At ease in Latin and ancient Greek in high school, thirsty for literature, she would have seen herself as a writer or editor. Why not diplomat. “I was a good student. Photography as a job? Honestly, I had never thought of that.” assures Coco Capitán. Just in her thirties, the Spaniard, who grew up between Seville and Cadiz, quickly found her place in the very closed circle of fashion photography. After exhibitions devoted to her work between 2018 and 2022, in Seoul, Paris, London, Amsterdam or Tokyo, she is the subject of a beautiful book, to be published in the “Percevoir” collection of Éditions de La Martinière, a selection affordable books on emerging talent.
“I wanted to make a book that would be like a doorway into my world. Without unnecessary complications. I selected, to be frank, the photos that remained in a corner of my memory and with which I had been satisfied”, she explains. Reflecting ten years of production, mostly on film, these come from personal projects as well as orders, without the model of the book making any distinction. “Nor any hierarchy”, she points out. His clients include fashion publications (Dust, A Magazine Curated by, Dazed…) or brands, such as Givenchy and especially Gucci, with which she collaborated in particular in 2017, customizing certain ready-to-wear pieces with messages drawn in her writing in slightly awkward capital letters.
Because, from one session to the next, Coco Capitán always keeps her personal notebooks, clutter “photos, Polaroids, old train tickets and notes that I take on my impressions, my misunderstandings or the imprint left on me by people I have just met”, she details. His book, he boils down to photos but can also be consulted like a diary. We can recognize a few faces of celebrities, captured gently, such as actress Amanda Seyfried, visual artist Eliza Douglas, author Fran Lebowitz or rapper Tyler, The Creator. But it is the relatives of the photographer, his friends or girlfriends, Charlotte, Erik or Barney, his sister Candela, who come back most frequently, like playmates, between a trip to Japan, shots of daisies or sheep adorable. Everywhere, the same candor seems to halo the world of Coco Capitán.
“His work is marked by a freedom and a lightness of approach that distinguish him from his predecessors and most of his contemporaries”, sums up Simon Baker, the director of the European House of Photography, in Paris, who devoted a show to her in 2019. A reader first and foremost, Coco cites few photographers she admires, except Shomei Tomatsu ( 1930-2012) or Henry Wessel (1942-2018), with whom she shares a taste for sunlight.
In her mastered compositions, she builds a beautiful but plausible biotope, where the clarity of the day envelops you, where the journey lifts your soul, where the sea always wants to be welcoming, whether you sail there or swims without a bathing suit. The spleen or the brutality, they remain at the door. “I don’t force my subjects to smile either, nuance the artist who studied across the Channel at the London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art. But it’s true that I like to photograph close friends who we can see have the joy of living in them. »
Throughout the pages, Coco Capitán places her sensitive portraits alongside varied snapshots. Often, little nothings of ordinary life, leftover eggshells, a can of Coca-Cola, a packet of Marlboro. Or else with disturbing images that cannot be forgotten, as if a fit of desire had struck the air. Lemon yellow, romantic reds, swimming pool or navy blues, the green of manicured lawns: the colours, seen through its prism, always radiate a special radiance. A slight saturation seems to underline that the mundane subjects and objects around us carry a magic within them.
Coco Capitan, edited by Simon Baker, Editions de La Martinière, “Percevoir” collection, 120 pages, €20.90. In bookstores June 2.