viernes, abril 15, 2011

sebas romero-punk rock photographer

Behind the Lens - Sebas Romero

(The following interview involves questions that were written in English and answered by a Punk Rock photographer in Spanish which was then translated into English by a German before being rewritten by myself into something that you can hopefully understand.)

Tell us a little bit about yourself, a lot of people here have never heard of you before.

Ha ha! I can imagine that! Luckily many people do not know anything about me! It is rare that I define myself, because it is easy to fall into the trap of creating a nice movie where you are the protagonist, hero, victim, and leader at the same time... What does it mean that I should tell the people who I am? I do not know what the hell I can say about myself, what is truth and what is lies? That is something that must be defined by others, my friends and enemies, all together I think. But if I am forced to say something about myself it is that I am a very, very, very shy person, I have been shy all my life, I am very introverted and anti-social, in fact I can't understand how I ended up having a job that exposes me so much. Perhaps I should have worked in a library or something like that, but life is rare, I am rare, I never do things that I don't like. I have always known that there was something more, but, I never knew what it was, but I knew it was there, waiting, that strange thing I can't define. It was another reality behind what they were saying to us, always I imagined that there were other ways to live without being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or a footballer. I felt I was different to the rest of the people in the school, I did not understand their jokes, their way of dressing and the music that they listened to... Always they said that I was a freak and now they like everything that I do. So I continue without understanding anything at all about myself and the world out there. I just continue doing what I like, traveling with my crew and just being in general. I cannot always speak the truth, because it is impossible, I cannot always be good, I think I am a complex space of feelings, lies, truths, tragedies and victories, like any other person, but with my style. Just that, all that. Every single day when I wake up in the morning I am trying to dominate the process of self-destruction that we are used to calling 'life', each day I try to control my own self-destruction and to carry it in the direction that I like. I call that shit 'catching the reins of your own life'.

When and how did you get into photography?

This is difficult to define, I've been involved in the world of the image since I have memory... I was looking at magazines before I knew how to read... graphic images, typography and beauty always caught my eye... then when I was around 13 years I decided at that point that I did not have much to do inside my house and I decided it was better to spend all day on the street with my skateboard. For nearly two decades skateboarding and punk rock gave me values that have made me who I am today, I appreciate having those roots, now I know the street and I can move in marginal environments having moved away from the mainstream. It was at that time when I bought a camera, influenced by the great photographers of the world of skateboarding, I remember Dave Swift's work and Atiba Jefferson's style and precision... I started experimenting with film, flashes, cables and my friends. It was a wonderful time where there wasn't even internet or the digital world and to learn things you had to go outside and try it by yourself. Now it's all instantaneous and easy, you can download whatever, tutorials, technical tricks, its wonderful, and u can read blogs from the best photographers in the world... On the other hand I find it very strange when people write to me asking how they can do what I do, I usually reply, but basically I think that many young people have dead curiosity and are not able to discover things for themselves. The reality is that we are living in times where technical barriers are gone, you can buy a computer and camera gear that lets you take good quality photos for very cheap, so I hope to see many new talented photographers, and not just rich kids with money to buy expensive cameras as it was before! I mean 15 years ago it was a photographer who bought the expensive cameras, now it's different. A photographer can be someone who does something amazing with the same camera you bought to take your holiday photos with... For me photography was a game where I have fed my anxiety to investigate, discover and ask questions about a million things. When I turned professional it was a natural process, there was never an option for me, I always knew I wanted to live doing something I love. When I was young I dedicated myself to graphic design and for some years I made a living doing that, then I grabbed the camera and for a time I was obsessed with that. Then I moved to Barcelona and I fell in love with this f*cking city and spent two years doing everything away from the picture! haha. But now I think that time that I wasn't taking photos was the most creative period of my life. I began to think about what I wanted to do with the camera, I was living in a very precarious way, on edge, I did any kind of rare things to live, I played guitar on the street for coins, I traveled all over Spain to sell rubbish, I met people from all walks of life. It was a time to find myself and know who I am. Only with a long distance can you get a perspective of who you are and I did it, I walked away as much as I could from my vocation, to find what I could, and I found that people are not their profession, people are people and nothing else. If you have a talent for something you enjoy doing then anything you do in life will be interesting and give you something positive. Going back to photography was very easy, I just grabbed a camera and starterd taking photos, with clear ideas and appreciating much more what I liked. I just did it, then things fell into place quickly, and thanks to many people who helped me I got my first contract and started to pay for my rent and food taking photos. I still remember the first 4 months as a professional photographer, my girlfriend recently left me, my heart was totally wasted, i felt empty, I was homeless, had nothing except my camera, had no money in the bank, no clothes... I still earned very little money and after the first 15 days of the month I survived by drinking water and eating rice with some coins found out on the street and in my pockets. I was very happy because the situation couldn't be worse, there was only one option, to go forward.. I felt I was on the track, with my feet on the ground, with my head held high and my fist clenched to strike a blow to those who were in my way.

