“My passion for journalism came before I’d started to like photography. I found in photography an incredible way to achieve my goal: tell stories and the perfect excuse to visit different parts of the world and meet people from different backgrounds.”
Biel Calderón Rincón (born in 1983 on the Spanish island Mallorca) is a self-taught photojournalist currently based in Bangkok.
At the age of 18, Biel Calderón Rincón moved to Madrid to study a BA in Political Science. In 2007 he graduated in “MA Asian and Pacific Studies” (Barcelona). Finally, in 2008 he graduated in MA Photojournalism (Barcelona) and became a photographer.
Recently he has been exploring Multimedia Journalism (MA International Multimedia Journalism, 2012, Beijing) along side his photography in order to test new ways of storytelling.
Biel Calderón Rincón, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
Minolta Maxxum 7000. Simply photographing my neighbourhood. But my first serious camera and experience with photography was in 2004. That year I bought my first DSLR camera, the Olympus E300.
I had some compact digital cameras before, not fast enough to freeze the movements of the bboys (breakdancers) from Madrid. So I decided to buy a better camera. The photos that came out of it weren’t anything special – but I fell in love with photography.
Why did you become a photographer?
My passion for journalism came before I’d started to like photography. I found in photography an incredible way to achieve my goal: tell stories and the perfect excuse to visit different parts of the world and meet people from different backgrounds.
In 2007, I enrolled in a MA in Photojournalism (Barcelona). Since then I started to think as a photographer I guess.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is the tool I’m using to explore stories I’m interested in. I’m not following the truth itself, I want to explore my vision of the truth. I love the challenge in trying to explain something with one image or a series of images.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
I’ve been inspired by many photographers over the years, but my first big inspiration was James Nachtwey and the documentary about him, “War Photographer” – on of the best photography movies ever. I found incredible how deep he was going through the stories, his sincere approach.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, “War Photographer” is the compelling portrait of the man considered the bravest and most important war photographer of our time, James Nachtwey. It’s an intimate look at the world through James Nachtwey’s eyes. Interviews with colleagues, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, help describe the personality of James Nachtwey.
“The pictures that were coming from Vietnam were showing us what was really happening on the ground level. It was in contradiction to what our political and military leaders were telling us. They were straight forward documentary images. A powerful indictment of the war, of how cruel and unjust it was. When I finally decided what to do with my life, it was to follow in that tradition.”
Your favorite photography quote?
“Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.”
I also like another one from Steve McCurry:
“To become a photographer leave your house first.”
How would you describe your photographic voice?
I often like to take pictures in unfamiliar territories. If I’ve to describe myself I’d say that I’m a storyteller or a documentary photographer. Anyway, being self-taught, I guess I’ve learnt from a wide range of photographic styles.
Photography needs a lot of practice. It’s also important to take a look to other photographer’s works. Don’t be afraid to copy, but at some point you need to break away from them. By the way, enjoy what you’re doing. It’s crucial to develop an own photographic language.
Anyway, I think I still have to develop my own voice. But I guess I’m on the right track to achieve it (I hope so).
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
Being close enough to the subject while trying to be as invisible as I can.
Sometimes, you can see on my pictures some uncertainty. I just want to give the viewer the opportunity to have an own opinion I guess.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Observe. Curiosity and patience. Intuition and spontaneity.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
As Ansel Adams said:
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
The emotional aspect is more important than the technical part. A photograph should engage its viewers.
I also prefer suggest certain uncertainty rather than try to provide a whole solution.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Not sure. Meeting people, reading, surfing on the Internet, walking through the city. I’d say that I get inspiration from what I see, read, experience and observe.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I’m not really a “techy” person. I rather prefer to focus on the narrative. I’ve a DSLR Camera and a couple of lenses. I just moved from fix lenses to zoom lenses.
Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f4, Canon 16-35 f2.8, and Canon 50 1.4.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I’d recommend: www.photojournalismlinks.com
What photography book would you recommend?
“Satellites” by Jonas Bendiksen, “Black Passport” by Stanley Green, “The Roma Journeys” by Joakim Eskildsen, “Inferno” by James Nachtwey.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Never give up. Follow your passion.