“Recording existence”


Foreword to all my non-Catalan or Spanish speaking friends:

This will be an English resume of my blog texts. Please by kind with me about my grammar skills, and never doubt in suggesting any correction for the mistakes you may find.


I’m going to start with a short story.

In the beginning of 2016, I had a phone call in the magazine’s office. Someone asked about a picture published in a section about “Women runners”.

First of all, this kind of phone calls are a little disturbing: you never know what will happen next.

But the story is as follows: the man calling asked if he could have a copy of one of the published pictures where his girlfriend, Fany Olaria, appeared. She had passed away one year after I photographed her. He explained that to me in a very emotional conversation, where he expressed his happiness about finding the face of her in the magazine, looking happy and enjoying one of the activities she liked the most. The man, Jaume Bernat – now dear “Jaumet” – is nowadays someone with I have a special relationship that was born that day when we talked on the phone. He, of course, got the picture.

Further than just food for the ego and the recording of a fake reality, photography has a sociocultural play which is keeping the memory of those moments that once were and never will be back.

Something that the actual trivialization of photography is diluting.

This is not new: in the XIX century, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, AKA “Nadar” (a big name in photography history) complaint in his memories about that.

Everybody loves looking at pictures, discovering how things were, remembering how places and people looked like… but, anyway, often taking pictures looks suspicious.

Why are you photographing that? It is a common question when taking pictures of non-usual subjects like “nice” things or people acting as if they were happy. Too often, photography has become a record of unreality trying to record not what it is but what we would like it to be, when what is really interesting is what we really live.

The strength of the picture in the story at the beginning of this text comes from spontaneity, from the reaction to the chance of being recorded in a unique moment when someone is honestly happy.

When someone, whatever the reason, needs to urgently abandon home, pictures are one of those things that are always kept. Those pictures that talk about our existence and relation with our beloved.

I think is important to keep this in mind when we trivialize the photographic act.

Obviously, not all pictures mean to be transcendent, or have the need – or the chance – to be so, but is important to be aware of what we do when making a photograph: we are recording life and, as photographer José Manuel Navia said, “- Every photographer has always the obligation of taking the best picture he/she is capable”.

For it is our memory.