Quoting Eugene Delacroix, “The source of genius is imagination alone… the refinement of the senses that sees what others do not see, or sees them differently”. Ignasi Raventos sees the streets of Barcelona differently, classically… a view devoid of chaos and disorder… devoid of exhausting shapes and colors. In resisting modern trends, Raventos has created a magazine worthy collection of classic street images that are set apart from the common through his extraordinary use of light and content. Welcome to his streets, the streets of Barcelona.
When I was young, I dreamed of being a photographer for National Geographic. Back then, photography was not a lucrative profession, so I decided to abandon my dream and make a living as an advertising creative. Many years later, with the advent of digital photography, I discovered that the pictures I wanted to make in my small laboratory could now be made cheaply and quickly. This allowed me to pursue my dream. My workplace is the streets of Barcelona. My understanding of photography is classic: light, composition and decisive moments."Ignasi Raventos
WSP: What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?
IR: For me, street photography is the most complete photography genre. It has all the qualities of photographic art: capturing reality, the immediacy, the unique and unrepeatable moment, the composition… the life.
WSP: How did you get involved with street photography?
IR: Street photography is the challenge that I put before myself each day after leaving my home. I tell myself, “You cannot go home without obtaining a dignified image”. It's addictive… a shot of adrenaline when I get a decent image.
WSP: What are the components of a really great street frame?
IR: In street photography, the magic happens when the scene that is happening in front of your camera coincides with the image that has formed in your mind a split second before clicking.
WSP: How do you determine whether an image is useable or not?
IR: The difference between acceptable or unacceptable is very clear to me. I ask myself the following questions: Has something interesting happened? Is there a decisive moment? Is the light correct? Does the composition help to make the scene legible?
WSP: Can you identify a unifying theme throughout your photographs?
IR: Yes. The light. In my opinion, light is the essence of photography. The light reveals the shapes and textures. The light helps to highlight or hide. The light gives visual quality to the image.
WSP: What is the most challenging part about being a photographer?
IR: Every day it becomes more difficult to do better than I did the day before. The easy thing to do is repeat clichés. The difficult thing to do is to be original. The easy thing is to settle for what others do. The difficult thing is to be true to myself and my style.
WSP: What are your photography weaknesses?
IR: My weakness is excessive classicism. I do not like modern trends in which chaos and disorder reign. I also do not like photographs without a clear idea. This fashion of filling frames with colors and shapes is exhausting.
WSP: How do you choose the places you go to photograph?
IR: My habit is to choose places with good lighting and few distracting elements. When a place calls my attention, I compose the frame and wait for something interesting to happen.
WSP: How do you shoot in non-ideal shooting circumstances?
IR: With street photography, there is never ideal circumstances. One has to adapt quickly to the scene to capture the best view, the best frame, the best light. If these conditions are not met, it is better not to take the picture.
WSP: What was your scariest moment as a photographer?
IR: The idea of returning home without obtaining a good image. When that happens, depression runs very deep. But the best way to avoid falling into a depression is to not give up.
WSP: What is your best photography tip?
IR: Be yourself. Believe in what you do. Do not give up. Insist, insist, insist.
WSP: Which photographers have influenced your thinking and photography?
IR: I like to see and learn from the masters: Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Elliot Erwit, Kertcher, Steve McCurry, Fan Ho, Salgado, Trent Parke, Eugeni Forcano, and Frances Catala Roca.
WSP: Do others recognize your work when your name is not attached?
IR: This has happened many times.
WSP: Please describe your post-process workflow.
IR: For me, the post processing should not be more important than the shot itself. I do not usually spend much time in the post production of my photographs. I shoot in RAW and generally slightly adjust the contrast or brightness. I use an editing program to convert images to black and white.
WSP: RAW or JPG and why?
IR: RAW of course, for the flexibility in the post processing.
WSP: What is your best post processing tip?
IR: If it is a good shot, post processing isn’t needed.
WSP: What type of images do you view as cliché, overdone, or too common?
IR: Looking at the photos on some social networks, I especially hate clichés that are repeated over and over. Many photographs fail to tell a story. They are images that speak to the photographer's expertise at placing a small human figure in front of great architecture, or the end of a tunnel, etc. But this is not enough. There are many clichés to avoid.
WSP: Many photographers feel that we're all inundated with images thanks to Instagram and the web in general. Have you seen a change in the way people interact with your photos because of that?
IR: The danger of the invasion of photos on social networks is that photography is increasingly ephemeral. A photo on Instagram or Facebook has an increasingly shorter life and quickly loses interest because hundreds more replace each one. In the end, yours is inevitably lost in the timeline.
WSP: How has photography changed you as a person?
IR: Coming back to photography after so many years has been a great pleasure for me. Digital photography has made photography more democratic and even more popular. It is the most practiced art form.
WSP: What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
IR: My goal is that my viewers stop more than two seconds to look… because they like the light, because they like the composition, because they are intrigued by the scene.
WSP: What is one question no one has ever asked you that you wish they had asked you?
IR: How do you do it?
WSP: How do you do it Ignasi?
IR: I try to be original and different in every picture I make. I do not like to imitate what is fashionable. I do not like to imitate the classics, but I am inspired a lot by them. My idea is that each photo is my style. Light, composition, and timing… these attributes represent the axis of my photography.
WSP: Thank you for this interview Ignasi.