Step into the world of Victoria Moura, where photography and music converge to create a rich blend of artistic expression. Hailing from Los Angeles, California—a city where some sparkle and many fade—Victoria stands out as a versatile creative force, showcasing her expertise both behind the lens as a photographer and as a DJ.

All Photos: Victoria Moura // @victoriamoura

Her journey into photography began through the lens of a Sony Cybershot on trips to Brazil to visit family, eventually evolving into a career spanning surf photography, portraiture, and a distinct penchant for film. Victoria's style channels California's essence, crafting visuals that stir nostalgia for lazy summer days spent chasing waves and mischief with your closest, callow buddies.

Whilst many of Victoria's frames feel candid and raw, her photography isn't just about capturing moments; it's about connecting with her subjects on a personal level. Her process involves fostering a comfortable atmosphere where conversations flow freely, and genuine moments unfold naturally. Through her lens, she captures the essence of individuals – their passions and stories – resulting in authentic photographs.

In addition to her visual storytelling, Victoria's journey extends into the realm of music, where she intertwines her love for diverse genres, from Amapiano to baile funk, into energetic mixes and live sets – the latter transcends mere playlists; they're curated journeys that blend familiarity with discovery.

In a world where people claim to be masters of many things but often excel in none, we were eager to sit down and have a Good Chat with Victoria, who is clearly trumping the many with her Swiss Army Knife skill set.

Hey Victoria, it's great to connect across the Pacific! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m a full-time photographer and DJ. I'm first-generation Brazilian-American. Besides my art, some other things I've been loving lately include cooking, barista work, gardening, and studying interior design.

How did you get into photography? What made you pick up a camera?

Nobody in my immediate and extended family is a photographer, though my grandpa shot so many amazing photos from his time in the Navy during WWII; he definitely had a gift. Otherwise, my family consists of many interior designers, home stagers, and architects who share the same visual eye. When I was young and visited my mom’s family in Brazil, I started bringing a camera with me to show my friends back home what Brazil was like (obv pre-social media). I remember my friends and their parents telling me I took great photos, which only fuelled my excitement to keep going...

There's nothing like a little peer support, pre-social media. How did you transition from holiday snapper to paid photographer?

In high school, I raised enough money to buy my first DSLR. Soon, I was making money shooting senior portraits by word of mouth. I was so excited at the fact that I could make money taking photos – I didn’t even realise it was possible. Then, later in college, I gained a passion in surf photography and entered that whole industry, shooting for magazines, surf contests and events. The rest is history.

What was your first camera?

I wish I could give the cool guy answer like 'my first camera was a Canon AE-1,' I’m a millennial and as a true millennial, it was definitely some 2000’s Sony Cybershot digital point and shoot. I recently repurchased that camera, and I love it just as much as I did then. Full circle.

Describe your photography process and style?

Since I was introduced to photography mainly through digital cameras, I naturally love shooting film more because it presents more of a challenge, typically with medium format and 35mm. As for my style – being a California native and a former surf photographer – I believe that energy is evident through my tones and lighting. I particularly enjoy creating studio-like lighting anywhere, not just in a studio. I often find myself shooting outdoors and manipulating natural light. When it comes to shooting film, I scan all my negatives at home because I love having full control over how I scan, including the resolution size and exposure. Then, I go crazy in Adobe; I love editing. Many photographers I've met seem to hate it and delegate the work, but I'll never understand that! It's the best part. You get to see the end product and put your own style into it.

I'm one of those people who hates post, ha. I'm keen to dig into your photography style a little more. Your work often involves highlighting individuals' passions, hobbies, and unique experiences. How do you ensure that your photography resonates with a broader audience while still feeling personal and intimate?

I want the viewer to feel as if they’re part of the conversation and can find aspects they relate to in my images - perhaps they enjoy the way the subject’s home is decorated, or they share a similar hobby. I find joy and inspiration in watching someone do what they love; it motivates me. I want the viewer to find a way they can relate to the subject, even if it seems they have nothing in common on the surface.

What techniques or approaches do you use to establish a rapport with your subjects, allowing you to capture them in natural and candid moments?

