I press the shutter when I see the picture
Paula Prats is a minimalist photographer from Spain who traveled and lived in various countries. Paula has a B.A from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and also studied in the Universities of Emily Carr Art+Design in Vancouver and Middlesex University of London. Exploration of the countries contributed to learning English and Icelandic languages. Since 2011 Paula’s works have been featured in various installations and shows in Spain, Iceland, and Canada.
Paula sees herself as a city person although her mastery of photography is expressed lately through the visuals of nature located far from the hectic cityscapes. Her series Still Light, ÍS, Neðan explore the breathtaking Icelandic mysterious views. Nature at times transmits more emotion than a person. The colors and lights are exquisite, never to be forgotten.
In this interview we discuss how studying Fine Arts affects a photographer, film as a medium, and the unique way to capture portraits when it is all about nature.
Hi Paula, how is your day going?
It’s good, pretty chill!
Paula, you have a very clean color aesthetic which is very pleasing to an eye. How do you accomplish this when working with color?
Thanks for that! On the one hand, the colors are just there in the scenes, so I guess it’s a matter of choosing when or what to photograph.
I’m drawn to the emotional aspect of color, so if I see something that stimulates me or moves me, I take a picture.
Then, the way to process the image is very important. I often work with analog, so I know which film and scanner to use to get the tones I like.
How did studying Fine Arts shape you as a creator? Do you think your work today is influenced by what you have studied?
It must have definitely shaped me, but I don’t think I’m fully aware in which way exactly. When studying, I did all sorts of things, from painting to sculpture or video, so I suppose there’s stuff you learn about composition, rhythm, color… through other media and it translates somehow into photography. I also think that it gave me freedom conceptually and aesthetically when facing a project.
How would you describe your development in photography if you were to compare your works a couple of years ago to today?
In the last two years, I changed quite a lot technically. I focused on film and tried many different cameras, for example, I started working on medium format more. Regarding subject matter, I kept experimenting and trying stuff, but at the same time,
I realize that there are common elements in my work that I go back to again and again.
When working on commercial projects how much of your personal style and approach can you incorporate into the work? Do you feel you have a freer and freer hand while working on commercial projects with time?
"Yes, I do. I don’t work that often on commercial projects but when I do most of the time people reach me because they’ve seen my work — and they’re looking for this kind of style so, I usually enjoy a lot of freedom".
Do you have a ritual, something that you will always do to start your weekend?
Waking up with no alarm.
Your photos of nature are absolutely captivating and magical. Do you think living in several countries allows you to see the beauty in a different way than that in which a local would perceive it?
The perception of something always changes when it turns familiar, and I guess when you are discovering a place novelty plays an important role in how you engage with it. It makes you stay more attentive and possibly noticing more strongly the beauty of it.
What do you dream about for yourself and your environment in the future?
I don’t really hold a specific dream since the future is never predictable.
Living in a capital city or in the rural area?
City. And when I get older, maybe a more contemplative life in the rural area.
Which languages do you speak?
Spanish, Valencian dialect, English and a bit of Icelandic.
Apples or grapefruit?
Do you remember which camera you were the most excited about when you got it?
"It was my first film camera, a 35mm reflex Pentax that I got in a flea market in Vancouver — I was so happy to have it that I was carrying it with me everywhere. Even though it was quite a basic camera I was attached to for many years".
While working with models do you let them be themselves and relate to them as a part of the natural environment or do you actively help in creating an interesting pose?
It depends on the picture, and what it’s for, I usually prefer to let them be themselves and interact the way they wish with the environment, then I press the shutter when I see the picture.
Actually, in many of my images when there are people they don’t even know that I’m taking the photo.
Other times, if I have to take a portrait, for example, I like to combine their natural posing with a bit of directing so we can achieve together interesting results.
What is a country which nature you find most captivating but hasn't had yet a possibility to create a series there?
I don’t have a specific country in mind.
I’m very attracted to empty spaces like deserts and to geological interesting areas.
I’d also love to photograph a volcano erupting, it must be so powerful and magical.
What is the next project we can expect from Paula Prats?
Still up in the air! I’m working on a few things, but focusing on something more local and personal.