Sofia Verzbolovskis is a Panamanian photographer and writer based in New York After graduating from NYU with a BA in Economics and Latin American Studies in 2009, she attended a Photojournalism program at the International Center of Photography (2010-2011). She is a contributor for Huffington Post, where she writes about art, music and travel. Her photos have been published in Musee Magazine, Huffington Post, Jungles in Paris, Hashtag Photography Magazine, among other publications. She had her first solo exhibition, Diablos Rojos: Fin de un era, at El Taller Latino Americano in NYC in September 2012. This show travelled to Allegro Gallery in Panama where it was on display from June to July 2013. Most recently, Sofia was selected for the Biennial of the Central American Isthmus (BAVIC 9) with her work, CuadriColn. The Biennial is on view through August 2014 in Guatemala.



Hey Sofia! Where are you writing from?

Hola! I am writing from my second home, New York! Though I am going back home to Panama for a month or so in December.

You are very popular in the social media world, especially on Instagram; what was the key for this success?

Ay! Well, I’m not sure if I am “successful” yet! Haha. But I am working towards it. I have started to build a lot of followers through Instagram two ways— the first, essentially by meeting people virtually, looking at other people’s photos, and building relationships. I have also submitted photos to mobile photography contests and exhibits. I was lucky enough to be chosen for a couple of exhibits over the past years both in the US and abroad, in Panama and Spain. Finally, I have “taken over” the Instagram feeds for a couple of accounts, such as the ICP Alumni account for about two weeks, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, and an account called Todo Panama, which features photographers from Panama. I have also been featured in the Afar Magazine Instagram feed. All of that helps me gain more notoriety!

Can you tell us something about the exhibition you’ve been part of the show “The Space Between” in Woodstock?

I was thrilled to be part of the exhibition in Woodstock, “The Space Between,” along with other fantastic photographers that I really admire. The curator Henry Jacobson did an amazing job in selecting the photographers to represent the relationship between social media platforms such as Instagram and photography in the traditional way.

“I feel that I can express myself through Instagram, while I walk around, I can take photos of moments and compositions that inspire me, and share them with a wide range of followers from all over the world”

Sofia Verzbolovkis

Do you take photos with your camera and then upload the on social media or directly with your phone?

90% of my photos on Instagram are taken with my iPhone. I have tried to keep my Instagram as a platform solely for mobile photography. However, on occasion I do like to share photos from old trips where I didn’t have my iPhone. But I always try to clarify whether they’re with the iPhone or not.

What is next for you now?

Well, two things— continue with my Instagram/iPhone work. I love that, because I have about 3,000+ followers, I feel like I need to continually post photos to keep them interested in my work. That’s fantastic for me because it keeps me challenged— sometimes, I don’t have anything to post, but I force myself to walk around and find something! And secondly, I am always thinking of new long-term project ideas. After a trip I did this summer to Bosnia, I am very interested in pursuing a project on the Bosnian Community in New York. But it’s in its early stages now, so have nothing to show at the moment.

When did you start using social media so closely related with your photography practice?

In 2012, I had a trip to Spain and Portugal planned. Before leaving, I decided to switch from a blackberry to an iPhone and it was during this trip that I started taking photos with the phone. I haven’t stopped since. I feel that I can express myself through Instagram— while I walk around, I can take photos of moments and compositions that inspire me, and share them with a wide range of followers from all over the world.

“The most important thing I discovered a few days after turning 65 is that I can’t waste any more time doing things I don’t want to do.”

Jep Gambardella (La grande bellezza)

You’ve lived in Paris for a while, right? For how long? What is your favorite thing to do in Paris?

Yes, I lived in Paris for almost a year during 2009-2010. I took photo courses at Parsons in Paris and started building my portfolio to apply to ICP. My favorite thing to do in Paris is walking and exploring— I absolutely love to walk around the Seine, Le Marais, Canal St. Martin, Belleville; essentially everywhere around Paris. I also love buying baguettes, cheeses from the local markets, and sitting somewhere to eat.

Butte-aux-Cailles #paris ©Sofia Verzbolovskis
La défense #paris © Sofia Verzbolovskis

Where are you off to right after this interview?

Well, right after this interview I am headed to El Taller Latino— it is an arts and cultural center on the upper west side. I work there on a freelance basis.

Tell us smthg about your project “The other Side of Panama”…

The Other Side of Panama is a photo project (non iPhone) about a city in Panama called “Colón.” While Panama City is flourishing, with a lot of investment, high-rises, a myriad of restaurants, and high-end malls, Colón is the opposite. It is located just less than an hour away, surrounded by the Caribbean Ocean, the Free Trade Zone and one of the Panama Canal Ports. It used to be one of the most stunning places in Panama because of its eclectic architecture, yet all of that has completely disappeared, and today, all those buildings, parks, houses are crumbling. That disparity of Panama as a country is what I wanted to focus on. This project was selected to be part of the Central American Biennial (BAVIC 9) that took place in Guatemala this past August 2014. A selection of my photos is now in the Spanish Cultural Center (Casa del Soldado) in Panama until December 15th.

What is the thing you miss the most from Panama?

Being at home, enjoying delicious homemade meals (patacones, arroz con frijoles, carne, lentejas! Hahaha) and of course, the beach!!!

#panama desde el #biomuseo #frankgehry

A photo posted by Sofia Verzbolovskis (@sofiaverz) on