Contrast and Colour: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Cristina Hoch

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Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Cristina Hoch is a young photographer from the south of Spain. Her portraits have a powerful, edgy quality. She uses a stylised, high-contrast processing technique that emphasises features such as eyes and freckles. Her young subjects stare back at the photographer, sometimes in empathy, at times in defiance.

In her own words:

My style is described by a single word: Nature. What I want to show through my photographs is the hidden beauty in the rivers, in the forests, in a glance, in the sea, in the empty and open spaces, in freckles, in simple details that my camera can’t miss; and I try to transmit this, mostly, through portraiture.

You can see Cristina’s work on her blog and her Flickr photostream.

The Interview

How long has photography been a hobby of yours and what motivated you to get started?

I think it began 4 years ago and it was just for fun. I were just another teenager with a camera in my hands. I took photographs of the typical, you know, pictures of your feet, the clouds, the sea…all that.

How would you describe yourself and your character? This may be bit of a deep question, but how does your personality affect the way you take photos?

Well, this is a difficult question, but the parts of my person that influences more on my photography are basically two: I love being alone or with one or two people who I really know. I don’t like crowds and I’m totally in love with nature. In my photography I prefer quiet and open places in nature like forest, mountains, rivers, or the sea.

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

What camera equipment do you use to create your portraits? And out of all your lenses, which is your favourite for portraits and why?

My camera is a Nikon D3000, and I have two lenses: Nikkor 18-55mm and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. My favourite lens is the 50mm because it allows me to focus the attention on the subject more than on what’s behind.

I can see that you use natural light for most, if not all of your photos. What is the appeal of natural light for you?

With natural light, in my opinion, shadows and lights are more beautiful and softer than with flash. I don’t like flash light or artificial light; this is, in my opinion, too hard for photographs.

You live near the city of Granada in the south of Spain. How would you describe the quality of the natural light there? How do you deal with the harshness of the sun during the day?

Light is beautiful and we have a lot of it, maybe too much! To create a good photograph I can’t go out in the midday, when we have the hardest hours of sunlight.

The best time in the day to have a shoot is at sunset or at sunrise, when the light is low. Sometimes I try to have my photo shoots on cloudy days.

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Most of your portraits are taken outside. How does the environment you live in affect your approach to photography?

I’m lucky to live in a small town, close to the countryside, the forest and the mountains. Nature is wonderful and I want to show the hidden beauty in it and it’s through photography how I try to do this.

Who inspires you? Who are your three favourite photographers, and why?

Well, I don’t really have people in whom I inspire, but I get inspired with a lot of another things like a view, a film, a song or a quote. I love independent films (like ‘Into the Wild’) and alternative music (like ‘Radiohead’).

My three favourite photographers… difficult! I can say Nirrimi Firebrace, Julia Trotti and Fanny Latour Lambert. I really adore their photography.

What is your approach to finding models? I guess most of the people in your photos are people you know – they seem to be about the same age as you. Does that help you take photos? How important is the relationship you have with your models in your creative process?

Some of my models are just part of my family and friends, and that’s good because I have the confidence to make them pose for me as I want and all that. And also I found new models with friends in common or just with social media, and I had some really good experiences, having not only a good time but making new friends.

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

What’s your approach to post-processing? I can see you like high contrast images. Which software do you use?

Post-processing is an important step on my photography. In my portraits, I try to enhance special details like freckles (if the model has them), cheekbones or eyes, by sharpening and illuminating them. And well, I overexpose and underexpose different areas depending on the shadows I want to create.

I love green and blue tones and I use a layer of colour balance to get them. I use curves a lot, I love high contrast and low saturation.

Finally, what are the three most important lessons you have learned about portrait photography so far?

1. It can always be a good moment to have a perfect portrait, with the perfect gust of wind, the perfect ray of light or the perfect moss in the land so carry your camera with you.

2. Creating shadows makes your photographs refreshing.

3. Eyes are essential, don’t close your eyes.


You can see Cristina’s work on her blog and her Flickr photostream. Click here for a list of other places her work has appeared (including interviews, some in Spanish).

Photo Gallery

Here are some more portraits by Cristina Hoch:

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

Natural light portrait by Cristina Hoch

All photos Copyright © Cristina Hoch. Please contact the photographer for permission to use in any way.

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