Plants typically aren’t the first subjects that come to mind whenever we want to document silence and solitude. But for Dublin-based Juan Alfonso Solis, they are actually perfect for the job given their plenty of similarities with us. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this realization, prompting him to create a moody and cinematic personal project he called “Dark Nature.”
“I started this project during the first Lockdown in March. I believe humans, animals and plants share similarities and existence,” he said on the inspiration behind the series. “We were all going through difficult times with COVID-19 and we continue suffering from the pandemic.”
Delivering metaphors through cinematic tones
To reflect the ordeal that the world is currently facing, Juan turned to dark, cinematic tones to deliver his metaphor. He got really close to his subjects to isolate them from everything else and capture all their details and textures. He also achieved the moody darkness require by his concept by shooting in natural light only “to make them unique and real.”
“Each plant in dark nature represents a human being going through difficulties. This is the main idea and metaphor behind it. I wanted them to have feelings like humans; at the end we are all living beings.”
The result is an emotive representation of plants in all their glorious details, still blooming and thriving against the gloom that surrounds them. I especially like how Juan included the most colorful and delicate subjects for this project to remind us that life doesn’t stop being beautiful against the dark.
A multidisciplinary creative process
Being a multidisciplinary designer, Juan had a diverse creative toolbox to use to put together this cinematic project. He thinks that he did unconsciously tap into his eye for detail and conceptualizing expertise as part of his process.
“As a multidisciplinary designer, I like to design everything with a concept and an idea behind starting with a briefing. I believe in meaningful design and branding and I think my eye for detail and creative background is also an important part of my photography. I think all the disciplines complement each other and they follow a similar creative process.”
I was also curious about what it was like for him to photograph the lines, shapes and colors found in nature in contrast to the geometric shapes and tech elements typically seen in his projects. For him, it’s all rooted in clear, minimalistic and simple graphic design.
“I love minimalistic, clear and simple graphic design. Graphic design is all about geometry, order and shapes. I like the lines, curves and dynamism of the plants in the space so I always find interesting to photograph these elements in the nature when I am traveling.”
All photos by Juan Alfonso Solis. Used with permission.