Analogue photography is an enchanting dialect that a fair few, but not all, today diligently learn to speak. For Silvia Conde, an art director from Barcelona, photography meant learning that visual language from scratch, and the analogue form was and remains to her the most authentic and fascinating form of visual self-expression. The Berlin-based photographer and publisher of her own zine, Soft Skin, with Kinfolk and Freunde von Freunden collaborations under her belt, she captures the unseen and the often forgotten beauty of the everyday, and shows nature and little life moments at their tenderest.
How would you describe your creative journey so far? Where do you find yourself now?
I’m still learning. I finished my degree in Advertising and PR as an Art Director, but I knew I wanted to make my living as a photographer. Although I spent some time learning by myself, in the end I applied for a photography school in Berlin, where I’m currently studying. Art school is a huge input. At the same time, I’m working as a photo editor and photographer for an online magazine. It gives me a balance between art and the real business world.
Do you now define yourself more as a photographer or an art director, or is it something that shifts with your daily priorities?
Since I’m studying and working on it, I would say photographer, definitely.
What was the most memorable project that you have worked on as an art director?
Soft Skin, without doubts. Firstly, because it’s a personal project and my motivation was bigger than in other projects. Besides, I had the freedom to make all the decisions.
How did you start Soft Skin Fanzine? What is the story behind it?
I have an account on Flickr, where I have always collected other people’s photos. One day I realized that most of them shared an aesthetic mood and I decided to create a group called Soft Skin. Almost two years later I thought it was kind of sad that they were just there and I thought of an online gallery and a printed zine.
When and how did your relationship with photography start and begin to flourish?
It began in university. I had a photography lesson, which was something very simple, we were actually using digital compact cameras. Still, it was an innocent first contact with this form of art. After that, I took a semester of black and white development in an Art School of Barcelona. When I finished my degree I didn’t know what to do, also because the situation in Spain was pretty bad for new graduates. I moved to Berlin and started taking more and more photos, both digital and analogue. And after some time I was absolutely sure that this is what I want to do. But as I said, I’m still learning. It’s a long way, you need time and lots of practice.
Where does the main attraction in analogue photography lie for you?
To me, analogue is more unique and authentic. I mean, while with a digital camera you can shoot unconsciously as much as you want, with analogue you can make so many mistakes and just learn from them afterwards. Film is something different than a memory card. And the magic of the laboratory is more impressive and fascinating than Photoshop. Nevertheless, in the end you can have the same picture, of course, even taken with your phone, I know. To me it’s the way that gives it a meaning, a value. Nevertheless, I use digital at work, it’s necessary.
What cameras do you usually shoot with?
Right now I’m stuck with a Canon A1.
When it comes to photography, do you have an aesthetic that you particularly favour?
Nature inspires me so much. It’s like an obsession, I can’t help it.
If you were to publish a photography book with a selection of any photographer's work, past or present, whom would you choose? Whose work do you admire?
Oh that’s a difficult question, because I don’t have enough knowledge of the history of
photography. In any case, I’m a big fan of Sophie Calle. I also admire Ryan McGinley.
Living in Berlin, such a culturally varied, creatively boisterous city, do you feel the impact of this environment on your work, style, technique?
Definitely. Maybe not directly or in an obvious way, but it’s there. The aesthetics here are very different than in Barcelona. Here everything is dirtier and more careless, maybe also darker, at least that’s my perception. Sometimes I have the feeling that it’s not about finding the beauty, but the beauty in ugliness.
What are your plans for the near future? Do you plan to publish Soft Skin, Issue 4?
Hopefully, I’ll continue with my studies and work at the same time. Keep learning every day and dreaming of a photographic career. Regarding Soft Skin, I would like to re-think the project again and make it grow even more if possible.