With my photographs I pursue to recreate nature looking for an aesthetic joy that arouses in my emotions with a healing power for my soul. I usually work in photographic series of specific topics, which are directly related to my states of mind. As an example, the sorrow caused by the loss of a loved one took me to portray ‘cold’ in Alaska and ‘solitude’ in Death Valley desert. Nature is my source of inspiration because when I am in the wild I can clearly feel my life energy. My soul, mind and body become joined into one, and I am filled with a profound feeling of peace and freedom. Anywhere on the planet where nature is well preserved is for me a special, sacred and inspiring place.
My aesthetic approach in photography has been mainly modelled by pictorial references. My first visual influences were deeply rooted in my teens, when I developed a great passion for oil painting. European impressionists were then, and now, my favorite painters. I was particularly touched by paintings of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. The list of painters I love is very long, but I would especially highlight the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, her colored views and voluptuous forms with which I identify particularly. There are also photographic artists whose work has contributed in getting me where I am today. The first time I saw the color nature studies of Elliot Porter I become impressed. In the same way, I was captured by the strength of the wild landscapes of Hans Strand, the elegance of Charles Cramer or the intimate landscapes of David Ward.
All these influences manifest in my photographic work in the form of plasticity, simplicity and clarity. I feel confident with strong color and bold shapes. My images are charged with a touch of mystery resulting from the selection of singular scenes and a careful matching of light. All these features allow me to represent the natural world in a way that goes beyond merely describing the physical appearance of subjects. Most of my pictures are mid-scale landscapes and abstractions. By decreasing the scale of the landscapes, I manage to use colors, rhythm, textures, patterns and shapes to produce images that come directly from my inner world.
Isabel has specialized in natural landscape photography, an activity that links her two overriding passions, nature and art. Her photographs range from her beloved Basque coast to the distant ice of Alaska or the forests of Costa Rica. Textures, shapes and colors change, but all her landscapes have in common a strong aesthetic sense, they are evocative, intense, at times mysterious.
Her work is exhibited regularly throughout Spain and she has taken part in several exhibitions in other countries. She enjoys giving talks about the creative process of landscape photography (Universidad Veritas in San José - Costa Rica, Bilbo Argazki 2008, Fotogenio 2009, 8th International Festival of Nature Photography - Alcalá de Guadaira) and leads workshops on her speciality (Donostimagen, Aftdao, Festifoto). She participated in the ‘Objetivo Pura Vida’ [Objective Pure Life] project staged by the Spanish Embassy in Costa Rica to portray the extraordinary biodiversity of this country.
Isabel is also marine biologist and works as researcher at the University of the Basque Country. She feels passionate about how nature works in the coast and her research aims to specifically determine the effects of human stressors on macroalgae assemblages.
1. WICH IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
Some photographs have the power to show things in a spiritual way that goes beyond their mere physical appearance, they are appealing enough to transmit intrinsically the emotional benefits of nature. Trying to get this kind of images is my main goal as a photographer.
2. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
David Ward, Charles Cramer, Hans Strand…
3. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
Having an inimitable ‘eye’, the capacity to reveal scenes that most of photographers miss.
4. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
I share photography with my work as researcher in the University of the Basque Country. I have never been in that situation, but I can imagine it is a highly challenging one.
5. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
A strong motivation for me is those few times when I got an evocative and transcendent photograph, whereas demotivation comes from all those pictures that failed to reflect my inner intentions.
6. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
The 'encounters with an exceptional light'. Sometimes light becomes indescribable, mysterious, unknown, beautiful. These are moments of admiration, in which light invades my heart and fills my soul.
7. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
Nature photography can be physically demanding and risky at times, to cope with this is a big challenge for me.
8. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
I have never been formally trained as a photographer. I have acquired my technical knowledge in a self-taught way. My life experiences and my love for the wilderness have modelled my 'photographic eye'.
9. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A "NOVICE"?
I would try to encourage 'novices' to use photography as a form of self-expression, because photographing "from the heart" is the best way to create images that provoke emotional responses. I would talk about the importance of being themselves and not to think about success and other people’s opinions, because this freedom is the key to being creative and producing innovative pictures.
10. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
Trying to be a better person.
11. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
When I am out in the field I can clearly feel my life energy. I am filled with a profound feeling of freedom and connect to a primitive, wild facet of myself.
12. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
I judge a photograph as successful when it becomes a timeless image for me. In other words, time passes and it still moves me like the first time I saw it.
13. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
I have been fascinated with nature since I was a child, capturing its beauty is one of my photographic challenges.
14. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
Everyone knows that an aircraft can fly without a screw, even without two or three, but would you be able to fly in an airplane if you are warned of the lack of many screws? Since year 1500, 617 vertebrate species are considered extinct (Ceballos et al. 2015. Science Advances). How many more species do we have to lose for humans to be afraid of flying on Planet Earth?
»Sometimes light becomes indescribable, mysterious, unknown, beautiful. These are moments of admiration, in which light invades my heart and fills my soul.«
Publications:- 2011-2014 | Isabel Diez was Editor in Chief of the IRIS magazine of the Spanish Nature Photographers Association (Aefona)
- | Her images and articles have been published in several magazines: FV, IRIS, Nature, Photographic Art, France Photographie, etc.
- 2009 | Author of the book 'At the Edge of the Tide', a monograph containing a collection of photographs through which Isabel shows her admiration and curiosity for the coastal landscape
Awards:The images of Isabel Diez have been awarded in prestigious international photo contest such as:
- | Awarded in GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year
- | Awarded in Nature's Best Photography
- | Glanzlichter
Project: La belleza de la senescencia
(The Beauty of Senecence)
Personality needs time to develop and to reveal itself in all its glory. Faces that have lived exciting life experiences are visibly more attractive than those with a dull life. Beauty is not limited to a single moment of life, from creation to decrepitude, beauty is expressed in many different ways. These aloe leaves that once looked soft, smooth and uniform, exhibit now the scars left by the passage of time. The rich colour palette that was hidden by the green chlorophyll in their youth, create unique, delicate, and elegant designs in their phase of decadence. They are my skin, I feel like these aloe leaves.
Project: Into the green
To step into the woods is to enter a green realm where the essence of life is breathable, palpable. A tapestry woven by mosses, lichens and ferns embraces the majestic giants. These are places of mystery and wonder, something spiritual lives there. While I wander through the woodlands I connect to a primitive, wild facet of myself. I always go into the woods in search of vitality. My purpose is capturing this life energy in images. An unimaginable number of linkages and interconnections among animate and inanimate elements determine the structure of these wild green landscapes. From the compositional point of view, my main challenge as a photographer is to look for order into the apparent chaos. I pursue the depiction of woods through visual idealism and Romantic stylization.