The work of Mexican-born, New York-based photographer Francesca Beltran fuses tenderness with a taste of nostalgia. Both raw and ethereal, her images explore the subtle translucence that often exists between reality and dreamscapes. She creates visual narratives that offer glimpses into the unbearable lightness of being, which is fitting as she cites Milan Kundera as one of her creative influences.
Beltrans passions mix photography and writing, travel, and music. Her work ranges from interviewing indie bands, photographing festivals, as well as reviewing art exhibitions and live shows. Beltrans photography has been featured in i-D, Harpers Bazaar, Vice, and Nylon, among others.
Francesca Beltran gave us some insight into her life obsessions, her creative inspirations, and the different meanings of home.
Lola Who: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Francesca: Mexican, Gemini, honest, passionate and complex. Im obsessed with music, traveling, The Smiths and outer space. I want to become a song.
Lola Who: Youre from Mexico, have lived in Italy, and currently reside in New York. Where is home?
Francesca: Home is a state of mind. I am home in my room in New York City, I am home at Sway on Sundays, I am home at my grandmas place in Mexico, I am home in nature and I am home whenever Im on the road. Wherever I feel fulfilled, I am home.
Lola Who: Did you go to school to study photography?
Francesca: No. I once took a darkroom class in school, but everything Ive learned has been through pressing buttons, reading manuals, asking questions and just trial and error. I shoot analog, so I’m always experimenting and hoping for the best.
Lola Who: What is the photographic process like for you? Do you have particular rituals or schedules?
Francesca: Not at all. Photography is my form of expression, so I just try to bring a camera with me everywhere I go. My passion for writing and photography was born from my desire to remember places, faces, moments, feelings and ideas. To me, theres nothing scarier in life than to forget any of it.
Lola Who: What types of cameras do you shoot with and what is your favourite editing accessory?
Francesca: I dont like to play favorites, but my Nikon FM2 is the one I use the most. Her name is Morgan. Shes quite old, and her light leaks are both a blessing and a curse. I also have a Polaroid Land that I adore, and a couple of point-and-shoot cameras that I like to play with from time to time. I dont do much editing, but when I do I use Photoshop.
Lola Who: There is often a dreamlike quality to your work. How would you describe your photographic style?
Francesca: I once read that Nostalgia is the longing for something that never was. I think that describes what I am trying to achieve through my work. Thats what I love the most about photography; its a moment that is frozen in time, and that will forever mean different things to different people.
Lola Who: Who are some photographers, or other artists, who have guided your creative vision?
Francesca: Guy Bourdin, Tim Walker, Neil Krug, Francesca Woodman, Ryan McGinley. I dont think my work is a reflection of theirs, but they inspire the feeling I strive to evoke. Also, Camus, Salinger, Milan Kundera and The Smiths are a huge influence in the way I perceive life. No idea where Id be without them.
Lola Who: Youre a writer as well as a photographer, and there are often many possible narratives for each of your photographs: each frame is like a short story. What is the interrelationship between text and images for you?
Francesca: I feel my photos often reflect what I cant express with words, particularly when I travel. Every time I try to write about what its like to be on the road I fail miserably, but sometimes, with a bit of luck, a photograph can speak for itself. My photography reflects the world around me, and my writing reveals the world within.
Lola Who: What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
Francesca: I want people to feel something. I want them to imagine worlds and characters that dont necessarily exist. I want them to want to be in all these places and most importantly, I want to inspire them to go out and try to find them.
Lola Who: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Francesca: That it would become a very expensive addiction. Also, I think the most important thing you can learn as a photographer is that you should’nt try to make your work resemble others. It took me a long time to understand that my work looks a certain way because it isand always will bea mirror of who I am. Some will like it, others will hate it, but the only thing that matters is that I am proud of it.
Lola Who: Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
Francesca: I recently bought an 8mm camera, and I’m in the process of shooting a short video. I dont really know what category it falls under… I only know how I want it to look like, and Im very excited to just do it.
By Emily Paskevics