Congratulations on winning 1st place in the Arts & Culture category of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. Tell us more about your winning image, ‘Quetzacoatl’
I started shooting street performers two years ago whilst strolling around town with our then toddler. Once, on the outskirts of town, I saw these artists working on a big wall. The artist in the photo had not noticed me until I shot this image; lucky timing –it’s all luck as Cartier-Bresson used to say.
The artist is named Luis Gerardo Barcenas Gonzales (Raptor). I recently interviewed him for my blog hoping to give him more exposure. He is 19 years old and produces hyper-realistic murals. He admires Goya, Monet, Belin and Madc.
What is your background? How did you get into photography?
My parents gave me a keychain 110 film camera for my 8th birthday and I began to make photos on vacations when camping as a boy scout; but I didn’t take photography too seriously, not even in graphic design school.
It was not until I worked in the Tourism Ministry of Queretaro a few years ago that my interest was fostered thanks to Jacobo Zanella, who gave me small assignments and the opportunity to direct a few photographers. Since then I have been very interested in documentary and travel photography.
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
Photography is an amazingly versatile tool and although my current boss is a great studio photographer I’m not interested in staged images; what really excites me about photography is capturing amazing realities for the world.
I’m inspired by the philosophy of Cartier-Bresson and the work of McCurry and Salgado but I’m not too zealous about unobtrusiveness. As the work of Arnold Newman shows: you can also get in contact with more intimate realities by being present.
Does being an art director at a graphic design studio affect the way you take photographs?
It has helped me understand storytelling and purpose in image making: you must make sure your images contain sufficient cues to help understand them and they must reveal something about the world: a tiny story perhaps. Pretty images are not enough. It has also educated my eyes. After some time in the trade you start instinctively knowing when something is in the right place.
Can you tell us about a current or future photographic project?
Since I was shortlisted for the Arts and Culture category I have been invited to shoot a few documentary style portraits by the Guatemalan illustrator Jessica Pérez Espinoza and Queretan graffiti artist Israel Rincón (Slepone). I’m also considering a small grant to document the St Michael Archangel celebrations of the Otomi communities in Toliman.
Right now I’m not embarked on any other project; I would love to do some travel photography. I’m quite keen to discover what new opportunities the Sony World Photography Awards open up for me.
© Hector Muñoz Huerta, Mexico, Winner, Open, Arts and Culture, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards