Adrián Catalán’s refined portfolio is full of people with “mysterious attitudes”
A year spent in the darkroom while studying photography has been the biggest influence on the Spanish photographer’s career to date.
- Ruby Boddington
- 17 September 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Originally from Barcelona, where he is also currently based, photographer Adrián Catalán's portfolio stopped us in our tracks. Refined, subtle and altogether beautiful, Adrián’s imagery sees his subjects thrown into a perpetual summer evening, on jobs for the likes of T Magazine, Palomo Spain, Stella McCartney and Odda magazine.
“I think I chose photography in a very intuitive way,” the photographer tells us. “I started taking photos very early, when I was 14 years old I used to take photos of my friends at parties and on trips.” But it was one particular year after he finished school and went onto study film photography that influenced Adrián's current practice the most. During that time which he describes as “one of the best phases of my life,” he spent every day in the darkroom, instilling an analogue approach as integral to his work. “I think it defined the way I produce,” he adds. Adrián then went onto study fashion photography for a year, and the two schools of photography clearly combine in the work he creates today.
Away from the darkroom, it’s the collaborative nature of photography – and its ability to capture a moment – which keeps him hooked. “I love the idea of being able to develop my work with other creatives who I admire,” he says. This notion of development and progression is also key to his practice and in turn, he’s “always open to new proposals”. The projects which pique his interest though, are those which “at the end of the process have enriched me as a professional, these tend to be the most creative, such as personal and editorial projects.”
Adrián’s most recent project is one such personal endeavour. It’s a fanzine titled they don’t understand, and it portrays teenagers he’s encountered while out and about. Intimate and with their fair share of awkwardness, the portraits in they don’t understand delve into the adolescence as a subject, capturing myriad teenagers as they navigate such a complex time in their lives. Although strangers, Adrián manages to draw out an attentiveness in his subjects, pulling our focus through their direct gaze into the lens. On why he was interested in documenting teenagers, he simply tells us that it’s because “adolescence is a really rare stage of life.”
On the more commercial side of things, Adrián points to a project which was one of his “most special projects”; an editorial for Stella McCartney in collaboration with A Flamenco Catharsis. The images in this series are heartwarming and energetic, featuring four young flamenco dancers in their element. “It was just magical watching them dance and sing at sunset,” he recalls. “Since I was a child I have listened to flamenco because of my family, that's why this shoot was very emotional for me.”
It’s a rare talent to be able to channel such personality into commercial work, but it’s something Adrián has in spades. Flicking through his portfolio, it’s hard to know which work was produced for himself and which was produced for others, as there’s a softness and staunchness imbued into everything he does. “I think I'm still looking for a solid visual signature,” he says, when asked about the aesthetics of his work, “but maybe I do have some patterns, such as the relaxed and mysterious attitudes of the people I photograph.”
Indie Magazine (Copyright © Adrián Catalán, 2018)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.