Daniel Almazán Klinckwort
Daniel Almazán Klinckwort is a travel and documentary photographer based in Mexico City. His work has been featured in Vogue, i-D Magazine, Les Others Magazine, Freunde von Freunden and Riposte Magazine. He is also the co-founder of an inspiring project called ‘Aire Libre'.
For Daniel, photography is about reconnection and spontaneity. It gives him the chance to explore a world that would have otherwise been inaccessible. As a travel photographer, he is able to engage with a variety of amazing people and places, and these stories he brings back to his viewers.
Daniel tells Chroma- it is important to let go with photography, to let intuition lead the way. His images are full of fluidity, colour and movement. They capture fleeting moments and frozen actions. This idea of freedom is important to all aspects of his work. He is the co-founder of Aire Libre, a project that creates running trails through the natural landscapes of Mexico. These trails aim to reconnect people to indigenous cultures and nearly forgotten traditions. Running, Daniel believes, is a way to bring you back to your roots.
Daniel worries that we have separated ourselves too much from nature, he tells us, ‘For the sake of comfort, we have forgotten we are also animals.’
Through his projects and photographs, Daniel aims to inspire. He wants us to break out from our daily routines and become more active.
The majority of the images featured below were taken in Cuba, a country whose traditions might also start fading.
Chroma talks to Daniel Klinckwort about Movement, Nature and Aire Libre
Why do you take photographs?
The world intrigues me and photography provides me with a window into all kinds of interesting lives, places and experiences. It gives me the tools to navigate these realities, learn about them and select the pieces that are relevant to me. There is an element of exploration and discovery in photography that intrigues me.
Your images magically capture suspended action or fleeting moments. How important is spontaneity and movement to your photography?
This approach is pretty new, and I think it is because I have recently let go of thinking while photographing. Currently, I limit my thinking to the planning phase of a project and let randomness and spontaneity lead the way while shooting.
I think everyone views the world in a unique way. So the best thing for me to do, while trying to define my personal style, is to simply let go and let my eyes and reactions lead the way.
The presence of movement has grown in my work, and when I edit and select, I tend to choose images that seem to say more than what’s pictured. These moments offer a lot of tension and a significant potential for interpretation.
Elliott Erwitt stated, ‘To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.’ Do you agree that photography enables the viewer to see things they may have been unable to see before?
Absolutely. Photographs are a way to connect with realities that are separate from one´s own. It is a way to access worlds that would have otherwise been inaccessible. Of course, this applies not only to the viewer but also to the artist.
The camera provides access to cultures and places that are often out of reach to the general public. It is very satisfying for me to be able to access these places and bring back parts of it, so the public can get to know it and enjoy!
What is also great, is the way in which photographs offer not only a look into other realities but also into the photographer's mind and vision. Photographs are an interpretation of the photographer's reality.
Do you agree that different colours can spark different emotions? Do you feel that colour can affect the mood of your photography, if so in what way? For example, the bright reds and pinks of your Cuban images.
Sure! Colour plays a defining role in photography, from deciding whether the picture works to the way in which it would be received and interpreted by the viewer.
As for my work, I guess I will have to go back to talking about spontaneity… A colour is a big part of my photography, but it happens very naturally. I think the colour first attracts me to a scene; then I’ll look at everything else. However, if the colour isn't right, the scene won't work.
It also plays a huge role in my editing process. But I tend to leave it to intuition rather than to thought. Colour works on a very subconscious level, so I think it is important for it to remain like that during the creative process. You should let colour talk to you, rather than actively looking for it and its meaning.
Sometimes things just work together, and I think humans have a natural attraction to certain combinations and beautiful tonalities. So whenever I’m out photographing, I just let that subconscious feeling lead the way. Hopefully, by doing it this way, the mood in my photography will be set by the scene or the subject itself, and I will just be in the background.
Describe a time where travel changed you. Can you tell us any inspiring stories about the people you’ve met on your travels?
The beauty of travel is that it always changes you in some way. It gives you access to other ways of living and has the potential to alter your perspective profoundly- at least if you travel with a purpose.
The world is full of amazing people, who lead incredible lives- some of whom I’ve had the fortune to meet!
One of the most inspiring characters I've met was Francisco Barnett, also known as “El Chapito”. Barnett is the medicine man of the Seri Tribe. They inhabit the coastline along the Tiburón Island in the Sonoran Desert. I visited this area with the Aire Libre team, during our first project.
Currently, he is one of the only people to carry and preserve the wisdom of a tribal culture. It was passed onto him by his elders, and it is now on the brink of extinction.
El Chapito is the sort of person who can transform you when you just look into his eyes. A simple visit put into perspective the excessive ways in which we currently carry out our modern lives. Being there, with him, in his house, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by his family, emphasised our important connection to nature, parallel to the ridiculousness of big city life and material possessions.
Do you find that you can take the aesthetic intentions of your personal projects into your commercial photography? Or do you ever feel creatively stunted?
There are times where a client chooses a photographer exclusively for their personal style, and these situations are usually the most rewarding and the most fun.
However, different clients ask for different things, and particularly at the beginning, it's hard to translate one's vision into commercial work.
I usually like to keep these two areas separate. My commercial work is suited to my client's needs, and I have no problem with that, as long as I can maintain a balance and stay focused on my vision in personal projects. These, I hope will be what define me most as an artist.
Commercial work can be creatively limiting, but there’s always room for some creative input, especially as a photographer. I guess that as long as you are flexible and open, you will almost always have something unique to offer and probably learn something new.
You are a co-founder of a truly inspiring and unique project: Aire Libre, can you tell us a little bit more about this project? What were the motivations behind its creation and your role etc.?
Aire Libre is a project that aims to rebuild the bridge between humans, nature, ancient wisdom and spirituality.
By creating running trails in the natural landscapes that connect us to indigenous cultures around Mexico, and by documenting these experiences, we aim to act as an amplifier for the traditions that still exist in these places. We aim to inspire our viewers to leave the city and rediscover what awaits them in nature.
Mexico is a country with an incredible history and natural richness, but people in the cities usually ignore this, and sadly a lot of it is getting lost and forgotten.
This said I guess that the primary motivation for this project is to put into perspective the way we are living our lives nowadays. By creating content that shows these incredible places, people and experiences, existing only a couple of hours away from our screens, we hope to inspire people to break out of their routines. Inspire them to leave their comfort zone and become more active, meaningful and healthy.
Why did you choose running over, say- cycling, or any other form of exercise?
There’s an incredible amount of freedom in running, and this is one of the key elements of the project. As your body is the only thing you need, running allows you to go wherever you want.
It is a very natural way for us to reach and explore remote places, which would otherwise be inaccessible.
It is also the most natural and primitive way to move around, and we believe it has the power to reconnect us to our roots and natural instincts. Running connects you with nature like nothing else, you are set on its frequency and able to flow freely.
Finally, do you feel humanity has wrongly separated itself from its roots: animals and nature?
We are surrounded by information that, for the benefit of the current economic system, keeps us ignorant about issues critical to the conservation of our planet and life in general.
We are currently living separate from nature, as part of a system that feeds on the destructive and excessive use of natural resources. It deprives them of their best qualities and supplies us with the worst. This way we have been degrading our health as well as the planets. For the sake of comfort, we have forgotten we are also animals. We have turned our backs against the source of life on earth, seeking ways to keep dominating it and using it to our advantage.
words: Emma Phillips