by Olimpia Bellan
Behind the lens of Oscar Munar
Entranced by the power of nature, photographer Oscar Munar strikes a balance between sophistication and the authentic. His uncompromising eye captures the intrinsic beauty of the female form and blurs the line between fashion and adventure.
How did you fall in love with photography?
I completely fell in love with photography while at university in Scotland, and the man who introduced me to this art was Manel Gomez – the brother I’d never had and my mentor. I was doing sports photography, taking photographs of boxers amongst other things, and being among other photographers encouraged me to do it professionally. I started learning how to express myself, it was the beginning of my journey exploring my creativity.
How has your art evolved since you started?
I’ve been told that at the beginning my work was eye-catching – it stood out but didn’t necessarily have a lot of depth. When I was living in Ibiza my art was colorful but to an extent, superficial. We need to stay in touch with our own reality and now I’m inspired by the people I’ve met in my travels, their traditions, their kindness, the way they are. People, places and nature are my true inspiration. The incredible places I’ve been – Bali, Thailand, Vietnam and many more – all have given me so much.
What inspires you in your art?
Landscapes and people. Nature itself is a beautiful gift and I think we should be more grateful for it. It’s the little details that make all the difference and I’m detail-obsessed. My photography changes depending on the subject or the way I want to shoot it. Sometimes I have an idea, I draw it all out on a mood board and when I start shooting, I change it, I use different lighting, and keep adjusting until it feels right. I need to sense the surroundings, be inside the scene to find the right composition, to create the right feeling. Photographers are making windows into another reality, they take the viewer on a journey inside the image itself.
How do you combine fashion and nature?
Firstly, I have to think what the place is telling me and what story I want to tell. I shoot in unique places with real stories and special significance to the people of that country, like the Sewu Temple in Java, Fossil Rock in Dubai, Raja Ampat in Indonesia. Shooting with sharks in Raja Ampat was incredible. Why shoot with sharks? Why shoot with water? Water is connection, balance – it’s everything. If you can connect with this element and all the life within it, you feel accepted. It’s a beautiful feeling and its emotional power is insane. I want to combine and express this power, this respect for nature. And I always want to show respect to the women in my images – this is important to me.
What do you capture in your portrait photography?
I try to capture the deep sense of the subject. Their expression, their energy. I often shoot older people because I see kindness and wisdom in their eyes. Their wrinkles are a testament to their hard life – with these beautiful souls it feels like I’m capturing a tree of life. There is a Japanese word ‘wabi-sabi’ that means ‘the beauty of imperfection’ and I love this concept.
What role colour plays in your photography?
It’s all about harmony. Landscapes, models, clothing in unison with a smooth palette of pastel tones. In the past I played with bright colours, I experimented with what worked and what didn’t and I found my identity. I still use bold colours, but in a very different way: they must give a deeper meaning to the shot.
What elements are always present in your images?
Women, nature and the bond between the two. Nature in harmony with the subject. The figure of a woman in the desert, inside the crater of a volcano, against the backdrop of an acid lake – these places can be scary but the power they ooze is incredible. You get so absorbed by the energy of the landscape, the sand dunes, the sunset, feeling the warm wind in your face. The bond between landscape and the subject, that moment of connection with nature is sometimes hard to portray. That is why finding location, model and dress is a real process for me. In my images all these elements must come together and when they do, it’s a beautiful feeling.