10 years of shooting friends, lovers and moments of beauty

In 'Diaris 2009-2019', Catalan photographer Alba Yruela presents a decade of sun-soaked memories.

by Jenna Mahale
19 November 2021, 8:00am

You can find Alba Yruela’s hometown, the historic site of Empordanet, tucked between the mountains and the sun-drenched coast of Catalonia. Now based in Barcelona, shooting portrait work, still life and fashion editorials, the photographer traces the origins of her craft back to her earlier days, and the desire to hold onto the beauty of the nature around her. “The spectrum of colours, from the green forest to the ochre-red tones of the soil, to the intense blue of the sea horizon, really makes you appreciate the richness of the land,” she says.

This enduring appreciation for the natural environment is evident throughout Diaris 2009-2019, Alba’s latest project, a 400-page collection of personal images that illustrate the photographer’s life in that period of time. Pictures of bright flowers, sprawling plains and emerald green pools of water are interspersed between half-naked lovers and giggling friends. “I photograph the light and the beauty that surrounds me,” Alba says. “I’m driven by situations where something captivates me. I love the small details in everyday life, and I aim to highlight the beauty I see in them through my images.”

a young man lies in repose across a beige couch

This book documents 10 whole years of your life. Does it feel strange to publish something so intimate? 
Not really! I've shared photos of my most intimate moments since the beginning of my practice. Once I discovered that I could share my feelings through my images, I haven’t stopped doing so. 

Tell me about some of the particular people and places in this book. 
Most of the people that appear in the book are still close to me, though there are some who have taken different paths. I lost contact with them, but it makes me happy to be able to revive them and the friendship we had back then through the photographs.

on the left: a still life of a vase of long, reedy yellow flowers; on the right: two friends sitting and chatting on a white staircase look back at the photographer who is further up the stairs

Which photographers or image-makers do you look up to? Who and why?
I admire lots of photographers and image-makers, but to point out some, I would say that seeing Lina Scheynius’ work early on in my practice was very formative. It made me think to look more closely at what was around me. I also love Charlie Engman’s work, especially the project he recently published, titled ‘MOM’ — it blew my mind.

When people look at your work, what would you like them to take away from it?
I want them to feel, or even live the image. I’ve had stunning feedback from people I don’t even know who have reached out to me to express how much they were moved by the book. I gave a little talk the other day, and one girl came up to me afterwards and told me she cried while going through the pages. To have such an influence on people through my work is overwhelming, but it’s also something like a dream for me.

on the left: an image of a hand resting on another's upper thigh; on the right: yellow petals are sprinkled over a pale blue bedspread

How does it feel for you to look at some of the earlier years of this photobook?
I am not usually given to nostalgia. Looking back to the earlier years mostly just makes me proud of myself for having made the decision to take photos, and sticking to it. But I do love to look at the book because it makes me remember moments that, without the images, would probably now be lost.

Tell me about your upcoming projects. Do they feature similar motifs to Diaris 2009-2019, or are you looking to do something a bit different?
My next upcoming project is a newspaper zine publication in collaboration with the artist Berta Blanca T-Ivanow and the poet Carine Valette. I documented Berta’s work during my visits to her studio throughout the past year. We'll also be releasing an audiovisual piece I put together from those encounters. 

Creating an archive of specific moments has always fascinated me. After years of archiving my images, I think that the most important thread running through them is the theme of time. 

the cover of diaris 2009-2019, a side profile shot of woman holding her head in her hands, pressing into a bed
left: a single long-stemmed red daisy; right: a model in salmon pink underwear, her bare stomach and thighs catch the sunlight
a blurry close-up double spread of two faces pressed together, lovers in embrace
left: a close-up of a model's face, obscured by her long hair; right: a shadowy hand makes a loose fist against a textured glass window
piles of pastel netted fabric are layered to create a kind of landscape
left: a black and white close-up of nude model submerged in water; right: a flower stem in black and white, centre of the frame
left: a butterfly sits on a pink flower in a field of them; right: a model in a backless swimsuit faces the ocean
a double page spread from the book: left is a blueish blurry photo of a curly-haired model's face, taken from below; right is a picture of dark clouds on an otherwise sunlit sky


All images courtesy Alba Yruela

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