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The beauty of street photography: Manu Fernández
Spanish photographer Manu Fernández humbly calls himself an ‘initiate’ of professional photograhy. However, the quality of his works, where he mainly captures regular individuals from the streets where he was born and live, -north coast Spanish city of Santander– makes him someone to follow and admire. He is ‘still learning’, he tells me. I am eager to see what can do when he begins to believe on the artist he already is.
The Creative Post: When did you start taking photos and why?
Street photography is spontaneous, it is random, it is different every time and in every place and person you find. I try to document a city, my city, and our time.
Manu Fernández: I have always had a camera. However, it was around 5 years ago when I really had real knowledge about PHOTOGRAPHY (with capital letters!), after a course by Jorge Represa in Santander. Why? Because I wanted to take some good photos, I wasn’t pleased by the ones I was taking until then. This introductory course was the best thing I could do, as I had the chance to know the works of all masters of photography of all times, with an insight view by Jorge. It gave a clear understanding of what ‘good photography’ really is.
T.C.P.: What are your artistic influences?
M.F.: I suppose, I am not certain, that I am influenced by those big names in the industry, especially the ones I know the most and I like. I would prefer not giving names as to be compared to them, as I feel my works are not at their level. I think that every photographer sees and understands photography in different ways, with a different approach at every scence. Of course I would like to be as good as Cartier Bresson, Stephen Shore or Nikos Economopoulos. But I don’t think this will be ever possible. I still don’t have a personal style yet. I am a learner, an initiate, and someday I will find my path in which I can set up my style in a natural way.
T.C.P.: Where do you find inspiration?
M.F.: Inspiration can come from any place and moment. I can happen when I see something attractive to the eye and I try to capture it, then I learn how to improve from my mistakes. In other occasions, I feel I can wait for something to happen, like I usually do when I am around the bay walk in Santander.
T.C.P.: Is your photography spontaneous or planned? Do you ‘cast’ your subjects or do you shoot them as you find them?
M.F.: Photographing the streets is very spontaneous, although you can plan something when you come across a scene or a special place where you wait for something to happen, either someone passing by or several elements from a scene coming together at once. That is the moment to take a picture. Unless I have a project in mind, I usually get out to wait and see what I find in the streets.
T.C.P.: You describe your works as street photography. Why have you focused your work on this area?
M.F.: I find it more attractive. It is spontaneous, it is random, it is different every time and in every place and person you find. I try to document a city, my city, and our time.
T.C.P.: Have you ever used analogical cameras?
M.F.: When I discover Photography, the analogical photography was already obsolete. I do everything digital, mainly because of the immediacy to get the photos. It’s been 14 years shooting in digital and it would be very uncomfortable for me to shoot with an analogical camera.
T.C.P.: How social media helps you and your works?
M.F.: First of all I am not a ‘professional’ in Photography. It is my passion and my hobby. I do other things for a living that have nothing to do with photography or art. However, social media help me to see Photography as it’s made today, especially in order to expose my work. In some extense, they also help me to see their impact and success, although at the same time, I think it is not the best way to measure the quality of my work. It is something I need to think about. Basically I publish my work in my website, my Facebook and Instagram profiles for the essential need that photographers have to show their work. There are exceptions though. My recent discovery on Vivian Maier is the best example. She never revealed her photos, never had the need or perhaps the chance to show her works. As my latest photography teacher Josu Zaldíbar -from Bilbao- would say, we should take photographs for ourselves, not for others.
T.C.P.: What are your present and future projects?
M.F.: My projects can be seen on my website, but they are in early stages yet. Santander from the bay, Santander from the inside, My life, my portraits…They need time to get to the quality level I aim for. When any of these are finished I am planning to exhibit. I am not in a rush though. At the moment I am only thinking on shooting, shooting and shooting to complete any of those.
T.C.P.: What makes Santander a good place for Photography?
M.F.: It is my city, where I was born and when I have lived all my life. There is no other reason. I mean, any other place could be as good to take photos. But I am here, and I want to document it, through street photography and the portraits I shoot of its people and characters.
See a selection of Manu’s works below. Also visit http://manufernandez.photo/