Saturday, April 25, 2009

Interview with Barcelonaphotoblog - Carlos Lorenzo

Today's post is an interview with Carlos Lorenzo about his fantastic Barcelona Photoblog. Carlos captures images in Barcelona like no-one else on the web, and if you're not already subscribing to his feeds I highly recommend you do so - even if you have no interest in photography. I'd like to thank Carlos greatly for agreeing to this interview and giving up his free time to answer my questions.

1. How long have you been interested in photography?

The interest was with me since I was young. Not that I had the camera but I do remember feeling curiosity about photographs, about the result. I remember I felt in love with photography when I first saw Blowup by Antonioni. A classic movie where a fashion photographer accidentally captures a murder scene in the park but he is only aware of that when enlarging pictures in his darkroom. It was a magical experience. Yes, I guess I was aware of photographers and cameras right then. Later on I had a Pentax which still works smoothly. And I also have an old Voigtlander as a family keepsake.

Barcelonaphotoblog - Barcelona Sights blog

2. What camera do you use?

At the moment I use Nikon. The D70s model which is very similar to D80. I would change it for another Nikon of course. D700 would be great although it is expensive. D3 is too much for my pocket.

3. Why did you start the blog?

Back in 2005 I noticed there was this buzz about creating your own blog, that it was free and fun. I went to Blogger and started thinking about a name and a topic for the new thing. I remember creating about 5 new blogs which I still keep somewhere in limbo.
One of them though was called Barcelona Photoblog. It was a simple title and I had the chance to grab it. It was a stupid thing to do then. There was no rivalry. No one would care about me grabbing that name. The blog had just one post and so it stayed for a year. In 2006 I resumed the activities encouraged by a group of bloggers representing their cities around the world who apparently got the idea from a guy named Eric in Paris. He was the alma mater of the group. I saw what they were doing and wanted to do the same. I had finally found a real purpose, a topic for the blog. I had a problem my small compact camera then was a crap. In spite of that, I set out to explore the city with a lot of energy and completely elated by the nice comments I was receiving and for being a member of such great community. In a way, I felt I could express myself thanks to the camera. It felt good inside doing such a thing. It was like painting or composing. The fact that I had studied English philology made Barcelona Photoblog possible too. I hate maths, I am not good at them but I am not an absolute ignorant when it comes to writing, at least when it comes to small texts. So I could kill two birds with a single shot, writing and shooting. It was fantastic and still is. Later on the blog acquired this touristic connotation which is rather inevitable in Barcelona and it is not a bad thing after all.

Kid feeding Pigeons at Plaça Catalunya - Carlos Lorenzo on Barcelona sights

4. Are there any places in Barcelona that you think anyone can always get a great picture? (like Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, etc.?)

A great picture is something subjective. The image, the place, the situation is there for you to capture but it depends on you, on your creativity, your intuition, your art, your skill. A good place makes it easier for you to come up with a good picture of course. Las Ramblas is a wonderful place to find interesting spontaneous situations, specially if you like street photography. If you prefer landscapes you have to go to Montjuic castle, the Mirador del Alcalde to have a panoramic view of the city or even better Tibidabo in the afternoon. Everything Gaudi is highly recommended if you like art, colors, whimsical shapes, furniture, architecture. Barcelona's Art Nouveau or Catalan modernisme is unique and a must-see. Gaudi's crypt in Colonia Güell is beautiful and so is Park Güell, but there are hundreds of catalogued buildings in the city which will make a photographer's day. Of course you can take the elevator inside Sagrada Familia's spires and take a picture from up there. That is beautiful but if you have time, go for those nooks and crannies in the city. Take a tripod, go late in the afternoon, watch every angle, innovate, preview the image in your mind before shooting and wish for a little luck. Only then you will have a wonderful photograph. It is an endless learning process. I still have a lot to learn along the way.

5. What would you say is your favourite thing to capture? and the most difficult?

I prefer people, not portraits, but passersby on the street. That's an incredible source of inspiration. Stalking for a snap is thrilling, it is full of art. I feel much more satisfied with randomness, with natural gestures, life as is. Finding a good shot in such chaos is like going hunting with a brush. I mean is not boring, static, studio shooting. That does not mean I stick to street photography. If you check my work you will notice I am rather eclectic. It is the combination of all my images what really makes sense to me. That's when I feel proud about my modest work. As to the most difficult. Hmm, night shots. Oh, am I bad at that!!!

6. You recently moved from blogspot to your own domain. Why?

Oh, that's true. If you have been a blogger, in the sense that you have a blog hosted by, you will agree that the blogspot domain has been and still is a real pain in the arse. Everyone would get rid of that if given an easy choice to do so. To own your domain is essential for good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Although in my case this is not owning a domain with full power. Well, you know how this works. Google gives you the possibility to pay Godaddy for a domain then they do all the "paperwork" for you. I chose another way, I paid Dreamhost for my new domain, which is better than Godaddy for me but not the best, and pointed it to Google. After that Blogger does the rest and the blog is moved from Blogger to Google. Well, it is a complex process. It is worth doing since it will help you getting better SERPs (Search Engine Page Results). Of course much more needs to be done to be in the top positions of your niche.

6. Is there anything you have not captured in your blog so far that you'd really like to?
Let me think, after three years of daily posting it is difficult to say. I guess, I would like to wake up early in the morning and take a sightseeing boat and capture Barcelona skyline when the sun breaks out.

7. Finally, what is your "top tip" for visitors to Barcelona with photography in mind?
Get out of the touristic route. Meet the real Barcelonians. They will give you better leads that will save you time and money. Avoid high season. May, June, September, October are better months. And something very stupid, you will need a plug adapter for your camera!!!

Image kindly reproduced with permission from Carlos at flickr.


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