How this Barcelona creative came to shoot one of the most arresting album covers of the year, and its connection to her own sensitive nudes.
Little-known Spanish photographer and art director Carlota Guerrero burst onto the scene this week with an instantly-iconic image: the cover of Solange's new album A Seat at the Table, which launched today. The photographer also contributed imagery to the singer's 112-page conceptual digital book, celebrating blackness and creativity. With an eerie, spare style that feels like a modern departure for Beyoncé's aesthetically-minded sister, the photos are the work of a private woman based in Barcelona. Guerrero is a 26-year-old photographer and art director whose work can be described as a visual celebration of the female body. She shoots flowers, trees, still lifes, cityscapes, and above all, women -- sometimes clothed, sometimes not. The hallmark of her pictures is a light, humid mist, a murky light which is instantly recognizable. We talk to the young creative about how her emotional work meshes with the new aesthetic of a modern icon.
What initially drew you to photography?
Ever since my childhood I wanted to express myself in images and once I discovered the power of photography I was hooked. I got obsessed with taking pictures of particular subjects, colors and spaces. I just kept going until I realized I was creating a language that I really enjoyed.
You mostly shoot women. What fascinates you so much about the female figure?
It comes naturally to me. I wake up every morning in a female body so it feels pretty organic to explore the female condition in my work.
How did your collaboration with Solange come about?
She discovered my art on Instagram and her manager asked me to join her last June to art direct a dance performance at the Tate Modern. We had an instant creative connection and I just kept working with her on the music videos and the artwork for this album.
That must have been quite an experience!
I had a great time. We spent the whole of August working together, going back and forth between New Orleans and New Mexico in a van, shooting every day. It was hard work but we had a lot of fun.
When I look at your work I see that's there's a big focus on femininity, which is also the case with Solange Knowles' booklet. Was that something you bonded over?
For sure. The strength of solidarity between black women is one of the key narratives of this project so a lot of the images we made reflect that energy.
What does girl power mean to you?
The power I find in my body and soul is infinite and that power is strengthened when I get to share it with other women. Together we are powerful beyond measure.
How do you feel about the way female body is looked at in the 21st century?
We're getting there. Natural beauty is more present than a couple of years ago. The last few years I've been able to look at myself without feeling ashamed or ugly because of natural features like hair or bloodlike I did when I was a teenager. That's a direct consequence of confident women showing themselves in a very raw, natural way and looking much more beautiful and interesting than any overproduced picture.
Is that why you prefer shooting film?
I love the process of analog photography. You really need to think about what you're going to shoot and you have to wait for that perfect moment. It's real and it helps me to get that raw aesthetic my photography possesses.
You mentioned that you also worked on some videos for the album.
I did the art direction for 'Cranes In The Sky' and 'Don't Touch My Hair'. I worked very closely with Solange for these videos. She's very hands-on and has an amazing vision.
What's your favorite picture of the project?
I'm going to go with the one where she's covered in gold while standing in the middle of the desert. She blew me away that day. We covered her in honey and glitter and in spite of the burning desert sun shining down on her, she performed and posed for hours. Her work ethic really inspires me. She is such a strong, talented, hard-working woman and she's taught me a lot.
Text Aaron Vanmaele
All images courtesy Carlota Guerrero