Adrian Vila

Editorial Adrian Vila’s Enchanting Black and White World

© Adrian Vila

“There’s much more out there than what we see at first glance. We just need to pause, and pay attention.” – Adrian Vila


─── by Josh Bright, July 3, 2023
  • Adrian Vila (aka AOWS) is a US-based photographer, whose captivating landscape imagery beautifully showcases the unique, enduring power of monochrome.

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Road and mountains


    Although he started late in the field of photography, Vila’s passion for the medium was ignited when he moved from Spain to the Pacific Northwest in his 30s and became enamored with the breathtaking natural landscapes.

    “I never really thought of photography as something I’d be interested in. But when I moved to the US, specifically Oregon, I found immense inspiration in those landscapes, leading me to embark on road trips and hikes, documenting them with my phone.”

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. A bird on a stone in a lake with a reflection
    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Abandoned factory


    With time, Vila acquired a camera and delved deeper into the medium, discovering the work of other emerging photographers on Instagram, as well as established figures like Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna, Joel Sternfeld, Trent Parke, and Sebastiao Salgado, all of whom greatly influenced his practice.

    However, the pivotal moment that made him truly fall in love with the medium, and which would shape his practice from thereon in, came with the realization that, rather than purely as a means of transcribing the landscapes in front of his eyes, photography could be a way of creating something truly original.

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. River and mountains


    “The camera was a window to a whole new world that had been hidden from me. I use three tools to create images of that vision: composition, black and white, and editing. They all serve the purpose of taking something from the real world and packaging it in a new way.”

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Train in the snow.
    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Stone house on the coast


    Sternfeld famously once said, “Black and white is abstract; color is not. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world”, and it is this very sensibility that drew Vila to the format.

    Monochrome photography allowed him to add a layer of abstraction to the ordinary. He felt the absence of color made the interplay of colors and textures more important. Through his editing process, he purposefully emphasizes certain elements in the frame, thus further departing from reality.

    Black and white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Town on a hill-shaped island.


    The impact of Vila’s artistic process is undeniably profound. As soon as you set eyes on his images, a sense of intrigue envelops you. The powerful black and white compositions exude a subtle, yet palpable sense of the surreal, as though fragments of strange dreams.

    He is particularly drawn to what he refers to as ‘in-between places’—locations where the natural and the man-made intersect. The abandoned structures, buildings, power lines, and fences juxtaposed against stunning landscapes, amplify the already enigmatic atmosphere within his work.

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Old mill style building
    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Trees in the mist


    Completely devoted to his craft, Vila lives a nomadic life, constantly seeking new frontiers to capture in his unique style. In addition to exploring his adopted homeland, he spends time in his native Spain, and last year, he embarked on an almost four-month-long road trip across Norway, mostly living in his car, and photographing throughout the day. He also has a trip to Scotland planned in the near future.


    “I’ve always tried to embrace photography as a lifestyle, something I do every day, not only on big trips a few times a year. But some of my favorite images were made locally. The pandemic helped solidify this approach. I had to cancel a trip but I gained a priceless perspective. When I’m photographing locally, I don’t really choose locations, I choose the weather. Wherever I see chances of rainy, foggy, or at the very least cloudy weather, there I will be.”

    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. A tree leaning over a road.
    Black & white landscape photography by Adrian Vila. Windmill


    This dedicated strategy has proven fruitful for Vila, allowing him to focus wholeheartedly on capturing images. His artistry, dexterity, and extraordinary eye for form, texture, and tone have positioned him as one of the most intriguing and promising talents in black and white photography today.

     

    All images © Adrian Vila