María Moldes: La Costa

October 26 2014

María Moldes is a Spanish photographer who has become something of an Instagram sensation over the past year. Her grotesque yet strangely beautiful, imagery from around the sun-baked towns of Spain’s occidental coast makes for a compelling look at ageing, isolation and self-awareness. And in the tradition of the best street photography, it holds a rather unflattering mirror up to our own sense of vanity. She works exclusively with an iPhone, that most inconspicuous and versatile of photographic tools.

Hometown: Portonovo, a city in the north of Spain
Current residence: Alicante, Spain
My favorite sandwich is Serrano ham with fresh tomato baguette.
I take my coffee… I don’t drink coffee… I’m too excitable!
On Sundays, I go to the beach to take photos if it’s nice out, if not I stay home and watch a film—mysteries and horror flicks are the best!

Full interview with María after the photos.

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Tell us about your background. Did you study photography?

I studied psychology at university. Up until last year, photography was a hobby. But I’m spending more and more time involved with it now. I’ve received a grant from MISTOS photography school in Alicante, and you could say that photography has been like a full time job for me this year.

You take most of your photos with an iPhone. What do you think about mobile phones as a photographic tool?

I like taking photographs with any camera I have to hand. I believe photography is evolving and I am open to experimenting with it. At the moment I take most of my photos with my iPhone. It allows me to get really close to people I photograph without them noticing, so their facial expressions stay the same. I don’t want to have an impact in the scene and a phone allows for this. People feel more intimidated by a traditional camera and they stop acting naturally. Also, sometimes I like the way the lens distorts the image, giving a surreal feel. A camera phone gives me exactly what I’m looking for. This doesn’t mean that I will only ever use a camera phone… Who knows what I’ll be doing tomorrow!

Where are most of your photos taken?

Most of them are taken where I live, in the East coast of Spain. This region has amazing light and it’s full of pensioners from all over Europe trying to enjoy life.

How do you get such candid shots?

To be honest, I don’t really do anything special. I simply pretend I’m not doing anything suspicious… I just wear dark sunglasses so people can’t tell what I’m looking at, I move naturally and with confidence, and so far so good! 

Your subject matter has such a particular beauty—it’s grotesque, stunning, and just so… human! Tell us about your connection to the people you shoot and why.

I’m not interested in beautiful or ‘normal’ people. That’s boring! I’m interested in people with peculiarities, people who dress in bright colours or fashion loud hairdos, people with confidence in the way they look and with character. This type of people have something about them, they make me imagine they are characters in a sci-fi movie. I also photograph older people, but this is not intentional. It’s just a reflection of the society where I live. Spain has one of the oldest populations in the world and this is apparent in the streets.

Follow @mariamoldes on Instagram.