BEHIND THE LENS OF SILVIA CONDE
Devoting oneself to art requires a special ability, a sensitivity that is innate in some people, an inevitable obsession for paying attention to even the smallest details and moments which for others are just passed by. However, there are people who enjoy retaining and capturing those moments, creating art thanks to them, and one of those people is Silvia Conde.
Silvia Conde, photographer and art director, could easily head one of those lists of people with talent who, despite their youth or because of it, already amasses a long list of collaborations among which are “Soft Skin”, “Kinfolk”, and “Freunde von Freunden”. Silvia, Catalonian in origin, answers our question from Berlin, where she has been living for the last four years.
SO BLUE: Silvia, you were born in Barcelona but are currently living in Berlin. Why did you decide to leave for the German capital?
Silvia Conde: I suppose it was because I needed a change of scenery. As soon as I graduated, and seeing the labor situation for young people in Spain, I decided to go to Germany and learn the language. Well…the truth is the idea was my best friend’s, with whom I lived here the first year. She went back, but I stayed. What with one thing and another, I’ve been here for almost four years, where I currently study photography and work as a freelancer.
SB: Do you think being in Berlin has allowed your work as a photographer and art director to be more visible?
S: I don’t think it’s because I live here, but more so because I had to smarten up. I started working as an apprentice in a well-known Berlin magazine and I’ve been progressing little by little to where I am now. It has been, and still is, continual effort and hard work. Berlin isn’t the city of opportunities either. Everything has a cost and no one gives anything away.
SB: Aside from being a photographer, you’re also an art director. What came first and how did it happen?
S: I studied Advertising and Public Relations in the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. I specialized in art direction. I did some apprenticeships in a well-known agency, but that world was nothing more than a huge let-down. After some time, I realized I had no project that I was truly proud of. So I decided to create it. Hence the birth of Soft-Skin, a fanzine in which I worked as art director for two years. Its creation has opened many doors for me. Thanks to it, I became the magazine’s photography editor, for example.
SB: What type of camera do you tend to work with, analogue or digital? Which do you prefer?
S: It depends, although I do enjoy analogue more. In fact, the school I’m attending now is for analogue photography.
However, you can’t always choose. The client needs the photographs tomorrow…
SB: I imagine that, as with all photographers, you have some professional projects and other personal ones. Do you think they’re different or do they share similarities?
S: I like to think there is a relation between them, or between most. Although sometimes the assignment is so immovable that it’s hard to do something personal.
SB: Do you have a soft spot for any city or country when photographing?
S: Not really. Perhaps it has more to do with the ambience of the place or the people.
If the person inspires me, then everything will be simple.
It’s happened, for example in one of my last shootings for a brand of underwear. I decided to have a friend of mine be the model and, thanks to our familiarity, the result was exceptional. I’m very happy with the end result.
SB: In almost all of your photographs, one of the main protagonists, in my view, is the skin…is this true? Tell me a little about it.
S: Is it? I don’t know…it may be. I have devoted a lot of my time to that theme lately. This semester at school I did a project on the skin, surfaces and touch. I truly like to contemplate details and the skin is ideal for that.
SB: You are, or have been, a collaborator for sites like Kinfolk or Freunde Von Freunden and have been involved with important brands like Vitra. What project are you working on now?
S: For the time being, I’m looking forward to enjoying the holidays. On one hand, I’ll be back in school in September and will have to start another project, although I’m still not sure what it will be.
On the other, I just began a printed column in a well-known German magazine which will be out in the fall. And I have a couple of open projects which need to be confirmed. The rest will come as it has up to now, or at least that’s what I hope.
You can see more of her work at www.silviaconde.com
Text by Virginia Cámus