Nydia Lilian Cavazos Sáenz: Sueños in black & white

Posted on January 11, 2016

Through photography we see images through the photographer’s lens, but we are also given a mirror to peak into the mind & soul of the photographer. This look inward is readily apparent in the works of Nydia Lilian. By combining stunning Mexican landscapes with elements of traditional folklore, Lilian’s audience is propelled into an alternate reality. We had the opportunity to talk with her about her signature black & white photography, as well as some other fun topics.

FotoFoam

You give a surreal look to nature. What are your favorite things to photograph in the natural world?

NLCS

I like to think that I’m searching a little deeper than just simple instants, like I’m designing the reality I visualize. I’m always looking for an exotic and unusual aesthetic, but at the same time, beautiful from my personal point of view. To me it is really outstanding when I see an epic-dramatic look in nature, so I try to shoot these kinds of scenarios. 

Some of my favorite things can be very different from each other, it can be anything that conveys the feeling and the message that I want to create in that moment. Sometimes I find inspiration from landscapes, crazy clouds, sunsets, animals, even cities. Also tiny worlds in macro photography, like water, ice, dust, eyes.

FotoFoam

Your photography has a beautiful dream-like feeling. Do you have recurring dreams that inspire your work? 

NLCS

Since I was young I’ve always had a vivid imagination also a little bit dramatic, I love daydreaming. Mainly, I felt the need to explore my inner self and to transform it however I could into images. I’m really inspired by nature and beautiful places, I see it as a completely different world every time. I’m usually inspired by topics like epic realism, the universe, chaos, alternative realities, the end of the world, like a “real” nightmare.

FotoFoam

How has being from Mexico inspired you? Do you believe in ghosts?

NLCS

The most inspiring thing in Mexico would be the food, and also our dark humor. Being from Mexico brings emotional charges, there is so much contrast and irony here, from our society and industrial cities to our small towns and beautiful landscapes. What I like most is we can laugh and make fun of many things, even the tragic ones, like The Dead of the Day. I definitely don’t believe in ghosts but I love to watch movies about them!

FotoFoam 

How did you discover your passion for black & white?

NLCS

I took a Minimal Photography course at Oaxaca, Mexico. Since then, I started looking at my work in a different way; I identified myself with abstract-minimal compositions, and black and white helped a lot to simplify these ideas. For me, black and white processing is like an alternate reality. Although, last year I broke up my relationship with using exclusively monochromatic pictures, I don’t know what happened to me this past year, but I really like experimenting with colors at the moment.

FotoFoam

The stars are important in your photography. Do you feel a deep connection with them? Or are the stars purely an aesthetic choice?

NLCS

Absolutely for the aesthetics, but I do feel a very deep connection too. I think The Universe is the biggest and most beautiful thing we all have, and guess what? it’s for free!, because all people have always collectively thought how small we are at some point of our lives… it’s eternal, intriguing, quiet, but at the same chaotic and we don’t know much about it. I think the key word to describe how I feel when I see the stars is “wonder”.

FotoFoam

Top 5 best musicians/musical groups?

NLCS

There are too many bands that I like, but if I had to choose, I would say those that I have been to listening recently are David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Cerati, Bjork and Blonde Redhead.

FotoFoam

When you go out into nature do you camp? What is your wildest story from your photography travels?

NLCS

I usually don’t camp, I’ve traveled with friends and lately with my husband; we love to just drive and get lost wherever we are. I personally prefer driving and changing landscapes until finding a really good shot. Whenever I find a nice spot we start walking, then we stop so I can take pictures while he plays whatever musical instrument he has… I think this is super cool because I feel like there is a soundtrack for that moment.

When I first went to Mazunte, Oaxaca with a dear girl friend, we struggled walking over stones on the beach for a long distance in a choppy sea in order to cross to another beach. We didn’t realize how dangerous the road was until we arrived to that beach and a random tourist asked us how to get to Mazunte beach; we stupidly told her how we did it… a few minutes later she came back seriously beaten, soaked and bloody; she told us that a wave knocked her over the stones… it was like “oh shit” for us and ultimately we got lost getting back to Mazunte on a different way, we walked for 10 hours straight and it was one of the most exhausting and amusing days of my life.

FotoFoam

Within the body of work you have on FotoFoam – how did you discover these beautiful places to photograph?

NLCS

It’s best if you can travel easily to find new beautiful places, you can also walk a lot and wait for the perfect shot anywhere. But I think the most important step in the process is the selection of the right pictures to conceptualize a project.

But seriously, anyone can find a good shot anywhere. Fun fact: some time ago, I sold some images through licensing and most of the photographs were taken in the backyard of my parents house in my spare time.

FotoFoam

Where should I go in Mexico for the best tacos?

NLCS

It depends on what kind of ‘tacos’ you are referring to… but, there are basically Taquerías everywhere.

First, there are what we know as Quesadillas, in some cases they don’t have any cheese (yeah, weird right?) you can find great tacos in street markets in Mexico City. Huitlacoche quesadillas are my favorite.

Second, we have Enchiladas… these are tacos with cheese and salsa poured on the top. My favorite Enchilada restaurants are “La Mariposa” in Queretaro and “Palax” in Monterrey.

Third, in the north of Mexico, where I’m from…steak and meat are a big deal. In Monterrey I strongly recommend the Parrilladas, which is a mega combo of grilled steak and meat, tortillas, charro beans, roasted onion, guacamole and quesadillas…with cheese. If you are ever in Monterrey, you should go to “Parrillada Cumbres”, “El Jared”, “La Nacional”, “San Carlos” Restaurants, just to name a few.

FotoFoam

Are there any folklores or fantasy stories that have particularly inspired you?

NLCS

Hayao Miyazaki Movies, Day of the Dead in Mexico, Stories and theories of the end of the world, like Neo Genesis Evangelion.. 

FotoFoam

What is your second passion after photography?

NLCS

I occasionally draw and paint, but honestly I think I have a masters degree as a TV-series viewer.

FotoFoam 

What are the most important elements of a perfect photograph?

NLCS

What I’m always trying to do is to have my photographs convey a message, without having to justify it so much with words. The picture itself needs to be a great one from your own personal point of view, and the photographic style could be the thing that sets the message clear. For example, if we had a ‘technically’ bad picture, but some few people get a special feeling, then I think it’s a perfect photograph.

Once I read somewhere that Art is a lot like a joke… if you have to explain it, then it’s probably because you are telling it badly or it’s not even funny.

FotoFoam

What is the most beautiful beach in Mexico?

NLCS

Tulum, Quintana Roo & Mazunte, Oaxaca.

FotoFoam

What can we look forward to from Nydia Lilian in 2016?

NLCS

I’m working and making preparations of some shots of Iceland for my first solo exhibition. I hope it will be completed soon.

FotoFoam

Exciting, we can’t wait to see how it comes out! 

You can view more work by Nydia Lilian here.