the way that time passed in its own way in the darkroom, watching the photographs appear grew on me. It is a process I would love to revisit later in life.”

When working with analogue film today, Ana’s approach is intuitive and spontaneous, giving her photographs the air of diary entries from memorable days: The sea on a hot summer’s day, empty dining tables, citruses left on the kitchen counter, and the shadow playing across the skin.

Standing still

Knowing that Ana has moved around more than most, it might not surprise that she uses her creative work to find stillness. It is a balancing act for someone like Ana who also loves to explore the world and has dedicated her career to travel and interior photography.

“My aspirations are to find a balance between work and family life, between exploring the world and learning how to stand still, between observing and preserving moments.”

Part of her search for calm is intricately connected with the notion of a home. For even though Ana can make most temporary places feel like home, she is looking forward to finding a place to grow roots: A physical space, a place of rest with rooms of arranged sentiments and traces of the people living there. “I’m hoping to soon find a more permanent home for our family, where we don’t have to pack and unpack and where our son can leave his boxes behind once he falls in love and moves out,” she says.