“The photographer must have a message to share, a unique point of view that imprints in the shot, so when you see the photo, you not only see the scene but also the mind of the photographer in that exact moment.”
Pedro Santiago (born in 1973) is a street photographer currently based in Guatemala.
He learned photography from books.
Pedro Santiago recently published a book of his work: “Calles de Guatemala”.
“Street photography, an escape from reality through reality.”
Interview with Pedro Santiago
Pedro Santiago, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was a Canon IXUS Advantix, a long time ago. I used it to take photographs on my travels.
Why did you become a photographer?
Photography helps me to share my point of view, and to understand the point of view of others. It’s a way of capturing a second of life and share it.
What does photography mean to you?
It’s a way to find the beauty and the greatness in every second of life, you learn to see and to appreciate the wonder of life.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Thomas Leuthard, also known as 85mm. His free-download PDF e-books where a great guide when I made my first steps in street photography.
Your favorite photography quote?
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
I’m often asked: Did you get what you wanted? But how should I know what I wanted? A photo is an encounter, a surprise.
How would you describe your photographic language?
I choose a theme for the day, something like couples, newspapers, umbrellas, etc. Then I get out to the streets looking for that theme, and take the shot without interfering with the scene, it’s about getting unposed shots. I usually select only five percent of the photographs I have taken on a day, then at home I convert them to black and white, and sometimes add a vignette.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
You have to try different styles, until you find the most natural to you. You are not a static person, you are constantly growing, so it can happen that your styles change, too, over time. So it is a good practice to challenge yourself to always try something new.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
In this moment I am taking mostly street photography in monochrome, focusing on the content without the distraction of the color. The use of 35mm and 50mm lenses demands to take the shot very close to the subject without interfering in the scene. Street photography is a very exciting practice.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
The photographer must have a message to share, a unique point of view that imprints in the shot, so when you see the photo, you not only see the scene but also the mind of the photographer in that exact moment.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It has to move me inside, the photo must capture the emotion of the moment.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Mostly from the streets, the everyday life. I find the inspiration in the little details that make life worthwhile.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Nikon 7000 with a 35mm and a 50 mm, f1.8 lenses.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
500px, a great community of all kind of fine photographers.
What photography book would you recommend?
“La Hora del Recreo” by Carlos Spottorno and Fernando Marías, an excellent and moving documentary book about child labour in Latin America.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
First, take the image with your heart, then with your camera, always follow your personal point of view. That’s what makes a shot, great and unique.