“My photography is poetic and intense. I choose scenarios with a certain complexity to them which reflect a chaotic, maybe even devastating, world. Places have a particular beauty. Cracked walls, debris, broken windows…”
Ana Villanueva. Argentine photographer, born in 1980 in Buenos Aires. She is an autodidact in photography, and has assisted in several workshop, for example with Argentine photographers Alberto Natan and Tony Valdez.
Interview with Ana Villanueva
Ana, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
Two years ago, I bought my first camera – a Canon G11, which I still use today. Also I have a Canon EOS Rebel analog, which I mainly use to shoot black and white. My experience with photography began as a desperate attempt to reflect my inner world. First I took pictures of objects, later I began to include people in my photos. Now I can’t take a picture anymore without a person in it actively participating in the composition.
Why did you become a photographer?
I had to find a way to express the complexity that I feel inside of me, something to free and express all my inner and most intimate feelings.
What does photography mean to you?
To me a photograph is an introspective process, a long journey to oneself.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Nicola Vinci and Nan Goldin. Their photos have an incredible intensity, I can spend hours contemplating their work. The light, the colors, the shapes. They speak to me, the move me in an inexpressible way. I stop being a spectator and put myself in an active position, almost like entering into the pictures.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
There are too many photographers. Try to get involved with something that really matters. And unless you need art to survive, the don’t do it. Nan Goldin
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working? How do you realize a shooting?
My photography is poetic and intense. I choose scenarios with a certain complexity to them which reflect a chaotic, maybe even devastating, world. Places have a particular beauty. Cracked walls, debris, broken windows – all that symbolizes a map of people’s lives: their frustrations, anxieties, fears – something that we try to escape from all the time.
But why escape? Photography allows me to stop, to contemplate and to meet myself. The imagination is endless, I try not to interfere with my emotions, I just let them flow. Thousands of images appear in my mind, I try to remember and then compose. It is almost intuitive. I wonder why, but there is a strong need to get that image that I’d previously seen in my head and imagination.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Personal style is developed aligning the mind’s gaze.
What do you think is more important: a perfect use of the camera or photographic idea that is creative and a good concept?
The camera is just a tool, the important part is the creative process. Leave imagination run free and dive into the infinite possibilities that photography offers you.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
You have to be passionate, persevering and faithful to your ideas and feelings.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
Be original, evocative, thoughtful.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From my own life and in the lives of others – and what they transmit or what I see in them. I am very perceptive to the feelings of the people around me.
How do you keep up to date with new developments in photography, to keep on learning new things?
All I can learn, at this time, has more to do with the way I look and observe life around me. I don’t give too much importance to the technical side of photography, just enough so that the pictures turn out alright. I buy photography books, I like to see photos printed on paper, they have a life. I go to exhibitions and talk with people I admire professionally.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Connect with yourself and let your imagination flow. Break down the preconceptions that condition us and keep us from being free in expressing our ideas.