Carlota Guerrero’s enchanting approach to photography is now beautifully commemorated in her new coffee-table book, Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón: The Photographs of Carlota Guerrero.
The Barcelona-based photographer, who has created now-iconic imagery for musicians such as Solange and Rosalía, and collaborated with fashion brands like Paloma Wool and Desigual, used the pandemic as vital production time for her new literary offering. The book is a stunning—and vast—artistic collection that provides an intricate analysis of the female form, friendships, and the power of community.
In the forward, Guerrero details the origin of her signature aesthetic: ethereal depictions of nudity that celebrate the female form in a dream world devoid of the male gaze. Inspired after taking an impromptu trip to the beach with longtime girlfriends, Guerrero filled the pages of her book with images of women in their raw and natural states, embodying the various emotions, memories, and traumas women often carry, including shame and guilt, freedom and love.
Ahead, we speak with Guerrero about bringing Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón to life, why women are her ultimate inspiration, and why she feels it’s her responsibility to disrupt the male gaze that’s long plagued the art world.
Your book is such a wonderful culmination of your career thus far. What was it like curating so many standout moments from your work?
It was a beautiful process. I was lucky enough to have time because of the pandemic. Of course, I stopped traveling so I could focus on going through my archive and really take the time to do it properly. It was my first book, and I really wanted to do something that represented my volume of work. I started tracking my [artistic] patterns and trying to find some sense in my repetitions and obsessions. That’s how I decided to create a conversation between all of the images.
What were some obsessions you noticed in your work?
I can see a lot of them, but mainly the human connection is something that I’m constantly trying to portray, and then something about our animal-like entity as well. Of course, everything about the feminine energy in general too.
Why do women continue to be one of your biggest inspirations when it comes to creating imagery?
I guess, first of all, it’s because I am one. So it’s my first interest when I wake up in my body. My experience here is very defined by that energy. Then my dad died when I was, like, 15, so I was raised mainly by women—my mom, my sister, and my group of girlfriends who were very, very, very solid. My life was driven by women always, and I couldn’t help but feel love and admiration towards them. I had this urge to portray that energy that was inspiring and still inspires me.
You’ve also worked with some really amazing musicians, actors, and artists over the years. What do you specifically look for in a collaborator?
There definitely has to be good energy [between us] and feeling like there’s some good chemistry between us too. Seeing that we understand the world in [similar ways] as well. I’m pretty open to collaborating—I really like taking my ideas and merging worlds to see what can happen.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you feel like you create some of your best work when you’re at home in Barcelona. With traveling out of the picture this last year, how did you manage to stay inspired? Did you run into any challenges?
It was such a weird year. I felt inspired as I experienced the weirdness of it. It was so unusual and new for me to spend so much time at my house in Barcelona, so I wanted to discover how I was [creatively] in this new scenario.
I feel it’s not that hard for me to find the motivation to create. I get possessed by all the new things that I want to do. I woke up today, and I was already thinking of a new project that I want to start doing. I was thinking recently, When is my time to stop creating going to come? But I guess it’s not ever going to come. I always want to work.
What do you want readers to take away from this new body of work?
Hopefully, they’ll feel inspired, and hopefully, it makes women—and men—comfortable with their own beauty and with their own condition. I just always want my work to be timeless.
How do you think the concept of the female gaze has changed over the years, and what do you think it means in the year 2021?
All of the women of my generation and similar generations, we grew up with these impossible standards pushed onto us mainly by men. We grew up normalizing that mothers were like a compass for men to conquer upon. It took me a long time, even when I was already a photographer, to realize how wrong that was.
I feel like it’s my responsibility to change that, to showcase even something as obvious, like, women having the right to decide how they are presenting themselves to the world, and why by no means that should only be defined by men. It’s so twisted that we were so objectified and sexualized, and we couldn’t have a say in how we wanted to be sexualized or how we wanted to be objectified.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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