Simon Pais-Thomas was born and raised in Chile. He studied advertising for a year before deciding to change course and dedicate himself to photography. Having started independently, without experience, he considers himself a self-taught portraitist. However, creativity was always present in his life: as a child, he spent his free time drawing and illustrating.

Pais-Thomas initiated his career in photography with portraits, and after one of his images went viral, his name began to resonate around the world. Today, he focuses on fashion editorials and publicity, and his work has been published in various Chilean titles, such as Paula, Cosas, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel and Issue, amongst others.

He moved to Mexico for several years, where he worked with Grazia. Upon returning to Chile, the pandemic took him to the south of the country, to Puerto Varas, with his family. He spent his time there capturing the essence of the city with his camera, which he shares with us here in a series of intimate photographs.

Instagram: @simonpaisthomas

What brought you to Puerto Varas?

I arrived with my family and a moving truck at the height of the pandemic. The situation accelerated a process that was a long time coming, and we decided to leave the city abruptly and definitively. I’m the only one who has returned to Santiago.

What does Puerto Varas smell like?

Snow on the volcanoes, fresh air from the lake and humid forest.

What does it taste like?

Like German pastries.

Why visit Puerto Varas?

It’s unique in its mixture of Chilean and German origin. The city is developed at the foot of Lake Llanquihue, so it offers an incredible landscape. The hospitality of the locals, the delicious food, the cafeterias and the immediate contact with nature, the volcanoes, lakes and forests make Santiago feel like a state of mind.

If you had to choose your favorite thing about Puerto Varas, what would it be?

The immensity of nature. I like spending time in its forests, taking photos of the small things that are born from the ground I walk on.

What was your first impression of the city?

That there is love in it. Its inherited heritage is preserved. This quality maintains the respect and friendliness that exists at first sight among those who work and visit the city.

If Puerto Varas had a soundtrack, which song would be included?

Joga by Björk.

When you travel to Puerto Varas, you cannot miss _________.

Visiting the volcanoes. Three of the most active in Chile hug the city. The lakes, for a good reason, it’s called the region of the lakes. Seeing its colors and unique volcanic formations. The walks through the ancient larch forests.

A typical food or drink?

Nalcas stems are typical to the area. They remind me of the  jicama and fruit with chili and lime that they eat in Mexico.

Something everyone should know before visiting?

Get ready! Perhaps your life plans acquire another perspective when you see the immensity and fall in love with the south of Chile.

What is beauty to you?

To preserve the passage of time.

Do you prefer photographing people or landscapes?

I need a balance between both. I like people, but there are a lot of energies to deal with, while nature gives you pure energy.

Any advice for someone starting out in photography?

Try everything and marry your camera.

What is the most difficult thing to photograph?

The harsh reality.

Where would you like to photograph?

Iceland. In the margin of its 20 days of summer, though.