When appropriate, I’ll ask the subject what they want to hear, and I will have music playing during the shoot to break the ice and keep the energy up. I always enjoy conversing with my subjects throughout the shoot about anything we naturally start talking about to make them comfortable. Depending on the situation, I make sure to mention that I want the subject/model to feel comfortable in their pose while we’re shooting because if they’re not comfortable, it will translate. If I feel like I want to work with someone again, I might take them out to lunch or dinner after a shoot or even get coffee with them prior, to start the relationship and generate comfortability.

What is your go-to camera set-up?

I don’t often show up to jobs with more than one camera body to keep things consistent, but lately, I’ve been loving my RZ! If I’m shooting street photography while on a trip or just on the go, I'll bring my Yashica T4 with me and my F5 if I have extra room. Although, lately, I’ve been enjoying keeping a Sony digital point and shoot in my purse as a daily driver. Unfortunately, film is not as affordable as it once was due to inflation, and with the digicam, I can also pass it around to friends at parties without worrying about it.

There's been quite a trend toward the lofi digicams, they're pretty fun for run-and-gun nights out. What are you packing in your Sidewalk Camera Sling?

Nikon F5 with a 50mm prime lens. This thing gets the job done, whether it’s work or play.

T4. Hands down the best 35mm point and shoot.

Extra rolls of film. Right now, it’s some Portra 400 & 800. Always want to be prepared for the conditions.

Chapstick. A must. You might be in the desert or on top of a mountain and need that hydration.

Sunglasses. Definitely my favorite accessory– thankfully, it protects my eyes too.

Airpods. Self-explanatory.

USB Flash Drive. You honestly never know when you’ll run into the opportunity to spin open decks. I didn’t have my USB keychain on me once when I was spontaneously presented with the opportunity to DJ a really cool situation, and I regret it to this day. From now on, I keep that thing on me!

Pocket Knife. You never know when you might need it.

THC pen. To calm my brain when the ADHD starts kicking in. Necessity.

Hair tie or headband. My hair is too short to put up right now, but I always need to have the option to keep hair out of my face when working.

What's your favourite film stock?

I stay true to Kodak, so it's Portra 400, of course, and then when it makes sense, 800. I’m still sorting through my thoughts on the new Gold 200 120 film. I've shot with it a little, but I think I prefer the versatility of Portra, though.

What's the wildest thing you've done to get the shot?

I’ve definitely hopped my fair share of 12-foot fences, climbed water towers, and trespassed to get the shot, but that's all part of the game. One of my most memorable experiences would be shooting on a roof in the favelas of Brazil. On the morning of a test shoot we had planned, my friends surprised me by saying we were going into the favelas, and I was so excited. The only way we got in was because one of the PAs on the shoot lived in that favela, so we had the OK to go in with him. Standing out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair, everyone was surprisingly friendly and inviting when we went to shoot, and the backdrop of the colourful and beautiful homes added to the experience. Under any other circumstances, it would not have been a good idea at all—the favelas are the last place someone who looks like me should be, unless it’s under similar circumstances. It was a day I’ll never forget.

If you could only shoot one camera for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Even though it’s a whole brick, I'd choose my Mamiya RZ67. The image quality you get with that camera is unmatched, and I secretly love the process of scanning film. It’s almost therapeutic, like folding laundry or doing dishes, ya know? And of course, it’s your first glance at what you've shot.

Can you share the inspiration behind your film project "KNEE DRIVING"? What motivated you to highlight women in the surf/skate scene?

Yes! The idea for KNEE DRIVING came to me during the midst of the Covid lockdown, as I found myself sitting alone at home for days on end. While scrolling through social media one day, I had a sudden realization of the immense talent emerging among women in surfing and skateboarding, despite their underrepresentation in these male-dominated industries. Drawing from my own experiences as a female surf photographer, I encountered pushback in this world and was not taken too seriously in the beginning. My work had to do the talking for me to get respect. When I see women staying true to themselves, expressing themselves through their talents, and making it work, I admire that and want to make sure they feel seen.

When I think of the title 'KNEE DRIVING,' I think of my post-surf trips to the bakery to get a pie, eating it while I'm en route home. Where did the name of the film originate?

I think it’s safe to say you nailed it! 'KNEE DRIVING' is essentially that. In a way, it conveys not taking life too seriously and finding fun within the journey. Personally, I'm a big romantic. My family and friends know I love romanticizing every moment I can in life. In my opinion, it makes the mundane more interesting and serves as a reminder not to take parts of life that you might normally overlook for granted.

