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“The Process of Metamorphosis”
In Conversation with Letizia Guel
As the cooler months draw closer, we explore the profound process of metamorphosis. For Fall/Winter ‘21, we head deep into the forests of Germany, where photographer Letizia Guel documents one of our most consequential collections to date. Through photographic and processing techniques, the interplay of light and dark, and the backdrop of abundant nature, Letizia captures the universal and mysterious experience of transformation. We talk to her about her personal photography style, where she finds inspiration, and how she was able to bring the concept of metamorphosis to life.
Images: Letizia Guel
aeyde: What initially drew you to photography as a career?

Letizia: I was drawn to the sense of freedom, the possibility to tell stories, the ability to transmit feelings and sensations, and the ability to bring ideas to life. Photography is a medium through which you can reach many people and you can help to transgress many established social norms, diversity, identity, gender, and try to give power to minorities.

a: How would you describe your photography style? How has that developed over the years?

LG: I could describe my photography style with words like freedom, diversity, disobedience, and rebellion. It takes a lot of dedication and attitude. From the time I first started taking photos until now, I have been developing my own look that is connected to my personal growth. There is always something new to learn. I think a career in photography is not so much about knowing how a camera and technical equipment work, but instead about being in touch with your philosophy, history, society, and everything that surrounds you. It’s more about how you perceive the world and how you want to show it.

a: What intrigued you about the Metamorphosis campaign?

LG: What really intrigued me was the concept of metamorphosis itself, and how I would be able to experiment to capture a feeling of transformation and convey it with my photography. I liked the emphasis on light and dark, and I used flash and hard light to give a sense of contrast set against the mystery that nature offers us.
a: How did you go about capturing the mood of Metamorphosis through your photography?

I was aware of the concept at all times and wanted to bring it to life through flashes of different forms of light, movements, and the grain of the analog film. After this, I wanted to take this feeling of transformation even further—beyond even the final visual image—which I did through the analog development process.

a: How did you approach working within nature? Which techniques did you use?

LG: Metamorphosis is a natural process, so this shoot had to be shot somewhere that made the collection really look and feel like an element of nature. I enjoyed working with the wonderful team who made it possible to move easily with our equipment within this huge field and forest setting. We shot in both 120mm and 35mm formats in order to have a balance of both cleaner images and images with some noise. Also, when you are in places where the background and lighting can vary, there are unexpected situations where you have to improvise. You also have to know exactly when the sun is setting so you can shoot the best light. When the darkness draws in and you don’t have electricity, things start to get more difficult, but we managed it without any issues. It was an amazing experience!
a: The photography takes us from daytime to nighttime. What was your experience of shooting in these different conditions?

LG: Although the space is technically the same, it’s almost as if you are experiencing two different spaces. Visually, they are two completely different worlds where the tools and techniques required are different. I like to play with diversity, and I like the idea of mixing contrasting aesthetics where there is still a harmony or visual context that connects them. The images from the day are visually different from those from the night, but they also complement each other and work to convey this feeling of metamorphosis.

a: Do you have a favorite shot from the campaign? What makes it your favorite?

LG: It's very difficult to choose only one photo. Ideally, I would choose a minimum of three that sit harmoniously together. I really like the nighttime photos where the flash creates contrast on the model’s body. The combination of the black sky in the background and the bright white of her clothes, shoes, and flowers is very effective.

a: What excites you about film photography?

LG: I like to work with film and to do all the developing myself too. This way, I can dedicate time to the process in a considerate way and with absolute care. But I don’t use film for nostalgic or romantic reasons—at least that’s what I tell myself—I use it because I like to experiment, to learn about the chemicals, and to work with the negatives and photographic paper. It allows you to be creative and to tell stories by combining traditional techniques with contemporary ideas. There is so much beauty in the colors, the grain, and the texture of the images. Plus, having to stop to consider each shot before shooting allows me to refine my technique. In some ways, film photography feels like it has more soul.
a: Can you describe the process of developing the images?

LG: From the moment you start developing a negative to the moment the photograph is in your hand is a long process of transformation and experimentation that aligns perfectly with this concept of metamorphosis. Somehow, you can feel the transformation an image undergoes in almost a physical way.

a: Where do you find inspiration?

I find a lot of my inspiration in looking, listening, exploring, and paying attention to every little detail that comes my way. Many times this creates a dilemma—should I take my camera out to capture this, or should I live in the moment? I try to just experience it and enjoy it, and allow it to inspire me. Connections and experiences, conversations with friends, songs that move you—all of this is occupying a place inside you and work together to create new senses and ideas.
Images: Letizia Guel
Styling: Tim Tobias Zimmermann
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