Elena Plaza is a historian, archaeology specialist and amateur, very fond of photography. Her camera goes with her everywhere she goes for many years, being already a part of her body and her bag; through the viewfinder she looks in black and white and in grayscale are all her photographs.
Today we are going to know a little more about Elena.
How does a history graduate get into photography?
There are many paths that led me to photography, but basically what happened is that when I started working and in an episode of stress, a friend recommended me a painting academy, in which I enrolled I always liked painting, in fact, I wanted to have studied Fine Arts, but in my house, they said it had few outlets, few job opportunities; neither the career of History had too many, on the other hand. I began to use photographs as inspiration for my paintings, or photographing myself in the case of landscapes or using photographs from magazines, 4 years later the school closed and I wondered if it was not the time to buy a camera I entered the Man Ray photography school to help them to squeeze it when I finished the annual course I set up a photographic association with some friends "Martirio de la Imagen" in which we continue learning together for 6 years doing different workshops, exhibitions ... and until today.
Very active in contests, exhibitions, workshops, books, lectures, and courses, where do you find the time? don't you sleep?
No. I don't sleep, that's it. I take time off from sleeping to do things, see exhibitions, take different courses, read... Thanks to the fact that I need little sleep, I can take advantage of the night hours. I sleep very little, actually.
Which photographers have influenced your work and who are your favorite authors?
I'm going to forget many, but for example Catalá Roca, Isabel Muñoz, Baylón, Cristina Garcia Rodero, Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, Vivian Mayer, Ramón Massats, Perez Siquier, Cartier-Bresson, there are many who have influenced my work, I learn something from everyone.
We met at the MirartePhoto 2014 photographic meeting (Guadalajara-Spain). how would you describe your evolution since then?
¿2014? How time goes by. I have a certain frustration due to the lack of time; my work doesn't leave me much free time for photography unfortunately In my evolution I notice that I'm going through phases, I'm losing fear, shame and every time I feel that my works are freer, among other things because I don't live off photography; I can choose the moment, the project I want.
I am also much more critical of my photographic work, I feel free but responsible.
The Elena you knew shot a lot more; now I'm more reflective, calmer.
How did you come up with "Confined Self-Portraits"?
I came up with it because for the first time in a long time, because of the pandemic, I had time to go through my bookshelf with more affection and tranquility, one day reading a book by Cartier-Bresson I found a photo that I had already seen in an exhibition and I felt like replicating it as a tribute to the author. That was the first one, and from there, more tributes to different authors were emerging as a game and little by little my own self-portraits were emerging that... I was uploading in my networks, and the feedback from people encouraged me to continue, it was my contact with the outside world during the pandemic, something that began as a game and ended up accompanying me throughout the confinement where I learned a lot from the authors to whom I paid tribute, having the roles of photographer and model at the same time using only natural light was very enriching.
Is your series it right series? Manhattan we really liked the photographs, the video editing, and the music. Tell us about this work.
It was my first work. It's a trip that arises in the summer just after finishing my annual course at school. I was there only for four days and I did nothing else but spent time on the streets taking pictures and enjoying the city, I'm looking forward to returning to rediscovering it again.
What photographic equipment do you use?
I use a Fuji, the X-Pro2, and a fixed lens, the 35mm. In analog, I use a Leica and a Rolleiflex, which is a camera "to make friends", people come up to you and talk to you. People come up to you, talk to you about the camera, about photography. It's a lot of fun, analog cameras make you more relaxed when shooting and in the case of the Rollei I love the change to square format, it's another way of looking, of framing.
What is your favorite photograph?
I don't really know. There is a photograph that I'm very fond of because of its creative process: while I was in New York it suddenly started to rain in an exaggerated way that forced me to take shelter in a doorway; a few minutes later, when I could get out I found a different New York, a New York in the reflections of the puddles, the city was suddenly "at my feet".
How would you define your photographic style?
I have no idea. It's related to Black and White, obviously. I've always defined myself as a street photographer, but I've started doing self-portraits and I liked it; I've also done work in the world of dance and I've had a great time and it's been a different investigation, although not so much, the play with light and shadow is always in all of them.
Your latest work "Dance de l'eau" fuses dance and jellyfish. Are they related?
Yes, very much so. I was working in parallel on two things: on the one hand, I had just returned from Lisbon where I had photographed the jellyfish of the Oceanoario, which fascinate me visually. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to photograph the dancers at a dance festival thanks to Mosquera de la Vega. Reviewing the archives of both works I realized that there was an aesthetic coincidence between the jellyfish and the dancers, as well as a connection caused by similarities between them, their gracefulness of movement, the percentage of water in both, their permanence in time (both go back to the remote past) and I also discovered that jellyfish, in optimal environmental conditions can be eternal, like art, dance.
What advice would you give to young people starting out in photography?
I don't really like to give advice, but maybe I would tell them to see a lot of photography, to read books, to see many exhibitions, to go to the sources, to soak up photography, and visual culture. Without visual culture, we are lost.
And always carry your camera with you.
What are your next projects? Tell us about them
I have in mind a work in Menorca, about the island. I've been doing some research and I'd like to do it with cyanotypes. I'm going from black and white to blue and white. That blue reminds me a lot of the island, the beaches, and the sky. I'm working on it for next year.