Irene Bel | Barcelona

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Hello Irene, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Barcelona, my home town. I believe that where you are born and grown up determines, in some way, who you are. Since my youth, I wanted to travel and discover others countries to understand more about cultures, beyond my own. 

My love to nature is very strong. My big passion are horses, where I developed a way to interact with them. Some of my photos with horses won prizes and being published in magazines.

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
The first time I became aware of photography was when I had to stay at full rest, for several weeks.  It was during that period, that I began to take pictures of myself. After that, I began to work on self-portraits as a form of expression, recovery and analysis. At the same time, photography became a companion in the resting hours. Since then, the camera has become my best partner. When someone asks me if I feel alone when traveling, I usually think that I do not travel alone, I travel with my camera.

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Did you have any formal education in photography or are you self-taught?
I studied photography for three years. I was lucky to learn photography before digital photography became “boss”. I had the opportunity to learn the whole photographic process and the alchemy that was hidden behind it. I learned to photograph in black and white and how to interpret lights, zones, etc. Since then, I have always felt more comfortable shooting in black and white. But I must admit that there are photos that claim for color.

Let’s talk about your submitted project “In our nature". Can you tell us a bit about it? How did the idea come up for this project?
When being out in the woods, surrounded by nature, I became aware of how disconnected we have become to mother earth. During my walks and riding, I felt the need to merge with nature and that’s what I did.  “ In our nature” explores the relationship between the body and environment.

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Can you describe the process when you started with the “In our nature“ project? 
When you become aware of the presence of nature as a whole - the body starts to merge into the space and be a part of the whole environment. Shapes and angles of the human body start to look softer. The focus is set completely on the natural way a human body can bend and be captured in the landscape. I tried to take away the perceptions of the body when it comes to sexuality and nudity. I don't want to create tension or desire in the picture. I prefer to offer tranquility and peace to the viewers. Specially nowadays that we are into a very sexualized culture. 

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The pictures are very well composed. Minimalistic - in kind of a peaceful mood. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Composition is the key of photography. I've always thought that photographers should look for an image that crosses from the aesthetic or narrative side. But it is also important to pay attention to composition, because it is crucial reading the image. It will give you a unique point of view and that is what the photographer wants to describes behind the camera. 

Composition is so important; that’s why I always try to explore different artists from other media to search of new points of view.

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What is the most challenging for you about photography?
Photography, especially documentary photography gives me the opportunity to see the world and get in touch with people in a very intimate way. Photography is about learning the meaning of empathy - a difficult sensibility to acquire. I’m very grateful for that. At the same time I have to learn how to connect and become a witness of their lives and personal situations.

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Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
When I started to work with the body as a way of expression, I became very interested in Francesca Woodman’s work. A few months ago I had the opportunity to see her work in the Bernal Espacio Galería in Madrid. She still inspires me. Especially when I need to work on more poetics projects in the future.
 
My absolute admiration is for those brave women, like Alixandra Fazzina, who is able to tell stories in the most difficult social and geographical environments. Fazzina has the ability to photograph without losing the compassion and empathy towards those who are suffering. Quiet and strong images that transfer the atmospheres of the scenario.

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Website: https://irenebel.com 
Instagram: irenebel_photography 
Facebook: IreneBelPhoto