The best bit about Sunday Mornings at the River is the people we bump into on our zine printing quests. And sometimes when we are really lucky, we bump into a couple of them at once, as was the case with Leire Galarza and Mònica Bedmar. Leire and Mònica are not just friends, they are also both photographers and occasional adventurers. Both of them were born in Spain but have been globetrotting quite extensively before they bumped into each other in Barcelona. With a new zine in the making and an upcoming show in Barcelona, we decided to have a little chat with the girls about ‘Sea You Soon,’ double exposures and scrambled eggs on toast.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Leire: I was born in Northern Spain but I decided to move to Barcelona to study medicine. Nevertheless life throws us curve balls, and I ended up taking the photographic path; then is when I met Mònica.
Mònica: I’m from Barcelona but I’ve been living in a lot of places these last years. I lived in cities like Amsterdam, but also a small town in Catalonia near the beach and an isolated house in the Galician mountains. It’s good to move, you always learn something about the land and yourself. I met Leire in a little village in the north of Catalonia, she was taking a photography course and I was there with my boyfriend. When I talked to her I knew we were speaking the same language.
Do you travel for your pictures or do you take your camera with you?
We do a little bit of both. Our cameras come with us every time we leave the house. Sometimes we don’t have anything planned but suddenly things start to unfold, beautiful light catches your eye and magic starts happening.
Who do you love to have with you on the road?
Somebody with whom we can share comfortable silences.
When would you say a trip is successful?
A trip is successful when you learn something from it, when your life changes after it somehow, and specially when you meet some new life friends.
A lot of your pictures show road trips and adventures, how do you manage to be on the road so often?
Mònica: I’m happy on the road, and so is my companion. He organises photographic courses around the world and we manage to go together often and stay some more days on the destination. I also work as a photographer and art director so I can combine travel and work easily.
Leire: I just work some few months and then I use all the money I made on travels and photography material. I always travel on a budget; camping, hitchiking, etc. It makes my trips more interesting because you have to be more creative.
You shoot analogue, why does this suit you so well?
We love the aesthetics of analog photography. But is also has to do with the romanticism involved in the photographic process; the anticipation of waiting to see the pictures for the first time; being able to hold a physical object in your hand (whether that is a negative or a print). Another really important thing for us personally, is that when we are shooting on film, we take less pictures than when we shoot digital. This enables us to enjoy our trips more and lets us focus more on the experience in itself, instead of the experience from behind the lens.
Your new zine ‘Sea You Soon’ contains double exposures as well as ‘normal’ 35 mm shots, what is the story behind that?
We both used this technique long before we crossed paths. We decided to use this technique for our project ‘Sea You Soon’ in order to really collaborate, both shooting the same frame so that both of our visions came together in one shot.
Nature plays a big role in your portfolio, your new book seems to be dedicated to the sea. Where does this fascination come from?
We feel very comfortable in nature, and specially in the ocean. We were born on the sea-side, one in each coast surrounding the Spanish peninsula. So swimming in the sea and feeling the salt on our skin somehow makes us feel at home.
In your new book‚ Sea You Soon’ you incorporated pictures of dried plants, what is the story behind that?
We loved spending time in botanic gardens while we were travelling together, drawing and writing inside. We see dried plants as living postcards, they contain the best of the trip in their beauty.
What can you tell us about your upcoming trips / projects?
Leire: I have been traveling quite a lot on my own lately and I’m currently residing in Norway until I continue my journey. I would like to publish something after this this long stay in Norway.
Mònica: I became a mother six months ago, in fact I was 2 month pregnant when Leire and I were travelling around Canary Islands for ‘Sea You Soon’, so that has been my last big project. I’m planning a trip to Alaska this August, wanting to release an online project mixing photography, video and travel. Also I’m working on a collaborative book based on little and ethereal experiences in life which hopefully will see the light next year.
What is the most most memorable thing you experienced on the road?
We’ve had all kind of experiences on the road, good and bad ones. But for us, the most simple things are the most satisfying, just like they are in the other parts of our life. I specifically remember being nineteen years old and being on a long curved road near the coast. It was early in the morning when you can be alone and in peace. The sun was touching my skin and I can remember the air, pure as never before. It’s a sensation I need to remember from time to time, it reminds me of the things that matter in life.
Why does travel play such an essential role in your life?
To us it is important to travel because we love meeting people with different backgrounds than ours. We learn from these people. Besides meeting other people, you will also meet yourself in ways you never did before. Your heart will get stronger, more humble and less fearful. You will do things you previously never thought you would be able to do. Your life will present itself with new challenges for you to overcome; challenges that make you grow. Also, getting away from the daily routine is a big reason for us to travel. There is no reason not to travel really.
How do you two girls like your eggs?
Leire: scrambled for me!
Mònica: French style omelette with a slice of bread and fresh tomato!
Interview by Vicky Schilperoort and Rebecca Rijsdijk