The British Journal of Photography (BJP), in partnership with DJI, announced two winners of their DJI Drone Photography Award: Spain-based photographer Markel Redondo and Germany-based photographer Tom Hegen. Markel submitted a self-assigned project, originally photographed in 2009-2012, entitled Sand Castles.
Sand Castles is a photo series capturing abandoned infrastructure in Spain that began after the financial crisis that commenced in 2008. Over the course of three years, Markel researched and photographed empty buildings, forgotten places, and construction plans indefinitely put on pause due to the property bubble crash and other economic calamities. Approaching each setting with a fine art aesthetic, Markel reflects on what these deserted structures convey about the country’s present state of being.
In Spain, they (the politicians) tell us that the financial crisis is over, that the country is recovering economically. But I feel that these abandoned areas have a story to tell by themselves, a story about our times and about Spain.
While this project wrapped in 2012, Markel has always intended to revisit and document how each location has evolved over the past six years. In that gap of time, Markel took drone courses to get his license. So when the BJP/DJI award was announced, it gave Markel the opportunity to both expand on his new aerial photography skills and pick up again with Sand Castles.
Perspective is everything, and Markel knows that there are certain limitations when trying to photograph the immensity of the abandoned infrastructure plans, and the national economic crisis they reflect, from the ground. Having already returned to some of the locations and observed no improvements, he’s eager to see what aerial images will reveal.
The idea is to revisit the places I photographed, look for some new ones and create a comprehensive documentation of these modern ruins that lay all around Spain.
With the award comes a new DJI Phantom Pro Drone and additional project support, including mentorship by Guardian photographer Graeme Robertson. Though Markel has only recently begun building his aerial portfolio, his experience as a photographer and passion for Sand Castles have prepared him to propel this series forward.
Markel plans to begin shooting this project in early 2018. In March, his work will be displayed in a major London gallery, but Markel doesn’t intend to stop there. He looks forward to seeing where else Sand Castles will take him and how the project will evolve over the coming year.
See more of Markel at markelredondo.com.