At just twenty one years old, Coco Capitan is already starting to make a voice for herself in the world of fashion photography. Originally from Seville and currently based in London, her work has appeared in Vice Italy, Nylon Mexico, Used Magazine, and Novembre Magazine, just to name a few. Some might consider her age to be an obstacle, however, Coco prefers to approach her youth as not only a strength, but perhaps more importantly, as the foundation of her artistic vision. Coco spoke to us at further length about her attraction to youth, and about her unique role in the fashion industry.
I want to start off by discussing the subjects of your photographs. For the most part, they are females who wear very little makeup and have an air of youth and innocence. Many of them are also quite androgynous. These are not the subjects we are accustomed to seeing in mainstream fashion magazines. What is your attraction to this kind of female subject?
I am interested in reality. I am not interested in perfection, but in the little details that make someone's personality. My way of choosing subjects is more casual than it seems. I am twenty-one years old. I started taking portraits when I was fourteen. Initially, I was just photographing my friends – we would take pictures for fun. I wanted to have a document with which I could remember them. This is how I learned to look at people – to look for the details which made them unique. When I started photographing strangers, I was essentially recreating the same type of experience. Because I’m young, I am able to approach people my own age in a very direct way – my models are never intimidated by my camera. They get to the studio and I bet they think: “Oh, this child is going to take my picture? It will be easy then!” And I love that! We listen to some music and start playing around. The majority of the girls I photograph are between sixteen to twenty years old. Most of them have little modeling experience, which in the end is helpful to my aims as a photographer. Most of the time, they will arrive to the studio in some jeans and trainers and I think they look good as they are. Why would I make them wear some crazy high heels and tons of make-up, if that's not them nor is it me? I think the girls feel relaxed knowing that they are being photographed by someone like them – this is why the photos are effortless.
What relationship do you and your photographs have with fashion, style and appearance?
Mainly that they appear in fashion magazines and the models wear clothes with credits. The fashion is actually just an excuse, what I really enjoy is portraying people, if they have to be wearing branded clothes, well, that's fine with me!
What role, if any, do you think you occupy in the fashion industry?
Fashion is a form of communication. If I play a roll in all this I think it is to deliver the message: “Let me be a child, let me wear my trainers, don't cover my face with make-up, let things be as they are!”
Do you identify as a fashion photographer?
I do not consider myself a fashion photographer, no. I do not want to shoot fashion exclusively. Fashion has a very strong voice in a portrait. It can be very descriptive. Fashion speaks about people’s choices – it tells us how someone wants to be seen. I consider myself an observer of this process of identity. I love looking at people, and I do this through the camera. My images are in fashion magazines and in fashion campaigns, but they are also in galleries and art magazines. Does that make me an artist or a fashion photographer? I don’t think I can resolve this debate so, for the moment, I prefer to just call myself a photographer because the photograph is my main medium.
What are you studying and how has your photography changed since you began your studies?
I am in my last year, studying photography at the University of Arts of London. I think I have notably developed my practice since I started going to college. But to be honest, it was not really because of the lectures. I learned more from my classmates, from the technicians, from spending day after day in the studio trying everything and looking at every single photography book at the library. I just keep trying, I can't stay still…!
What do you hope to do after graduation?
My masters if I have the time, and I want to keep producing images with the same energy as I do now.
Who and what are you inspired by?
My main inspirations never come directly from fashion photography. I love to mess around with the genres. I am inspired by loud music, a good book, an intense conversation, wine in a gallery, and a movie in Prince Charles' cinema.
Where are you from and how does this influence your artistic perspective?
I am Andalusian. I was born in Seville, in the South Spain. I think it is a beautiful place to be born and to spend one’s childhood. The oranges, the sun, the jasmine flowers in the summer, the churches... I moved around a lot as a child though – my mother was unstoppable. I guess that made me even more independent. I learned to write letters to my old friends and remember the cities I once lived in. I learned to carry on with life knowing that no situation is permanent and that there are always new places to see and new people to meet. As a teenager I lived in Cadiz (even further South than Seville). I used to ride my bike to school every morning and see the seaside from the road. I could also see the sea from my classroom's window. That made me feel calm, I don't know why exactly. But Cadiz is surrounded by the sea, it feels far from everywhere and I also felt isolated. That was not a bad thing for me since I liked to spend the days in the library, or just in my room reading, writing or looking at the ceiling. It was a slow and calm city, there was not much to do and that gave me the opportunity to create a personal space, a parallel universe. It made me very creative. I dreamed as much as I wanted. But at some point I became too hungry for adventures. I knew I needed to live in a city where things happened. Two days after my last school exam, I packed my camera, my diaries and a few things and moved to London.