My name is Ana Gómez de León. I think, as a photographer, I am a very curious spirit. I never stop exploring and discovering my own style. Furthermore, I am also a loner in a sense that I like getting lost with my camera and going to remote places like forests to shoot.
Who am I? A loner.
Why do I do what I do? To bear life’s absurdity.
How? Through the lens.
I use a Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-105mm. Canon 50mm and Canon 70-200mm. I’m a documenter of the beauty of the world. The gear helps me bear witness of it.
I wanted to get into photography to honor the memory of my father. He was very much into photography, and it’s a way to feel him closer to me and honor his life. I also got into photography because I can’t simply just live. I feel most alive when looking through the viewfinder and releasing the shutter button. It’s an exhilaration I have felt since I was nine years old, and I don’t ever want to stop feeling it. It’s my high. My first camera was a gift from my uncle. I remember it well, my white and blue Olympus.
My biggest influences are Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams, Emmet Gowin, Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley, Elizaveta Porodina, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson and my Mexican compatriot Emmanuel Lubezki. They have shaped who I am because I learned photography through them. I have a profound admiration for them and they have deeply influenced my creation because they have shaped my eyes with their art.
I started shooting when I was nine years old. I feel I’ve evolved in a sense that I have become more and more passionate about being in the moment and mindful when taking a photograph.
I am a nomad. I like wandering from place to place, never staying in the same place for long. Static is not my thing. I also believe learning and improving is a necessary part of every discipline so I like to keep on studying. I am an eternal student.
I love natural light. Always. I feel natural light is more loyal and more difficult to control. I like a challenge. I’m motivated by landscapes, trees, lakes, beauty, the kindness of strangers, beautiful golden hours, oneness (the fact that everything in this world is intertwined), and life itself.
Photography is so important to me because, as stated before, it makes me feel I have a purpose in life. I also believe I can contribute to documenting the beauty that surrounds us and that we often take for granted.
When I create my images, I am not thinking about how they will turn out in the end, especially after editing them. I am thinking about the moment of capturing as a performance and the relationship between me and my camera.
Besides the moment of actually taking a photograph, I really enjoy the editing process of selecting the best images I took. Another part I take delight in is using programs like Adobe Photoshop.
I think this project is important because it revolves around a topic that is very taboo (mental illness) which is very important to me (as I suffer from one).
The project I’m pitching is called Täke. Austmarka is a small village in the south of Norway with 251 inhabitants. It extends northward to the border with Sweden. Next to a beautiful forest, a dense fog covers the whole town in the morning. Täke, as they call the fog, surrounds houses, lakes, and the immense forest and makes it difficult to see for some hours.
From a personal experience, being a person with a mental illness can make you feel exactly like this: foggy. Intrusive ideas, obscure ideas, flood your brain. You try to push them away, but they might come back even stronger. I’ve carried depression since I was fifteen years old, and I’ve taken medication since then to get rid of this “fog” that crawls upon me. It always comes back, hovering, making it impossible to see things in my life clearly. These images you see are exactly how depression looks and feels to me. I feel a deep sense of emptiness, a void, and a colossal loneliness. No human contact, isolation, and hopelessness. But hopelessness is, in fact, important in life, it’s in the midst of being uncomfortable and afraid where all things meaningful emerge. Hopelessness and despair are important because without them we wouldn’t know faith. Polarities are a necessary part of life. Being in this residency was cathartic. It allowed me to explore these deep, tormented parts of myself to make something relevant out of them.
It is common knowledge that people in Scandinavian countries tend to get depressed due to the harsh conditions of the climate. More and more people, especially the young, are becoming more lonely, and mental health illnesses are on the rise all over the world: depression and anxiety, the diseases of our time. For me, it’s important to have honest, open conversations about mental health and the challenges it poses to today’s society and future generations.
All images by Ana Gómez de León. Used with permission. Be sure to check out her website.