Interview with portrait photographer Victoria Iglesias
Some time ago, in 1996 to be exact, in a book titled ‘On Photography’ Susan Sontag wrote: “today everything exists to end in a photograph”.
Today, 20 years later, in the era of digital cameras and smartphones, of Instagram and selfies, that statement holds truer than ever before.
Although there still are great photographers, I think that it is much harder to find ones who first learned to see and then learned to shoot, who learned to enjoy that 1/125th of a second and to understand it. In short, to culminate in a photograph a precise moment or as Henri Cartier Bresson would put it “…to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart.”
Nevertheless, and purely by chance I might add, I saw a photo in a Sunday supplement that caught my attention and that proved that there still exists photographers out there that have all of these qualities. I’m sure that many of you who are reading this will have seen more than one of Victoria Iglesias’ portraits since she has been published by: Panorama, El país Semanal, Tentaciones, el Magazine de la Vanguardia, Interviú, Travel, ParisMatch, Cosmopolitan, Vogue along with many others.
The Raw Society: Why did you become a photographer?
Victoria Iglesias: I became a photographer by chance, or because destiny had planned it that way, I don’t know.
I moved to Madrid to continue studying journalism. Almost without meaning to, and in a very anecdotal manner, through Fernando Múgia who I didn’t even know, I started working in a magazine called Panorama in the photography section. While studying for my exams (I hardly had any time to attend classes) I would learn how to look at slides, write, cut newswires…to make photographs, and soon I started publishing them.
Over time, it became my job, my suffering, my vocation and my passion. I didn’t know it then, but photography came looking for me.
TRS: What project have you always wanted to do but have not gotten around to doing?
Victoria Iglesias: I have the publication of a book of portraits and stories pending. If I don’t succeed, I guess I’ll have to do a crowdfunding soon. The truth, lately I have not had much time to work on this project.
TRS: What is the hardest portrait you have had to take?
Victoria Iglesias: The hardest portrait…the one I haven’t taken yet. But it’s true that some people are harder to take portraits of than others, not so much because of their physique but because of their disposition or character.
TRS: And the easiest?
Victoria Iglesias: There are no easy portraits. There are some photos and sessions that you enjoy more than others.
TRS: Which historical figure would you have liked to photograph?
Victoria Iglesias: If I had been born in a different era I would have dedicated my time to photographying Gerda Taro; although I would have changed that dramatic ending of hers (the way she died makes me very sad).
I would also have liked to lose myself in India with Gandhi. Nelson Mandela would have been a great portrait for my camera and a real pleasure for me. I was also left with the desire of meeting Gabito (Gabriel García Márquez) whilst in Colombia. If my work had brought me to Mother Teresa, I would also have been very grateful.
TRS: Have you had any adventures or misadventures whilst working with the magazines in which you have been published?
Victoria Iglesias: There have been many adventures, but it would take too long to tell you about them.
Misadventures: in the old days, when they would lose your film, forget to sign your name on the photos or when the printer would print your photos devoid of colour and definition; this last one still happens now, continuously, with the large print-runs.
TRS: What equipment do you use?
Victoria Iglesias: Currently a very basic one; because before I had a beautiful Hasselblad amongst others. The camera I use now is a Canon Eos 5D MarkII and a 24-105mm.
TRS: Any advice for the beginners out there?
Victoria Iglesias: Learn to photograph as if you were using an analogue camera, do the exercise of not looking at your photos until you get home, cover the screen and shoot on manual mode.
Also, be humble and respectful of the people and things you photograph. The ego is sometimes overly-developed in this profession.
TRS: Are you working on any project that we will be able to see soon?
Victoria Iglesias: Yes. But I don’t like talking about unfinished projects because I don’t know if they will see the light or be stopped along the way.
And so, the interview comes to an end with this great photographer.
Now, on Sundays when we go for breakfast, we look for one of those publications, because since then, our Sundays are always a little about Victoria Iglesias.
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