Sources of inspiration

 Photo: Rubén Acosta

Photo: Rubén Acosta

There's been phases in my life where I've lost myself, where I've taken wrong decisions, where I've been surrounded by people that have sucked my energy... 

This is not the case right now. I feel like I'm doing what's correct in many different aspects of my life. Meeting good and creative friends has definitely helped me reach this point. One of these friends is Rubén Acosta, a real source of inspiration. 

Rubén, who's based in Lanzarote, is not only an excellent art photographer, he is also extremely good in wedding and lifestyle photography and even runs a book publishing company. Not to mention that he produces his own wine with relatives and grows delicious vegetables and fruits at home, among other personal projects.

Rubén has taught me that life is how you want it to be. It's hard work, but you simply have to be focused and believe in yourself. Thank you Rubén!

Last Times vs First Times

I’m on an airplane right now on my way to Berlin after having spent longer than usual in Gran Canaria.

A thought has often gone through my head these last few days; “This is the last time I do this before living”. The last time I meet my mother, the last time I hear the sea, the last time I go shooting on my photo series about agaves…

This is obviously a pretty melancholic thought and since I’m trying to stay away from sadness whenever possible, I decided I had to look for an optimistic approach. And I did find it!

There are so many “first times” that are to happen as I arrive to Berlin. The first time I enter my nice flat, the first time I meet this or that friend, the first time I lay by the canal… And the best of it; whereas “last times” are limited, “first times" are not! Soon I’ll be doing things in that amazing city which I’ve never done before! :)

I’m really willing to start with all the “first times” I have ahead. 

Light and shade

In photography everything is based on light. The word itself literally means "to draw with light". But what would be the light without the shade?

I find myself portraying shadows very often lately. They are so meaningful. Through them we identify objects, persons, animals... Sometimes shades are so real that we think we can grab the objects that generate them. But no. They are only projections. The core, the authentic element, the essence remains unreachable.

A similar thing happens to us when we don't allow our feelings to fly. Most of us put a big effort on projecting an image of ourselves, but don't let others see our essence.

Fear? Insecurity? Ego? Who cares... It's just so hard to find authenticity. 

Why do I photograph

As I mentioned not too long ago, I was selected to present my work in PhotoEspaña. Although it all went very good (many of the curators who saw my work liked it, I received some proposals to exhibit, met many nice people, saw some good exhibitions...), I ended up with a weird feeling of emptiness. 

I love photography, it gives sense to my life, but, and especially after this visit to Madrid, I'm starting to doubt if I want to play the art-market-game... 

I've been asking myself recently, why do I photograph? It's obviously cool to exhibit your work and get feedback (to close the circle, as I like to call it). It's also cool to sell your work and get some money back (even though it never covers the big effort that a well done work implies). But to be honest, neither exhibiting nor selling is what moves me to grab the camera and take photos. 

I've got to the conclusion that there are two main reasons for me to photograph.

First, to be more aware of my surroundings. Through photography I'm able to see things I wouldn't if I didn't have a trained eye. There's so much beauty around us!

Second, to get to understand myself better. I often take pictures without knowing why I choose the motifs I choose. Only when reviewing my work calmly I'm able to recognise my obsessions, my fears, my thoughts... It's like a kind of a therapy.

I think I'm going to spend some time simply focusing myself in my photography and leaving aside the "career factor". Maybe in the future, but not now. I have many ideas to develop and time is limited...

Edith and I

I finished my latest photography course here in Gran Canaria about a month ago. My idea was to travel a bit before going back to Berlin, but something magical happened and I decided to change my plans; I entered the house of my grandmother Edith where I hadn't been for about twenty years. Who knows why...

My aunt Margaret, the present owner of the place, has kept everything the way it was as my grandma was still alive. She died 18 years ago. It was such an amazing experience. Memories  banged my head! Objects, textures, smells... everything'd send me back to another time of my life. I realised right away I had to work on a photo series on the theme.

I've moved into the house. I spend the weeks seeing how the light changes during the day, discovering little treasures hidden in drawers, recalling experiences I've lived here... This is actually helping me to understand myself better. The more I find out about my grandparents, the more I recognise myself in them. I wonder where all this is going to take me... 

