Julio López Saguar
Seeking Magazine: How and when did you get started with photography? How were your beginnings?
Julio López Saguar: My beginnings go back to the year 1973, I was 19 years old, eager to learn but without means, a proper camera or anybody that could give me some advise about it. The only solution was a course by correspondence (AFHA, photography is easy) so you can deduce that I’m 56 years old, totally self taught and that I wasted a lot of time on those first years. In 1975 I bought my first reflex, a Yashica TL Electro X, it really helped me on those first years and I still have it. That camera, a small room that doubled as an improvised laboratory and a load of enthusiasm where my first tools in this world.
SM: How does your work and experience as a producer of advertisement movies influences your photography work?
JLS: I would turn that statement around, my work as a photographer helps me a lot in the development of my professional activity. As a photographer I’m totally free, all my approaches does not have any obstacles, which I can’t say as a producer. You are always subjected by a brand, the pre-established parameters, the view of the art director, a creative, the editor or the first guy that passes by. My tests and investigations help me a lot with the framing, establishing a sequence or develop a specific photography for an ad.
SM: What kind of things inspire your work?
JLS: My photographic work is a reflection of what I live. Above all the urban world is what inspires me. Although I live in the suburbs of Madrid, I cross this city everyday from corner to corner in public transport, always aware of everything that moves around me, I watch, listen, look and sometimes photograph. I’m really interested in the city and its inhabitants, I have more fun in New York than in the beach.
SM: Talk us about your serie “Talking in Silence”, how it became?
JLS: Almost all my series start in an unconscious way, I like to photograph everything that is interesting to me without any notion to become a series on its own, but after some time I realize that something repeats itself with some frequency (like inside, under, behind) so from there I start seeking to create a collection. In the case of “Talking in Silence”, if you concentrate in the places, all of them are telling something, you only need to listen and transform it in images, is a very intimate process, only the scenery and you as a translator.
SM: In “Inside, Under, Behind” you show hidden objects and people which don’t let seeing their identity or meaning. You start a creative game with the viewer, do you think they talk about actual life?
JLS: In this Flickr set, I explain with more detail the meaning of this serie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlsaguar/sets/72157623014614220/
SM: Your work is mainly architecture and landscapes, how does this influence your way of shooting?
JLS: My work is mainly urban landscapes, architecture is part of those landscapes not a standalone subject. Also my interest is in the human factor as a member of this environment, sometimes the person, sometimes their traces. In the Madrid, New York and Marroc sets that I have in Flickr its easy to see this fact. The nature landscape work that I’m doing has more to do with my professional work (Gettyimages) than with my personal.
SM: What kind of cameras have you used during your career? How was the process of going from film to digital?
JLS: Like I said at the beginning, my first camera was a 35mm reflex, a Yashica TL Electro X. Later I went square format with another Yashica the Electro 24, then a Bronica, till I got my dream camera, a Hasselblad, in contrast with the goal of my fellow photographers at the time which was getting a Leica. It has been my best camera so far, for its quality and conception.
Then in digital, all Canon, the first in the year 2003, a G-3 then I had 300D and later models. The 1Ds was the first of real quality, now I have two bodies, a 1Ds mkII and a 5D mkII, fixed lenses 50mm 1.4 and a 28mm 1.8 and two zooms 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8.
Regarding the change process, I have gone through it in a natural way, I don’t try to compare both systems since they are very different, I just adapt myself to the new technologies. There is no reason to stay hooked on film because sooner or later it will disappear, the law of the market always wins and when the chemical process is not profitable anymore it will cease to exist. Of course this is not deterrent for being at least a bit nostalgic of the darkroom magic (i will never forget the sensation of the first time I saw the image appear fixed on paper).
In the end it will only be photography without surnames.
SM: Which photographers have influenced you?
JLS: Many, in the beginning, the biggest, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, then Walker Evans, Eugene Smith (such an incredible exhibition in the year 2008 at Photoespaña) Robert Frank, William Klein, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, Elliot Erwitt, later on Harry Grüyaert, Alex Web, Egglestone, Win Wenders, which is a movie director, but also a great photographer, Sthepen Shore, Martin Parr, (brilliant artist, also good people and funny) Edward Burtynsky, Philip Lorca di Corcia etc. And the Spanish Juan Manuel Castro Prieto (is incredible that he still doesn’t have the National Photography Award), Chema Madoz, Juan Manuel Díaz Burgos, Genín Andrada, Emilio Morenatti, etc, etc, etc
Something I’m proud of is my photography library, step by step is taking shape. Is healthy to often revise the work of many authors, you always discover something new.
SM: A piece of advise for the people that is starting in photography and follows your work…
JLS: What would have my generation give 25 or 30 years ago for being able to access the wealth of information that is available today: articles, images, tutorials, etc… The only advice I can give is to make use of all the media available to gain culture in the image world. You have to “read” many images, soak in them, in every photographer you discover something new and then unconsciously it arises in your work. Plagiarism doesn’t take you anywhere but influences do, even the best in the world have them.
SM: Your projects and desires for the future…
JLS: My projects are the same year by year, work and work, I have the same expectations, if no more, than when I started. The only thing that is not going along is my strength which is not the same of 30 years ago, that together with my job which is more demanding and stressing everyday make the hours I expend on the photography world (which are growing) really exhausting.
Talking about my desires, I would like that the never stopping stream of images the rise of digital photography has brought would motivate the new photographers to grow their knowledge and photography culture.
Julio López Saguar its web and Flickr.
Interview by Andrés Medina
Copyright © Julio López Saguar, All rights reserved. This photographs are not to be used as free stock.