Sometimes, it's the simple stillness of an image that strikes you. Its quiet hush pulls you in, compelling you to pause and meditate upon a single tincture of time. In these rare moments, you stop what you're doing and simply — exist. Catalan fashion and landscape photographer, Silvia Conde, is a master of these magical moments. With an eye for delicate, pastel colors and a knowing impulse for new and unusual locations, her work is a stunning testament to timeless tranquility.
Hey Silvia — welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Can you tell us a bit about your photography background?
I was born and raised in Barcelona. Seven years ago — after finishing my BA in Advertising and Art Direction — I moved to Berlin. It was a life changing decision, that I’ve never regretted. During my studies, I attended a course on black and white analogue photography and development. It was mind-blowing. I kept taking photos until at some point I realized I needed to learn more. So I applied for the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin. In the beginning, I was highly motivated. However, after finishing the second year, I left the school because it was not what I had expected. Fortunately, I’ve been working as a freelance photographer ever since.
I like to think that my style is kind of dreamy. People say I photograph regular things, but that somehow I see them in a more magical way. My favorite subject is Nature, it moves me. Most of my pictures are analogue. I like to shoot 35 mm and really love the high quality of medium format.
Your photos in Alicante and Lanzarote are breathtaking — the color palette you’ve created is so soft, yet exotic and otherworldly. Do you have an idea in mind before you go or simply shoot instinctively?
Nature is my main source of inspiration. I need it too, it heals me. I like to travel to isolated corners and appreciate their loneliness. It’s almost incredible to still find places on this planet which haven’t been exploited that much. Places where you can still feel the energy of Mother Nature. I didn’t plan those images. I knew the places. I decided to visit them and capture all those images through the camera, as you say, instinctively. Nature can not be planned.
You’ve shot some incredible rock formations in the Natural Park of Costa Brava, in Catalunya — how do you compose your images?
I initially shot those images for the band of a close friend, called Cor Blanc. After a few months, I realized they needed to be shared and —with the artist Carla Cascales — they were exhibited in Barcelona, together with a sculpture she made. Our aim was to show people that there is hope for the environment.
The installation consisted of several Sapeli-wood hanging sculptures, which reflected the beauty and the balance of the cycles of life and nature. On the walls, there were the pictures taken in Paratge de Tudela, a natural space that we had taken as an example of that hope. Back in the 1960s, the area was hardly damaged by touristic exploitation. In 2005, the Spanish Government recovered it and restored it. Today it's one of the most magical spots in Costa Brava — thanks to its extraordinary geology. The textures of the rocks, eroded during millions of years by the Mediterranean water and the Tramontana wind, were represented on the hand carving of the surface of the sculptures. I have to say, it was very impressive.
The geometric shapes and strong shadows you shot for the Honne campaign are really striking. What is it that you look for when you scout out a location to shoot?
I had wanted to shoot at Xavier Corberó’s house for a long time. When the guys of Querida Studio told me they were thinking about that location, I almost went nuts. A dream became true. I like buildings with character. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be as minimalist as the building by Corberó. It can actually be more baroque. As long as they have their own story and personality, they will have that something that makes them stand out. They will probably inspire me and therefore work visually.
In an undeniably digital age, why do you still choose to shoot on film?
Maybe it is exactly because of that. I feel so overwhelmed by the digital era, I need to live slow. I practice yoga and meditation, go to nature regularly and turn off the phone from time to time. For me, shooting film is much more special than shooting digital. When I go to develop the negatives, it always feels like Christmas. I love the moment when I start scanning and all the things I had captured appear on the screen. It takes longer, but it’s totally worth. Good things take time. The results are usually much nicer than the ones I get with my digital camera.
Do you have a favorite photo? Can you tell us about the story behind it?
I really like the series of the Black Forest. It was my first series in which I could start to see this dreamy style I was telling you about. I was living in the South of Germany with my partner. We were in the car driving in secondary roads. The weather was foggy and rainy, a bit awful, but I really loved that moment. I had the old Olympus Pen from my mother. I began to shoot our drive. When I saw the photos afterwards, I was deeply moved. I had been able to capture the atmosphere I was looking for.
What’s coming up for Silvia Conde this year?
Right now I’m very focused on a series which will create awareness about the use of plastic and the environment. I’ve recently been working on that with florists Mary Lennox in Berlin. We are planning a second shoot together. Let’s see! I guess, this is my advertising part, telling me that I can use my art to spread the message.