A letter to a nephew

Sergio Larraín

This is not a personal thought, but it's so good, that it needs to be shared. 

Sergio Larraín was an excellent chilean photographer who died a couple of years ago. This member of Magnum sent, back in 1982, a letter to a nephew of his who was, in that time, trying to find his way in the world of photography. The text is worth a read. Sorry, but it's in spanish. :/ Thank you Arianna for resending it to me!

Lo primero de todo es tener una máquina que a uno le guste, la que más le guste a uno, porque se trata de estar contento con el cuerpo, con lo que uno tiene en las manos y el instrumento es clave para el que hace un oficio, y que sea el mínimo, lo indispensable y nada más. Segundo, tener una ampliadora a su gusto, la más rica y simple posible (en 35 mm. la más chica que fabrica LEITZ es la mejor, te dura para toda la vida).

El juego es partir a la aventura, como un velero, soltar velas. Ir a Valparaiso, o a Chiloé, por las calles todo el día, vagar y vagar por partes desconocidas, y sentarse cuando uno está cansado bajo un árbol, comprar un plátano o unos panes y así tomar un tren, ir a una parte que a uno le tinque, y mirar, dibujar también, y mirar. Salirse del mundo conocido, entrar en lo que nunca has visto, DEJARSE LLEVAR por el gusto, mucho ir de una parte a otra, por donde te vaya tincando. De a poco vas encontrando cosas y te van viniendo imágenes, como apariciones las tomas.

Luego que has vuelto a la casa, revelas, copias y empiezas a mirar lo que has pescado, todos los peces, y los pones con su scotch al muro, los copias en hojitas tamaño postal y los miras. Después empiezas a jugar con las L, a buscar cortes, a encuadrar, y vas aprendiendo composición, geometría. Van encuadrando perfecto con las L y amplias lo que has encuadrado y lo dejas en la pared. Así vas mirando, para ir viendo. Cuando se te hace seguro que una foto es mala, al canasto al tiro. La mejor las subes un poco más alto en la pared, al final guardas las buenas y nada más (guardar lo mediocre te estanca en lo mediocre). En el tope nada más lo que se guarda, todo lo demás se bota, porque uno carga en la psiquis todo lo que retiene.

Luego haces gimnasia, te entretienes en otras cosas y no te preocupas más. Empiezas a mirar el trabajo de otros fotógrafos y a buscar lo bueno en todo lo que encuentres: libros, revistas, etc. y sacas lo mejor, y si puedes recortar, sacas lo bueno y lo vas pegando en la pared al lado de lo tuyo, y si no puedes recortar, abres el libro o las revistas en las páginas de las cosas buenas y lo dejas abierto en exposición. Luego lo dejas semanas, meses, mientras te dé, uno se demora mucho en ver, pero poco a poco se te va entregando el secreto y vas viendo lo que es bueno y la profundidad de cada cosa.

Sigues viviendo tranquilo, dibujas un poco, sales a pasear y nunca fuerces la salida a tomar fotos, por que se pierde la poesía, la vida que ello tiene se enferma, es como forzar el amor o la amistad, no se puede. Cuando te vuelva a nacer, puede partir en otro viaje, otro vagabundeo: a Puerto Aguirre, puedes bajar el Baker a caballo hasta los ventisqueros desde Aysén; Valparaiso siempre es una maravilla, es perderse en la magia, perderse unos días dándose vueltas por los cerros y calles y durmiendo en el saco de dormir en algún lado en la noche, y muy metido en la realidad, como nadando bajo el agua, que nada te distrae, nada convencional. Te dejas llevar por las alpargatas lentito, como si estuvieras curado por el gusto de mirar, canturreando, y lo que vaya apareciendo lo vas fotografiando ya con más cuidado, algo has aprendido a componer y recortar, ya lo haces con la máquina, y así se sigue, se llena de peces la carreta y vuelves a casa. Aprendes foco, diafragma, primer plano, saturación, velocidad, etc. aprendes a jugar con la máquina y sus posibilidades, y vas juntando poesía (lo tuyo y lo de otros), toma todo lo bueno que encuentres, bueno de los otros. Hazte una colección de cosas óptimas, un museito en una carpeta.

