Pablo Santana

Pablo Santana (Filmmaking 2018) is a photographer and creative, specialising in live music and fashion.

Headshot image of Pablo Santana.

Pablo's story

Pablo originally grew up in the Canary Islands in Spain and came to Sussex to study filmmaking, graduating in 2021. During his time at Sussex, he was actively involved in student societies, like the Sussex fashion magazine Fabrik, where he played a significant role in the creation of the print magazine.

Alongside his photography, Pablo also specialises in content creation, amassing over 240K followers across TikTok and Instagram. He is known for his distinct, colourful style, which has been featured in concerts, editorial work, backstage for fashion shows, and behind-the-scenes for music videos and film.

Pablo also joined us at our Sussex Connect event: Curating your online presence, as an alumni speaker. He discussed building a career online and how to use social media to your advantage.

What brought you to study at Sussex?

I had visited Brighton before and completely fell in love with the city. As a creative, being in such a vibrant and artistic city was a huge plus. Also, the campus was beautiful, and I really appreciated having green spaces around. Sussex’s reputation for creativity and innovation was another big draw.

Are there any experiences from your time at Sussex which have helped you in your career so far?

Working on Fabrik was a standout experience. We did countless shoots over a very short period, which allowed me to practice various styles of photography, both in the studio and on location. This helped me expand my skills, learn to work under pressure, manage large groups of models, and effectively convey the ideas behind each shoot. It boosted my confidence in my skills and vision as a creative. Some of the images from those shoots are still my favourites and often attract clients!

Pablo Santana stood behind a camera with a fellow student in a cark park.

Pablo Santana creating content during his time at Sussex

You’ve worked with fellow Sussex alum, Jordi M. Carter, for a photoshoot for Vogue Italia. What was it like collaborating with him?

Working with Jordi was amazing, he’s such a sweet and talented individual. The behind-the-scenes wasn't so glamorous; the sunset was fast approaching, and it was about 5 degrees, with Jordi and Sam shirtless and very cold. I wasn't sure if we'd use the images due to the conditions, but they turned out great. When they were featured in Vogue Italia’s Photo Vogue, it was surreal and rewarding. I couldn’t be prouder of the team and everything the images convey. I’m thrilled to see all the amazing things Jordi has accomplished since Sussex and his impact on the creative community.

Alumna Jordi poses with his face resting on another model's shoulder in front of a blue sky

Jordi's modelling featured in Vogue Italia, photographed by Pablo Santana

How has your dedicated social media following helped your professional career and how do you tailor your content for different platforms?

It has significantly boosted my professional career. It serves as a form of social proof, validating my work and increasing my credibility. Brands and clients are more likely to trust and collaborate with someone who has a strong and engaged following.

Tailoring content starts with analysing how each platform works and the type of content that performs well. For TikTok, you need a catchy hook and ideally a fast-paced video. It’s an app designed for endless scrolling, so if you don't grab attention within the first 3-5 seconds, viewers will scroll past, and you lose the opportunity to reach someone new. For Instagram Reels it’s quite similar, but posts are a very different thing. I use Instagram posts as more of a portfolio that clients and anyone wanting to follow my work can look at. I curate it very carefully with my best work.

Don't be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself, whether through emails or Instagram DMs. Many opportunities have come from taking that initiative.”

What are your top tips for anyone looking to work freelance?

  • Patience is crucial. You need to trust the process and timing. If you believe in your project and remain consistent, opportunities will come.
  • Be proactive in seeking out your own opportunities. Even if you're the best artist, people can’t book you if they don’t know you exist. Don't be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself, whether through emails or Instagram DMs. Many opportunities have come from taking that initiative.
  • Use platforms like TikTok to your advantage; each post is a chance to reach someone new. We often underestimate how powerful and accessible these tools are.

What would be the soundtrack to your time at Sussex?

This is very hard! Each chapter of my time at Sussex would have a different soundtrack, but some songs that would definitely be there are Ride by Lana Del Rey, This Bright Flash by M83, Feel Something Different by Bea Miller, and Deja Vu by Olivia Rodrigo.

Pablo Santana posing in his graduation gown on Brighton Beach.

Favourite place in the world?

Las Canteras Beach back home in Gran Canaria, Spain. I lived a two-minute walk from it my whole life, and while I appreciated it when I lived there, I’ve learned to love it even more since living abroad. It has a special energy, and being a city beach, it's unique. That’s also why I enjoyed Brighton beach a lot; even when it was cold and windy, you could watch the sunset and just relax.

Pablo Santana sat on Brighton Beach, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.

Pablo Santana sitting on Brighton Beach

What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on?

Choosing a favourite project is like choosing between children!

While at Sussex, we did a shoot titled ‘All Bodies Are Art,’ celebrating bodies of all shapes and forms. Working on that was very rewarding and liberating.

Recently, I shot a fashion editorial with my grandma Rosalia, featuring local designers from the Canary Islands. It was very special to blend family, my job and my passion while supporting local designers. Shooting live music shows is also extremely fulfilling; having once queued for hours to see my favourite artists, contributing to and documenting their stories is incredibly rewarding.

What top tips would you give to current students and graduates looking to build their online presence?

  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Posting online can be daunting with so many eyes watching, but it’s also powerful—you never know who might be watching and what opportunities that might lead to.
  • Consistency is crucial for building your presence online, as it helps you reach more people and establish yourself.
  • Ensure the content you create reflects your personality and skills. Your vision is unique, so make sure to stay true to how you see things and not fall into the trap of trying to recreate others' content. Your individuality is what makes your content special.

Pablo is among thousands of inspiring alumni on Sussex Connect. Join now to seek mentoring and industry advice and get a head start on your career.