“What I’m looking for in my projects is to establish a narrative with photographs, to tell a story. At the beginning of the projects, I never have a clear idea in which direction it’s going to take me. As I’m starting to take pictures, I’m slowly approaching the subject and the project takes shape. It is usually a very slow process.”
Daniel S. Alvarez
Daniel S. Alvarez (born in 1983 in Barcelona) is a Spanish documentary and contemporary photographer.
Daniel S. Alvarez is coming from a film education and discovered photography nearly by chance. But soon it became a basic tool to understand the world, narrate it and preserve his memory. A search that resulted in his first work Okuhe (2008-2012), where a little love story is told from a personal point of view. This work has been published in 2012 by Standard Books with a publishing grant from the CoNCa (Council for the Arts of Catalunya) and exhibited in the Centre d’Arts Santa Mónica in Barcelona in 2012.
Currently Daniel S. Alvarez is working between Barcelona, Tokyo and Mexico.
Interview with Daniel S. Alvarez
Daniel, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
An old reflex inherited from my father.
Why did you become a photographer?
Because it is the medium in which I felt most comfortable expressing myself.
What does photography mean to you?
It is a medium that helps me understand the world and myself.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
There have been many different at all times, but now I’d say Nobuyoshi Araki, Robert Frank and Ed van der Elsken.
“My photos are my diary. Every photo is no more than the representation of a single day. And each day contains the past and the projection into the future. That’s why I feel compelled to indicate the date on every picture I take.”
Your favorite quote about photography?
“I am at war with the obvious.” William Eggleston
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
Style, I don’t know if I have one or not. At least it’s not something that I’m overly obsessed with of finding. What I’m looking for in my projects though is to establish a narrative with photographs, to tell a story. At the beginning of the projects, I never have a clear idea in which direction it’s going to take me. As I’m starting to take pictures, I’m slowly approaching the subject and the project takes shape. It is usually a very slow process.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice/language and how did you achieve it?
The style is often a side effect of seeking ways to effectively express a story. I don’t believe it works the other way around. Therefore discussions of style are difficult and I think I can’t contribute to it. The important thing is to know the photographic tradition and to try to bring and add something from your point of view to it.
What characteristics does a good photographer need?
Persistence, empathy, patience and faith in what you do.
What do you think is more important: a perfect use of the camera or a good and creative photographic idea?
Today’s cameras are capable of taking all technical decisions for you and therefore anyone can use them. So I think the most important thing is what you do with the camera and what you intend to put into it. The camera is a tool, no matter how you use it, if the result is in line with what you want.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
Being in touch with your emotions. If one approaches the subject close enough, it’s likely that the images that emerge from this encounter convey something to the viewer.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Above all what is happening around me, but it could be a movie, a book, a fact of life, anything.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I use different cameras, from a compact SLR, to rangefinder, medium format, Polaroids. It really depends on when and what I’m doing.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
There are many, but I recommend American Suburb X.
What photography book would you recommend?
My favorite books are “Diary Sentimental Journey” Nobuyoshi Araki (the original 1971 edition, not the reprint of 1991), “Sweet Life” by Ed van der Elsken and “The Lines of My Hand” by Robert Frank, but the list is endless.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Having a clear goal of what you want to achieve with photography, knowing the tradition and try to contribute something – and above all: never stop taking pictures and having fun.