When she’s not busy studying biology at the University of Granada in southern Spain, 21-year-old Cristina Hoch captures strikingly powerful portraits of her friends and family. Achieving a unique high-contrast, low-saturation aesthetic with cool tones, Hoch photographs the beautiful interplay of natural light and shadow on her subject’s faces as they look into the distance or right at the camera. Often using her freckled siblings as the subjects of her most evocative shots, the self-taught photographer manages to produce portraits that are as expressive as they are visually dramatic.
The most distinguishing element of Hoch’s portraits is the focus on the eyes. Knowing that a person’s gaze can transmit the emotions she wants to convey, Hoch meticulously sharpens and illuminates the eyes and other distinctive facial features in post-processing. The result is a compellingly piercing stare that not only expresses deep emotions, but also seems to peer right into the viewer’s soul.
Hoch, who aspires to be a biologist one day, describes her style simply with the word “nature.” In her words, “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.” In an interview with Rewind Magazine, she elaborates, “I try to photograph people being natural. I don’t want them to pose as a fashion model would–I just want my models to enjoy nature–that’s what I try to catch.”