You just can’t help smiling looking at the photostream of Pau Llobet Buscató. Those sheer images are a fine mix of fun and frolic captured in perfect timing. Street photography is not always about looking for pathos and ironies, it is also a window to a lively and colorful world out there. Pau makes it possible in his images by making the utmost use of his imagination and ability to see unusual things taking place at parks, streets, beaches and bizarre spots. Photographically speaking, his images are very clean and balanced with various elements complementing each other. There are indeed deeper and thoughtful moments in some of his images but they too are set in a way that evokes humor. Here’s Pau telling us more about himself and his photography:
I was born in Barcelona in 1975 and live in Norway since 2009. When I was 8 we moved to Ibiza, the beautiful Mediterranean island where my family still lives. After 9 years in the island I returned to Barcelona to study architecture at the university and since then I’ve worked at architecture offices, with a special focus on 3d visualizations, something very related to photography.
I’ve always been interested in creativity and the different ways we have to express it. Be it cinema, painting, literature or music, some names that have followed me through the years are Kubrick, Polanski, Paul Klee, Beethoven, Pedro Salinas or Julio Cortázar. But I’m very eclectic when it comes to music and you can actually find me listening to all kinds of genres.
I still feel like I’m doing my first steps. I bought my first “serious” camera in 2011, an entry level DSLR with a kit zoom lens. There I started the non recommended path of gear acquisition syndrome (GAS), buying a full frame DSLR and the best zoom lenses in a few months. For quite a long time I lacked any direction and did all the mistakes there are to do. I was too focused on what the camera (not me) was capable of, and my photos were crap.
It was in the mid 2012 that I made the conscious choice for street photography. I sold all my DSLR equipment and bought a secondhand Leica with a 35mm lens. I shot only b&w for one and a half years, including an eight months period of only b&w film, developing at home. All those limitations helped me gain more discipline and focus.
Why did you get into photography? Why do you take pictures?
To be honest photography has become an addiction. I simply need to get out and take photos on a daily basis. Same as with the morning coffee, taking photos makes me feel better. There are those times out in the street when I enter a kind of meditative state in which my intuition takes control and drives me through what seems a choreographed chain of interesting scenes/subjects, perfectly timed one after the other, and I just need to follow and try to take the best out of them. That’s only on the best days and it doesn’t last long, but I love it.
I’ve always been an observant person, but even more since I started seriously with street photography. That is the major effect it has had on me. It has helped me to open my eyes and SEE, and it has increased my awareness, because it requires you to be very focused on here/now.
What equipment do you mostly use on streets?
Some time ago I decided to simplify as much as possible my photo equipment, and I sold almost everything. I kept the Leica MP with a 35mm lens and bought a Ricoh GR.
It is very important for me to reduce as much as possible my equipment choices. Choices distract me a lot. Even with only two lenses (50mm and 28mm) I was often doubting about which one to use at each time. Focusing on a single lens and buying the GR killed all my equipment distractions. And the Ricoh is such a great camera for street photography. Its “snap focus” mode is perfect and the camera is so small and inconspicuous. It never gets on the way.
I don’t really have a favourite photo. Or if I do, I change my mind all the time. Anyway, this (see below) one was taken on one of my long-weekend trips to London. I started my walk at 9am and after 5 hours of shooting I remember being really hungry! didn’t want to stop though, because of my poor photos during the morning. I wanted to have at least one decent shot before grabbing a bite. I was in the financial part of the city (one of my favourites) and about to give up, when I saw this one-legged business woman in an elegant red skirt and shoe. She was moving forward in graceful little jumps, and it looked almost as if she was playing a lonely giant hopscotch. When she was about to cross the street (Gravel Lane) I noticed the great combination of shapes and colours so took a couple of shots. Now that I think of it, “Hopscotch” would probably work better as a title than “Monopod”. Anyway.. I liked what I saw in my camera display and had an incredibly good lunch nearby.
When out shooting I’m not looking for a specific kind of photo, I just try to focus and hope I’ll see something good.
It’s true that some of my shots have an humorous, absurd touch and others are more graphic, but in general I just try to make them meaningful to me. What I can’t deny is that I like my photos to be neat. Busy backgrounds really disturb me and I try to avoid them.
Sometimes I work by addition, trying to find interesting relationships between different subjects; other times I get an idea for a specific location and wait there for a while, or go back several times until I can make it as I anticipated. Or, I just stumble onto a great scene and try to take the best out of it. Patience and luck always play an important role, too.
Street photography is incredibly difficult, and what works one day doesn’t work the next. It depends on your mood, too, as every creative process. It can be frustrating sometimes, when you miss a good photo by just half a second or for a poor framing. On the good days I seem to always be in the right place at the right time. On the bad ones I’m every time a second too late or can’t even find a single interesting thing, as if I suddenly lost my capacity to see.
Street photography is in a good moment. You just have to look at the right places, though. The internet and smartphones have over flooded us with pictures, and most of them of very poor quality. That’s why you need to filter all down and focus on the good spots. There are for example some fantastic curated groups in Flickr in which to seek for feedback and inspiration. Lots of great talent there. Collectives like in-public, street-photographers or observe and communities like Urban Picnic are also giving us fantastic street photography content: photos, articles, inspiration, etc.
When it comes to a personal style, at the moment I’m just chasing the carrot on the stick, looking forward to my next decent shot and like this moving forward. I can see some echoes in theme and style when I look back, but I think it’s still too soon to talk about a solid and defined voice. Give me some years and we’ll see.
What are your favorite places to shoot in? Any plans visiting abroad?
Bergen’s city centre is really small and I actually prefer big cities for shooting. That’s why in the last year I’ve taken 5 long-weekend trips to London and a week in New York. I travel alone and spend around 10 hours of shooting every day. The only plan there is to get out, walk and shoot. Big cities offer much more photo opportunities, it’s as simple as that.
I’m going back to London in a few weeks and should definitely visit New York again and stay more than just a week. I’m also quite curious about some of the big cities in Asia and would love to go take pictures there.
Good literature, music, and art in general has always been a source of inspiration. The poetic universe of Pedro Salinas or Julio Cortázar’s short stories, where reality and fantasy blend so subtlety; Beethoven’s late string quartets; Paul Klee’s visual language and his singular creativity.. I believe that experiencing great art opens certain doors in ourselves, that let us explore and see the world around us in different ways. It widens our perception.
Among my street photography books some of my favourites are Bresson’s “Europeans”, “On Street Photography and the Poetic Image”, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, any of Kertész’s books and “Street Photography Now” by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren.
At this moment my main motivation is to keep learning. I wake up everyday with the promise of great photos waiting outside. Hidden gems to be found. It’s like a never ending treasure hunt game, but with no map. Difficult and exciting.
Sure. It’s actually a numbered list as under:
1. Focus on photos, not gear.
2. Shoot a lot, persist and be patient.
3. Look often at great photography by the ones you admire.
4. Ask yourself why you admire them. What do you like in each photo? Develop a critical eye.
5. Apply that critical eye to your own photos.
6. Don’t go into the favs/likes rat race.
7. I like this number.
8. Thanks PhotoArtMag for having me here.
9. All the best and good luck.
Note: All images used with permission. Please do not copy or distribute without the approval of the photographer.