The act of knee driving itself is something that brings me joy (in the right setting, of course). When I was young, before I could drive, I would notice my dad sometimes knee driving — it always sparked my interest, and I was low-key looking forward to doing it when I got my license, as silly as that sounds.

Shifting gears to your role as a DJ, could you tell us about your journey into the world of music?

Man, music has always been, and will always be, a huge part of my life. Growing up as an only child, I had to entertain myself, and my favourite thing was always to have music playing. It fills the void of a quiet room and romanticises whatever you’re doing. During my childhood, my parents would always play Brazilian bossa nova in the backyard on a hot summer day, and when I visited family in Brazil, my cousins would teach me all the newest Brazilian funk dances. I always knew deep down that I wanted to do something with music, but I wasn’t blessed with a singing voice. I gave up on learning guitar long ago, but I retained a good ear for music selection. Back in the Tumblr days, I randomly gained a following on Spotify for the playlists I’d make, but that didn't feel like enough for me.

You need to send us some of those Tumblr playlists. What inspired you to explore this avenue more and make a career out of it?

Amapiano was the first genre, back in late 2021, that made me want to DJ. When I heard it for the first time, it was like nothing my ears had heard before, and I wanted more of it. Eventually, I bought a controller and taught myself how to DJ. The journey, as well as the discovery of learning on my own at my own pace, was honestly the best part. I didn't want to book a gig until I personally felt ready, and that moment came back in March 2023, a year ago now. DJing gives me the same feeling as photography does, and I am absolutely hooked. Music has always been deeply personal to me and my inner child, so I knew that if I wanted to pursue this, I would be committing for the long haul. Finding a way to balance the two has been a learning process for me. With over 12 years of experience in photography, I've been feeling somewhat jaded by the industry. However, DJing and producing are so new to me, and I'm currently obsessed with the newness. Sometimes, I find it challenging to pivot back to my photography career. I'm sure many other creatives can relate to this feeling. However, my main goal this year is to find a healthy balance while pushing my limits and growing both careers.


What kind of music genres or styles do you gravitate toward?

I started out spinning Amapiano - I mixed it with genres I already listened to and went from there, discovering more genres that inspire me as well. I’ve found that sharing my Brazilian culture is where I stand out with my sound the most, which probably separates me from the next DJ. I would best describe my sound as my roots meeting my future. A fusion of genres blending from baile funk, gqom, club, electronic, house, and techno is what I find myself gravitating towards the most. Though those might identify me as a DJ, I also love finding perfect opportunities where the vibe is just right to spin other genres as well (in no particular order), like hip-hop/R&B, bossa nova, jungle, and heavier techno.

DJing is not only about playing music but also about curating an experience for listeners. How do you approach crafting a setlist that engages your audience and sets a particular mood?

Yes – not only curating an experience but also curating NEW experiences for listeners. I cannot stress enough how important it is to introduce listeners or a crowd to new music and sounds they’ve never heard before, while also keeping them engaged with tracks they already know. That balance, in my opinion, is the key to being a good DJ and differentiates one DJ from another. Empathy is key to being a good selector! You need to read the crowd correctly, but also put them on – this really only develops with experience. I believe that making your own lane or finding your unique style eventually is most important, and that goes for all mediums of art. If we all spun the same sounds and tracks – how boring would that be! I hope to convey that the most when I DJ, because no feeling is better than discovering a new track that instantly gives you that natural high of dopamine, leaving you wanting more.

When I’m planning a set, I first think about the environment and audience I’ll be spinning for and do my best to cater to that while also bringing in a memorable experience whether it’s a dance setting or just blending into the background and setting a vibe. While planning ahead is important, you honestly never know when you'll have to scratch your whole plan and play to the situation you've walked into. The amount of times I've had to switch up my entire set on the spot and improvise is more times than you'd expect. You need to be quick on your feet, and often, the crowd won't even realise you had to pivot.

Planning a set is one thing, but reading the room during your set is another. It’s equally important to have both skills under your belt as a DJ. I will continue to be a student of art for the rest of my life, and that is the beauty of it all. 

Check out more of Victoria's work via her website and give her a follow on IG, here. Listen to her Soundcloud, here.

Grab a Midnight Black Sidewalk Sling, here.

April 02, 2024