To escape the mundane realities of life, conceptual photographer Kylli Sparre has created alternative worlds filled with movement, surrealism, and serenity.
The Meditative Process of Conceptual Work
Sparre, based in Tallinn, Estonia, began her artistic career with nature photography, then gradually moved on to conceptual work. Her photos have been shown and published around the world, and many awards have praised Sparre’s unique perspective.
“When I became more familiar with conceptual photography, I realized that it is far more flexible for me than any other way of expression, and it felt very personal to me, so it really drew me in,” Sparre tells PetaPixel.
“Through conceptual photography, I can express with less anxiety and less fear of being wrong,” she continues. “It gives me this strange balance of being in control and letting go of control at the same time.”
Even though the work is made for the public, it can feel like a deeply personal process, too. In a way, Sparre creates a place where she can feel and experience life differently from reality — “where everything is not so practical and logical.”
She also draws in elements from her background in dance, with movement playing an important role. Above all, Sparre’s work conveys peace.
It All Starts With the Drawing Board
Sparre’s creative ideas rarely, if ever, come from everyday life, which she believes “can sometimes feel incredibly materialistic.” Instead, she looks for ideas that feel like “little escapes.” The process is just as unconventional and artistic as her images which often look more like dreamy paintings than photographs.
“If an image really turns out well, it has that effect,” she explains “I can’t force it though; it just has to work somehow.”
On the more practical side, she often develops her ideas by sketching and drawing them out to help make sense of the concept and how it can be achieved. At the same time, she leaves plenty of room for trial and error.
“The biggest challenge for me is getting myself through the points where I tend to get stuck,” Sparre says. “I tend to lose hope sometimes when the image really does not seem to come alive at all. Sometimes when I get through that point, I might be really surprised and glad I didn’t give up.”
“But at other times, I wish I would’ve just left it,” she continues. “So when I get stuck, I can’t be sure if I’m stuck because it is really bad or I’m just stuck.”
Navigating this stage of the creative process is difficult for Sparre, but once she overcomes it, the results are worth it.
“Through my photography, I felt I can reach out to other people — even if I don’t know them — and make a real connection,” Sparre says. “Of course, not everyone responds to my work, but there are people who do. And I am grateful for these connections.”
Image credits: Photos by Kylli Sparre.