Biologist Nataly Muñoz has a tight relationship with nature. For someone accustomed to seeing the world through the lens of science, it is interesting to see how her photography with LomoChrome Purple translates into a surreal and magical parallel world. The dichotomy of it between the analytical and factual world of academics, blends with her creativity. We are transported back in time traveling through her childhood memories. Her love for the natural world is deep-seated with her and her personal history. We are glad to share with you our interview with Nataly and open a window into her visual world.
“What I like the most about LomoChrome Purple is that you can convert known worlds, into unknown ones. I enjoy using this film in nature, when you are in the woods you can see hundreds of colors, different shades of green, blue, yellow, brown…”
Hello, Nataly! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine! Tell us a bit about your photography background. What’s your story?
Thank you Lomography Magazine for this opportunity! My name is Natàlia, I am a 28-year-old biologist living in Barcelona, Spain. I started film photography around 3 years ago. I always enjoyed photography but I was not very serious about it. I was mainly taking pictures with my smartphone and from time to time with a digital camera. However, a friend gave me one of her cameras for Christmas, a Minolta X-700, and encouraged me to give it a try. I admit that I was surprised by the beauty of analogue photography when staring at her photos. Therefore, that same week I went to try my ”new” camera with my first film roll. The first emotions I experienced were enthusiasm and impatience. I was very excited to see my first results! Once I had my first negative in my hands I felt mesmerized, I found the grain and the texture of the film beautiful. Since that day I continued taking photos on film, it became an addiction and now I have several film cameras.
There is a vast variety of landscapes in your work, from cities to beaches. How do you scout for your locations? And, what do you usually look for in a scene?
As a biologist, I’ve been interested in nature since I was a child. Landscapes and nature are some of my favorite topics. I grew up surrounded by nature in a small village located in the center of Catalonia, Spain. Some of the landscapes that appear in my photos are from my little hometown, its countryside is full of woods and fields, in spring you have an explosion of nature, and in winter misty woods full of a mysterious atmosphere. I love that contrast! My city works are from Barcelona, where I am currently living. Barcelona is lively, full of charming corners, interesting architecture, and people. It has also the sea, so it’s a very versatile city for photography: awesome for street, architecture, night, and portrait shooting sessions, but also landscape photography when you go to the beach.
However, my favorite spots to take beach photos are in the north of Catalonia, in an area called Costa Brava, full of crystal clear beaches and sharp cliffs. I like spots in which you feel the power and the wild of nature, the more savage the better. I mainly shoot in spots that are linked to me, that connection brings me usually back to my childhood and makes me feel happy. For instance, “la Costa Brava” is the spot of my summer vacations with my family since I was 7 years old. Therefore, in my photography, I tend to look for the nostalgia of past years, to depict daily charming scenes, or to show the beauty of nature with its moments of bravery or quietness. Nevertheless, I love traveling and exploring new places, so you will always see me with my camera wherever I go ready to capture everything through my lens.
You mentioned how the LomoChrome Purple gives a surreal feeling to your work, can you tell me about your creative process with this film?
What I like the most about LomoChrome Purple is that you can convert known worlds, into unknown ones. I enjoy using this film in nature, when you are in the woods you can see hundreds of colors, different shades of green, blue, yellow, brown… In spring you need to add all the flowers blooming to that cocktail of colors. In my mind I am just imagining how LomoChrome is going to change that colors in the new ones, green is going to turn purple, blue is going to turn green and other colors like red are going to remain the way they are. Hence, I am visualizing the image in my mind and its composition. For instance, in spring I took photographs of poppy flowers and I imagined that the greenish sky combined with the purple of the fields and the red of the poppy flowers arising would create a wonderful surreal contrast. I use LomoChrome Purple to create surreal landscapes and I believe it works very well when I cannot recognize in my photos a scenario that I am used to seeing.
When you work on double exposures, there is a candid touch to your compositions, in your mix between portraits and landscapes, what is your main inspiration?
My main inspirations are my family and friends; usually, they are the subjects of my portraits and double exposures. When I take portraits merged with nature in my double exposures is my way to show the connection of humans with nature. I believe that is therapeutic when you have that moment for yourself and the universe.
In an undeniably digital age, why do you choose to shoot film?
I love the texture, the grain, and the vintage feeling of film photography, which is unique for each type of film. Moreover, film is very versatile and gives you freedom for experimentation; film soups, double exposures, cyanotypes, solargraphy, astrophotography, etc. It’s a great media for artists to express themselves in the way or ways they feel more comfortable with. Besides, I love the surprise factor of film, you don’t know the results until you develop your film. Usually, I don’t even remember the photos I took until I see the final result, sometimes disappointing sometimes great, but that’s the fun of film. With digital photography, everything looks easier but similar, plain, and boring.
Is there any particular connection between shooting film and having nature as one of your main subjects?
Nature provides me peace and film photography relaxes me. One of the reasons why I shoot film is that it’s a therapy, it helps me to focus only on the world around me and its beauty, to appreciate more my time, to slow down in this fast world we live and to forget about my worries. When I combine both shooting and nature as a subject is a perfect match, I feel free.
I'm curious to know if you have a favorite photo? Can you tell us the story behind it?
That is a very difficult question because I have lots of special photographs that bring me a unique emotion or memory. However, I have to say that the photograph of the LomoChrome Purple poppies is one of my favorites. I took this photo after the covid lockdown in Spain, I stayed more than 2 months isolated in my apartment in Barcelona, without taking pictures, without being able to enjoy nature. When the restrictions were eased I was craving to go back to my hometown to visit my family and to take pictures, I bought a roll of LomoChrome Purple, it was spring, the fields were blooming and I could taste again that freedom and peace inside me. When I look at that picture, beyond those surreal colors I see freedom, I feel relaxed and I feel again that connection with nature after being isolated so much time.
What's coming up for you in the future? Any interesting projects or collaborations planned?
I don’t have anything scheduled for the moment, but time ago I performed a film swap with a friend and the results were very satisfying. It’s interesting to see how two different artists can explain different stories that merged together in the same frame have a sense and a meaning. I would like to repeat that experience soon. Moreover, I want to continue improving my skills with astrophotography and end up combining double exposures with astroshots. I already made some tests but I need to improve more. One of my projects was human connection, it’s a series of double exposures that depicts the connection of humans with nature, I would like to extend this project by adding a connection with the universe.