Ashley: Hi Cristóbal! It’s a pleasure to have a chance to chat with you today.
Bob: Hi Cristóbal! Yes, thanks so much for joining us. So, tell us, how did you get started with photography and how did it get you where you are today?
Cristóbal: Hello Bob and Ashley. I’ll tell you, the culprit of my passion for photography is my wife Luisa Reche, a great documentary photographer. From her I learned to tell stories in photography, to conceptualize ideas and to understand that quality and technique are often not so important, but rather the sequence of photographs that one creates, which comes together to form a solid body of work and a story that holds the attention of the spectator. Before dedicating myself in a professional way to photography, I worked for more than 20 years in the graphic-advertising sector as an advertising creative in different advertising agencies in Almería (Spain). These two ingredients over the past few years have cooked up my own photographic style, resulting in remarkable international recognition. I enjoy doing photography – maybe that’s the secret.
Bob: One thing that attracts me to your images is their minimalist style. Tell us about your motive when photographing scenes like that.
Cristóbal: Images have always been the raw material with which I worked in the field of graphic design and creative direction of advertising campaigns. This, in photography, has led me to cultivate a type of photography – detailed, minimalist and at the same time conceptual – in the search for symbolic connections between reality and the environment in which I live.
Bob: And how do you do it? How do you find simple but powerful images in a world full of distractions and visual noise?
Ashley: Yes, I’m interested to know how you isolate your images – it seems to me that a big part of it is your eye for details.
Cristóbal:The streets are a diamond in the rough that photographers have to polish. I am passionate about the search for the unexpected, the details, turning moments of our daily reality into moments that are important and unique. I photograph with my eyes the reality and the stories I want to tell, then I shoot.
Ashley: Wow, so well said. You know, while we’re on the topic, I loved his series “illusions.” I feel that “Cosmos” could enter that category as well. How do you find or how do you learn to see images that seem to be from another world? They are fascinating.
Cristóbal: Thank you very much Ashley! If there is a phrase that defines my attitude towards the world and in photography, it is that of the famous French poet Paul Éluard: “There are other worlds, but they are in this one”.
I think there are as many parallel realities as there are different perspectives. “Illusions” is a project that I like especially because it takes the viewer to a different plane, oneiric and unknown, a place that makes one doubt the true prism of reality that we observe. The “Cosmos” project is a consequence of my conceptual evolution as a photographer, the lack of environmental awareness and the passion I have for science fiction. I declare myself a fan of Isaac Asimov.
By not limiting ourselves in photography, we allow ourselves to capture abstractions of reality, which will tell us fantastic stories from other worlds, beyond where our gaze reaches.
Bob: That probably explains why you see things that most of us would not even notice. But would you say it is a natural ability you have? Or did you train yourself to see these scenes?
Cristóbal: You see Bob, I think there is a very strong cultural component, I love Dalí’s surrealism, I love the study of my own photography. Hidden in our photos, is the real message that we want to communicate to the world. It is a question of finding that message, listening to it and enhancing it. I am also by nature an observer.
Bob: What advice would you give to street photographers who want to create simpler images that are still impressive?
Cristóbal: I recommend that you take risks in photography, that you forget all the rules, that you look at your work closely to find your unique language and style.
Bob: Great advice. I wonder, you have received many awards recently. Which one do you value the most and why?
Cristóbal: I would say the Chromatic Awards 2018 (USA) Super PAM!: Honorable Mention Award in the category: Street/Professional and being published in the World Street Photography 5 (WSP5) Book, since it represents the best of the International Street Photography of the year 2017. For this contest, a total of 20,777 photographs of 77 photographers were presented. Finally, 19 international curators selected for the book 212 magnificent photos of 144 photographers from 35 countries, among which are 2 of my photographs: “Black Angel” and “Shower.”
These two awards especially were very exciting for me because I consider myself a Street Phototgrapher and to have this kind of recognition of my work and to be awarded at this international level has been an honor.
Ashley: Definitely, congratulations on both. While we’re on this topic, why do you think it’s important that street photographers try to publish their images? And what would you say is the benefit of participating in competitions?
Cristóbal: I think competitions are good because they make the photographer leave his comfort zone and show the world his work. I know great photographers who are afraid of criticism or failure. You have to go down to hell to touch heaven, as they say. At the end of the day, it is about improving each shot.
Ashley: It seems that you have been shooting on the street for a long time. What is your most memorable experience when shooting scenes on the street?
Cristóbal: Yes, I’ve been doing street photography for about 3 years. There is one photograph taken on the street that I baptized as, “El Hombre Cono” or, in English, “The Cone Man”. The curious thing for me about this image is how I built it in my mind before it happened. That made it memorable.
Normally I take pictures without much foresight but in this case, I was walking down the street and about 60 meters away I saw a series of orange cones used cars to park. When I saw them, all of a sudden I saw the photograph, I knew that I had to go to the base of one of the cones, sit behind it and wait for someone to pass. The composition was perfect – the head of a man and the body of the cone. Pure Surrealism with a touch of humor. Currently it can be seen at the Academy of Fine Arts of Calcutta (India) in permanent exhibition.
Ashley: Great story.
Bob: Now let’s talk about some of your images. I love the photo “Playa del Zapillo” in the gallery “La Almería Azul.”
Cristóbal: Ah, yes. I walk regularly along the seafront of Almería and it is a real pleasure to look at Zapillo Beach and the sea and to enjoy the light of the city. In this case, I was looking for a well though out photo with the intention of confusing the viewer. It was about superimposing distant and nearby layers. In the photograph you can see the part of a shower arm of the beach integrated at the height of the waterline of the sea (one layer) and two men in the bottom under the shower head. You might think that the image is a dam in the sea due to its geometric shape or anything else for that matter. For me, this is the magic of photography, playing with the perception of the eye, deceiving it subtly to find new languages and meanings.
Ashley: I feel that all your images capture the attention of the observers because for a second they make you say – what exactly am I seeing? That is the case in your image “The Protest.”
Bob: Yes, you got that at the perfect time. And very good observational eye!
Ashley: Truly! Since the shadow of man is an integral part of the image, I wonder if we owe that photo to your quick reflexes? Or did you imagine the scene from before and wait for the subject? And the title – at the moment you took the image, did it already seem like a protest or was it after seeing the image already created that you noticed?
Cristóbal: Well, for example, in the image, “Black Man” I saw the old man from the back, and I was struck by his stooped shape. As I approached him, I saw how the projected shadow literally held his crutch. It seemed to have a life of its own. Perplexed, I shot! It was a fascinating moment.
In the case of the image “The Protest,” I thought up the name after the fact. I found it very appropriate. A shadow protested while its owner went to work, haha.
Ashley: Cristóbal, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and our readers. Tell us, what projects are you currently working on and where can people find more of your work?
Cristóbal: My latest project is called “Cosmos,” it’s a series of conceptual and futuristic photographs that build a space trip in the search for exoplanets in which we are trying to make humanity aware of the urgent need to take care of our planet earth so as not to destroy ourselves as a species.
Bob: Thanks Cristóbal! We wish you the best in all your future endeavors.