The secret is in the small details
Hi David, it’s a pleasure to have you for this interview! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
The pleasure is mine, that you have chosen my work to be here and answering this interview is an honor. I am a 41-year-old photographer who lives in a small town, Torregalindo, in the province of Burgos, Spain. I’ve been into photography for about eight years, and the majority dedicated to portrait photography, sessions, boudoir and lifestyle. Also some artistic nudity. I love being able to show in images the best of who I have in front of me and at the same time being able to show my artistic vision to the world, they are the two reasons that makes me continue with my work.
How did photography come into your life and what genres did you take before you went into Fashion, Lifestyle and Portrait/Boudoir?
Photography has always been present in my life, but as in many cases in a documentary way, with photos of trips, concerts, family, celebrations, etc. When I had my first digital camera (a Kodak 2mpx) I discovered that being able to treat the photos myself gave it a plus, and I continued with compact cameras until 2011 when I decided to buy a reflex and start to train as a photographer.
From there, I’ve photographed many genres, especially landscape and night photography, which I still love… but when I started photographing people I knew I had found the type of photos that filled me. I began to schedule sessions, to attend workshops, to train in image editing… everything focused on that type of photography. Until today, when I continue with the same dynamic trying to improve a little every day.
Although the Olympus M43 system is quite popular among outdoor/nature photographers, it is rather unusual to see it used by portrait and studio photographers. Previously you used the highly praised Nikon D750 with the magnificent Sigma lenses from the Art series. What reasons led you to change to the Olympus camera system?
The million dollar question! Out of jokes, when I decided to change the system, I did it because of a change in my way of understanding my photography. I also made social photography, and ISO performance with natural light, was more important. I left that photograph aside, and decided that I wanted a camera setup that could give me quality, but also one that I would not use just to work. With my full format equipment I had the backpack ready to go to work, but for all the rest of the photos I was using just my smartphone. Now, with the Olympus system, I take the camera to many more places and I enjoy it also in serious work, like for a walk and to be able to make a landscape. Having an exceptional quality with a mini size is incredible.
And the truth, in my most professional work, study sessions or outside, even some photos in interiors with natural light, I have not noticed any inconvenience to continue carrying out my photography without limitations.
Are there any features of the D750 that you miss on the E-M1 MkII?
When someone abandons the full format, be it Nikon or any brand, he always does it with the same questions. ISO performance and greater depth of field. In portraits especially the second issue is important, and of course, I was also worried about this. I discovered that with the Zuiko Pro optics I can move at least in the depth of field levels that I used before with my Zuiko 45mm 1.2, my favorite lens and the focal length I use the most. The only thing I always say that I miss is to be able to get more blur with more angular lenses, it’s not possible to emulate the behavior of a 35mm f/1.4 in our system, but it’s not decisive in my photography.
This is a question that involves more than formats, the truth is that Olympus puts a lot of technology that I didn’t have in my D750. I’m in love with the electronic viewfinder, it focuses very well and has aids like peaking. Not to mention functions that I use more for landscape like LiveTime or LiveComposite. In short, it offers me much more than what it takes from me.
What about lenses, what’s your current lenses setup and how do they compare to the Sigma Art?
I had a lot of lenses, like the Pro 12-40 and 40-150 zooms, and some angular ones for landscape, but my portraiture work is mostly done with the Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 and I complete it with the Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 and Panaleica 25mm f/1.4. Maybe one day we will have to replace the 17mm for something brighter.
The Zuiko Pro range has nothing to envy to lenses from other brands, not even Sigma Art series. They are sharp, even at maximum aperture, which in full-format lenses is difficult to happen, not to say that I didn’t have any.
What flash system are you using with the Olympus E-M1 MkII?
My whole system of flashes is Godox. They have a great relationship between price and performance, and a large system of flashes both studio, portable and above camera, controlled by a single trigger and integrated receivers. I have a V860ii and two AD200, which can be used together to get a 400w light source. In the studio where I work, there are two Elinchrom heads to add to this equipment.
Whether for studio work, or outdoor portraits, which light modifiers do you use the most?
As for modifiers, they are quite different in the studio or outside for a simple reason of portability. In the studio I use mostly an octabox of 120cm and a pair of stripes of 120x30cm, in many occasions with grid. I also like to use a beauty dishe or a led ring light for more closed portraits.
Outdoors, as I said, the size is the most important, I have 90 and 60cm folding octabox, a small beauty dish and the indispensable white umbrellas. In addition, we always have a thousand gadgets to play with light: snoots, grids, barn doors, etc.
Could you share some tips for combining artificial with natural light in outdoor portraits?
Balancing natural and artificial light is the most important thing outdoors when you are using flash. Most of the time in these situations I use a single point of artificial light, and natural light as a second point. Almost always the sun as a backlight to cut the subject, and my flash as the main light.
Sometimes it is the opposite, the situation depends, but the way of acting is the same, exposing in camera what we want natural light to do, and then adjust the power of our flash to completing the photo. And play, play a lot to learn. Personally I am in favor of not using automatisms, neither in the flashes nor in the camera, and to know what I am doing in each moment and to learn how each parameter affects the photo.
How do you usually direct the models to get the poses that favor them the most? Are you the kind of photographer who gives fairly assertive instructions, or on the contrary, do they pose freely and you capture their best moments?
For me this is one of the most important issues in the photography of models, and in general of people, and that is not given too much importance or at least not all that is due. The direction of models must be a mixture of indications and let the model evolve in their poses to capture great moments that manage to transmit something in the images. There is a very important psychological and empathy part.
I usually tell the models that more than posing for me, they are acting, so they don’t stop moving, getting more natural and organic photos… but always from a starting point established before and with clear objectives of what you want to achieve. It’s about trying to reach a point of relaxation and comfort where the model can give me the best of itself, and that I think is not possible with static and strict poses.
Regarding post-processing and image retouching, what do you think about the small corrections of “imperfections” in Photoshop and what’s your personal limit when you’re working on an image?
All the photographs in my portfolio have retouching. I think it’s a second part of the work, without which the photo for me is not finished. It’s one more part of the artistic process, as well as locating, choosing a model, lighting, directing, etc.
I use Photoshop especially for the topic of skin cleaning, which is something complicated to do effectively and at the same time that it is natural in other programs, in addition I usually perform some highlights and above all adjust color and effects to give that personal touch, that in the end is what makes you also recognize the work of a photographer just by looking at his photos. It’s a job that takes time in each image, but although it must be efficient, it should not lead to overprocessing.
The limit? Well, imagine that everyone has it in one place, for me is not to modify the person in front of me, to be recognized. I don’t usually perform photographic surgeries, putting or removing things, I believe that in the small details is the secret. Nobody remembers a pimple on the face of a model when he sees her live, but if it is in the photo it remains forever.
“Since I started in this journey of photography I have taken many photos of all styles, however, the one that I love the most and the one that I spend the most time is Portraiture and all its aspects… social, fashion, glamour, boudoir or even artistic nude.”