Sigue lo que es tu gusto y nada más. No le creas más que a tu gusto, tu eres la vida y la vida es la que se escoge. Lo que no te guste a ti, no lo veas, no sirve. Tu eres el único criterio, pero ve de todos los demás. Vas aprendiendo, cuando tengas una foto realmente buena, las amplias, haces una pequeña exposición o un librito, lo mandas a empastar y con eso vas estableciendo un piso, al mostrarla te ubicas de lo que son, según lo veas frente a los demás, ahí lo sientes. Hacer una exposición es dar algo, como dar de comer, es bueno para los demás que se les muestre algo hecho con trabajo y gusto. No es lucirse uno, hace bien, es sano para todos y a ti te hace bien porque te va chequeando.

Bueno, con esto tienes para comenzar. Es mucho vagabundeo, estar sentado debajo de un árbol en cualquier parte. Es un andar solo por el universo. Uno nuevamente empieza a mirar, el mundo convencional te pone un biombo, hay que salir de él durante el período de fotografía.

Where are all the chewing gums gone?

In the streets of Berlin you step into a chewing gum vending machine every 50 meters. I’ve always wondered why are there so many. Do berliners have a particularly bad breath? Not that I’ve noticed. Well, not more than in any other place I know… Anyway, the thing is that this town is packed with them. 

But I’ve noticed that for some reason, for quite some weeks now, they are all empty. Where are all the chewing gums gone? Have they been kidnapped? Have they emigrated to a warmer country? Is there some kind of mafia buying them all to produce a chewing gum supplying crisis and then resell them at a way higher price? 

I just can’t find an explanation, but I’m starting to worry…  

One of those friends

I've been recently asked if I don't miss the sea. And you know what? To be honest, I don't. 

Even though I was raised in Gran Canaria and have spent months of my life on the beach, I really don't feel that urge to swim in the sea or even have it in front of me. 

If you live on an island, the sea can be seen as way to connect with the rest of the world or as a wall that doesn't let you out. I have always seen it the second way. 

But even so, it's not that I hate it. I actually enjoy whenever I see it again. It's like meeting one of those friends who you haven't met in years but when you do, it seems as if nothing had change. You don‘t even have to say a word to make him or her understand how you are doing.  

Photography, windows and mirrors

I see photography as a window through which we observe what surround us. Always curious, sensitive, alert. It is the search of the hidden meanings in the apparently obvious.

Photography is also a mirror. Thank to our images we discover ourselves. We understand who we are; what our obsessions are, which matters worry us. It is a way to put things in order in our minds.

But this observation and deduction process does not end until someone sees our work. Occasionally, at that point, the viewer might find him or herself facing his or her own concerns. Photography then derives into a dialog. The circle then closes.

Clear thinking

A couple of years ago I decided I had to put more effort on my personal photographic work. I had been too focused on professional commissions and had forgotten about my deeper creative side. 

All I knew is I wanted to focus on personal projects, but I had no clue what kind of project to do. Photography has a wide range of thematic fields, not to mention the amount of different possible approaches to tell what you have in mind. 

I've been trying different things along the years, but I haven't really felt comfortable with any of them; documentary photography, photo journalism, street photography, travel photography... For different reasons, none of them has really fulfilled me. 

I would feel kind of lost, but never lost hope. I knew it was a process I had to go through and as long as I would keep the illusion, it was only a matter of time. 

I've spent most of the last weeks going through the photos I've done in the last years, and although I might have not liked the results when I took them, when seeing them as a whole, it's simply amazing the connections I find between them. I see myself reflected in my work!

I feel like everything makes sense now. I know what I want to talk about now and how I want to tell it. The work starts now though, but that's ok. I'm not afraid. Everything is clear to me now! 

I missed a plane to Mexico some weeks ago. I was sure there had to be a "mystical" reason for it. Now I know this was the reason. Having had this time for myself has helped me find the answers to many of the questions I've had in my mind for long.

Now I can think clear. No more blurriness. At least for some time...