How Akiko's Portrait Photography Brings a New Take on Self-Care

By Guest Author - 6 min read

Carla González’s portrait photography captures the unique nature of authentic beauty. In this guest feature, we get to know the creative techniques and photography processes behind her stunning self-portrait photography. Take a moment to discover an alternative visual narrative to self-love.

Portrait Photographer Carla González (known as Akiko to her followers) discovered photography at 15 years old. Since then, she has developed her artistic skills and creative direction independently. Carla’s self-portraits captures the subtle collision of beauty and macabre through unconventional visuals and experimental editing.

The Importance of Finding Self-confidence Through Photography.

Close-up portrait of young woman against black background

If I had to describe my photos with just three words, I’d say that they’re beautiful yet bizarre. One of my main inspirations is music. For instance, my favourite band are the Gorillaz and I’ve already made several self-portraits inspired by them.

I also find inspiration in classical painters such as Caravaggio, John Millais or Roberto Ferri. However, Christian Schloe is the painter I look up to the most because of his surreal and magical paintings. Whenever I don’t feel like creating any photos, I search for some of his works to get inspired.

Thoughtful female model in costume having ice cream cone against black background

I think that through my photos, I’ve learnt to understand myself. I’ve learnt to appreciate my body and embrace facial features I used to dislike. I encourage anyone with body issues to take a camera and start making self-portraits.

Most of the time, my self-portraits carry a lot of emotion as I tend to capture personal experiences through photography. In other cases, they’re made just for aesthetic purposes.

Sometimes I have to stop in the middle of the process and take a rest, cause some of my photos are too painful to develop. Sometimes I find that I’m not really emotionally prepared to create certain visuals.

“That’s why I believe that everyone that has a little bit of imagination can create almost anything.”

Portrait of female model wearing costume

98% of the times I don’t have any help, and so I have to resolve any issues I come across. If people could see how I take every photo, they’d be shocked. I don’t have any fancy equipment, just my camera, tripod, a big window and my creativity.


That’s why I believe that everyone that has a little bit of imagination can create almost anything. In my case, most of the props or supplies I use for my self-portraits cost less than 10€. Local stores or second hand shops are a really good source for interesting materials. I always tell people that they shouldn’t get disheartened for not having all the resources they could have. Everyone can create amazing pieces of they put their souls into it.

Digital composite image of woman standing against red wall

“My photography has helped me to improve my self-esteem and now I’m able to say that I’m in love with myself.”

I’ve always used photography as a way to evade from hostility surrounding me. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression, and since I started taking my self-portraits, my mental unrest has decreased. Most of my first works reflected sadness and pain. Now, almost seven years later, I don’t reflect that side of myself as much as I used to.

In my most recent photos I’ve been experimenting with the creation of characters that don’t have anything to do with me. It’s true that sadness is still a recurring theme in my photos, but I believe I’ve grown as an artist by introducing other points of view and characters.

Close-up portrait of beautiful young model wearing cap

My photography has helped me to improve my self-esteem and now I’m able to say that I’m in love with myself. I think that self-love is extremely important. You’re going to deal with yourself for the rest of your life, it would be great if you can learn to love yourself. I know this is not easy, it takes time, but you can start to see things under a different perspective.

I’m a really emotional person, so feelings come out easily for me. I don’t like to fake my feelings while taking a photograph, so all that you see in them is real. I’ve mentioned that I create characters for my self-portraits but everything is real. I consider myself a kind of actress (I might not be the best, but I can interpret a role for myself and my photos).

Close-up portrait of young woman covering eye against black background

I always like to share my work online because of the feedback I usually get. It’s interesting to get to know other points of view besides my own interpretation. I’ve never felt vulnerable but I’d say that uploading my content does make me feel more empowered. Not everyone has the courage to share his/her emotions with a wide audience.

“What is important is the person who takes the photo.”


I do wish I had more female role models for my artwork. At the time I started to take photos, it seemed like female photography was just starting. However, during that years I discovered a Spanish self-portrait artist about my age that was doing amazing. She always said that your photography equipment is not important, and that what is important is the person who takes the photo. That’s why I always tell people not to worry about their camera or lenses, but on their creative skills.


Sad Clown is an image I will never forget. Although I don’t usually have help, on this occasion, my mother helped me with the rainbow effect on my face. It feels great to have someone who appreciates and encourages you to develop your artistic skills. I’ve always been very grateful to my parents, especially my mother. She’s the biggest fan of my photos and it’s shows every time she helps me with the materials or anything I may need.

Portrait of young woman with long hair by fruits

Another image that I particularly like is Lilium. It brings me really good memories of my year abroad in Northern Ireland. I was experiencing a time when I felt particularly uninspired, in which I got over thanks to a special person. That week I created three self portraits because I felt really inspired and creative. Moreover, I find “Lilium.” one of my most aesthetically striking pictures. Simply put, I really like how the composition turned out.


Make sure you follow along on Carla’s EyeEm Profile and her Instagram account to see more conceptualized self-portraits.

Inspired by Carla’s visual style? Purchase his 5 custom built presets, featured alongside 9 other EyeEm creators, for $24.99 here. EyeEm Community members get an extra 25% off with the discount code EYEEM-CREATORS.