A big smile and two open arms welcome me: “Jacolijn!”, a high, excited voice fills the cafe. The voice comes from the 41-year old photographer Maria José Castillo Pérez (yes, what a name). “I am so happy to see you!”
The last time I saw Maria was in October. It was a warm day and we were shooting outside in Maria’s village called Cerdanyola del Vallès, a little bit outside Barcelona. It was one of those shootings where you forget it is a job. We were dancing around, singing songs, chatting in between shooting photos (chatting and making photos at the same time does not really work for me). Over all it was a really nice shoot. So, of course we met again when I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago. We ended up shooting with a really nice team and after that I interviewed Maria.
“I am sorry for my English” says Maria as she starts talking. She is sitting on a light, brown leather sofa. The sun shines through the window behind her and makes her brown hair glow. She tells me how she got into fashion photography. After she studied art history (with the specialisation cinema history) she started following a make-up course. “I did not really like it because I got bored. I always wanted to do the make-up very quickly.” During the course Maria worked with many photographers and noticed she was always thinking how she would take the photos.
Fashion photography helps me to express my feelings
At that moment, six years ago, she started making portraits herself. “I get really fulfilled by fashion photography”, she answers my question why she chose fashion photography. The always laughing Maria shows a different side of herself during our conversation. She speaks about her work very seriously and passionately. “I have always been interested in aestectics, philosofy. Fashion photography helps me to express my feelings.”
Showing a kind of woman
Soft piano music plays through the speakers in the cafe. More and more people are coming in. It is lunch time, at least for most of the spanish people. It is three o’clock, which normally is really late for me to have lunch. But in Spain I always have to be a bit flexible with the time. “Fashion photography enables me to create my own fairytale. You start a story out of nothing and start building something with the caracters. I try to express my concept of female aesthetics, that a woman is herself, free and empowered.” That is Maria’s favourite aspect of fashion photography: showing a kind of woman.
It enables me to create my own fairytale
Our conversation gets interrupted by the waiter. Some bocadillos (sandwhiches) and patatas bravas (typical spanish little, fried potatoes with a sauce) are getting served at our table. “Capturing a moment in a photo is one of the hardest things to accomplish. For example, some models want to be as glamourous as possible. It is the best when a model is herself and forgets which side of her face looks more beautiful in the photos.” Her face lights up when she starts eating one of the patatas bravas. “It is so good!”
“The fashion industry has changed a lot, in a good way. Nowadays, it is not all about beauty. For example, I like a lot of editorials from Wonderland Magazine. The photos are more human to me. There are also a lot of different types of models now, from albino’s to transgenders. That fits with my thoughts and it is still really fashion. Perfect beauty bores me.”
“I would just like to say one more thing”, just as I think the interview is finished, Maria continues talking, “What I find the most annoying is how people associate the model industry. A lot of people associate models with anorexia and other eating disorders. It is like stereotypes as rock and roll comes with drugs and video games make people violent. It does not make sense!” Now and then Maria receives reactions at photos she took. For example: ‘that model looks anorexic! She does not eat.’ “That annoys me. I shot with that model, she ate a sandwhich with me!”
She ate a sandwhich with me!