“The source of inspiration for my own projects is the environment, getting lost in the places that I want to photograph. First I just wander around, walking through empty spaces, sometimes instinctively, sometimes on a previously drawn out route.”
Helena Rovira (born in 1984) is a Spanish landscape photographer. She studied photography at “Centro de la Imagen y la Tecnología Multimedia” (Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona) and graduated in 2006. Helena Rovira has also participated in several workshops held by Pep Bonet, Alejandro Castellote, and Joan Roig, for example.
“The focus of my photographic universe revolves around territory and landscape. I analyze the places I want to photograph and then impose a clean frame upon them, simplifying structures and subsequent treatment based on color unsaturation. I’m interested in the gray days, cloudy and light fall-winter atmospheres. I define my work as shy and subtle topography that reflects the intervention and interaction of human life and existence in the world, both in the cities and in protected natural areas.”
Interview with Helen Rovira
Helena, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
The first camera I used was a compact analog of my father, who used it to capture the moments during our summer holidays. When I started to get interested in photography, I bought a Nikon F55, which I used mainly to explore my own existence through conceptual self-portraits during my college years.
Why did you become a photographer?
When I was young, I started to collect the images that were published in the sunday papers my grandmother used to buy. At the age of 16, I felt a deep interest in the medium. I wanted to be the one who took those photos.
What does photography mean to you?
Which photographer has inspired you most? In what way?
My favorite photographer is Stephen Shore, he is absolutely authentic. Robert Adams fascinates me, too. Then I like other classic photographers such as Ed Ruscha, Joel Sternfeld and John Gossage. Todd Hido is also wonderful, just as Duane Michals. They represent what I’m looking for in photography: territory, good books and photographic sequences.
US-photographer Todd Hido being followed at night while shooting
“I guess the night just kind of erases a lot of stuff. There is a lot of negative space at nighttime. And there is a mystery about it that’s intriguing me. The way the light changes. and streetlights cast shadows on houses, almost as if some of them were spotligt.”
Your favorite photography quote?
“The most important thing is not the camera but the eye.”
How would you describe your photographic voice?
Intimate. I realize my projects calmly starting from a previous idea that I have in mind. I document and investigate about what has already been done about a specific subject or theme, and then try to provide a fresh look at what I’m photographing.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
One becomes a photographer over the years, with work, when technique, eye and speech come together and point into the same direction, just as Henri Cartier-Bresson once said. Each photographer brings his or her own experience along, how to do certain things and to see the world differently. That’s what my photography is about. In my case, once I found my area, I focused on specialising in the genre of landscape. Therefore both the vision, and having something to say, are very important in order to achieve a personal style, and not let your work appear flat and boring.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
The focus of my photographic universe revolves around territory and landscape. I analyze the places I want to photograph and then impose a clean frame upon them, simplifying structures and subsequent treatment based on color unsaturation. I’m interested in the gray days, cloudy and light fall-winter atmospheres. I define my work as shy and subtle topography that reflects the intervention and interaction of human life and existence in the world, both in the cities and in protected natural areas.
What are the characteristics a good photographer must have?
Ideas, speech and coherence.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
The source of inspiration for my own projects is the environment, getting lost in the places that I want to photograph. First I just wander around, walking through empty spaces, sometimes instinctively, sometimes on a previously drawn out route.
What do you think is more important: a perfect use of the camera or a strong photographic idea?
The idea is central in today’s contemporary photography. These days, digital photography has sophisticated the handling of the camera which allows to shoot in even under the most adverse conditions. Also, with digital cameras getting cheaper and cheaper, they are becoming more accessible for everyone, hence a continuously growing number of people are taking pictures. The important thing now is that the photographs have a context, a worked out speech, a pretense or purpose. That’s fundamental in my eyes.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Nikon D700 with a 50mm and 35-70mm.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I don’t have a specific one. I follow several blogs. Among them, there are three important ones: “New Landscape Photography”, “El Otro Blog”, and “Have a Nice Book”.
What photography book would you recommend?
Several! “On Photography” by Susan Sontag, “The Photobook: A History” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, and the photo book “The Pond” by John Gossage.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
First of all: Love what you do at all times! Then try to learn something new all the time. Analyze other photographers and nourish your eyes looking at their work. That’s important. Then, care about adding your personal style. Last but not least: a great deal of public relations and good contacts.
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