Do you ride as well? (photo of Fabian Barel)

I try to when I have free time, which is almost never! I am lucky to live in Barcelona, you can go from downtown to the mountains on the subway in 10 minutes and you're at the top of a downhill track! I always had a DMR 24" to move through the city, it makes me happy to ride fast between cars, doing bunnys and manuals, it's all I can do with my age and my back, knees, ankles and hands that were destroyed by more than 15 years of skateboarding. Haha! But there's more! Apart from the DMR, the MONDRAKER guys have given me a Prototype SUMMUM which is incredible! I've never had a bike so good, I'm still very poor and if not for the Mondraker crew I could never have bought a bike like that! Last year I did a lot of DH runs and I can say I've started to go faster than I should! Haha! my friends laugh about me because I always go with my leather jacket and my Paul Frank sunglasses!! I know ... I'm weird! But if you laugh you can try to follow me and eat my dust f*cker!

How does riding influence your photos?

I think you don't need to be a Rider to take action pictures, it's like saying you have to be a model before turning to fashion photography! Or being a former footballer to go to the football field to take pictures! Haha! But it is good to know the tricks and have the feeling of what is the exact moment in which to press the shutter... It is simple respect for who you're photographing... It's like speaking the same language, understanding what that person is doing with all his heart, it's like riding beside the rider and saying "now !"... So I think if you know the tricks and the sport it helps a lot, you need to understand the sacrifice and how risky this is, to respect the rider and to try to have the photo as soon as possible without any unnecessary danger... To me that's the main thing, I have seen many broken bones in the last 20 years and I will not force anyone to do something they do not want to do. But speaking of photos, frame and aesthetics, the main thing is to have good visual culture, in fact I look more at classic art than sports photography!

You shoot a lot of portraits and studio stuff, do you enjoy the studio, do you have your own?

Yes! I love taking pictures of people with character, I like their look... I always try to photograph people like me, it teaches me new things... For me portraits are a relatively recent discovery, I spent 12 years photographing action and I only discovered this about 6 years ago and I love it, it offers me a thousand opportunities of aesthetic and absolute control of what I want. It's like painting a picture, my pictures are a personal interpretation of how I want my friends to be. Until now I haven't done a portrait of someone who does not like me, and I hope to continue like that! Studios? I have two, or three? Haha! In my office I have a very large one, in my house another, and I always carry my little ground flashes and umbrellas to jam anywhere. My camera is inseparable and indispensable, I like seeing the world through it, is my hiding place, my refuge, my trench.

Do your prefer shooting portraits or action?

Actually I have no preferences! They are both too different to choose one or the other, so I'll take both! Each is a different world, different worlds that I have not yet mastered. Every day I want to go further and take steps forward. only this...

You live in Barcelona and there are lot of great riders close by, does that make it easy?

That's true! It is very easy to do things when all your friends are special people! Imagine living in the same city with the Lacondeguy bros, Marc Coma, Nani Roma, Toni Bou, Jaime Alguersuari, Ivan Cervantes, Sergio Layos, Ruben Alcantara, Dani Pedrosa etc... It is very easy to do great things with a big impact on the media... Anyway I started taking pictures of my punk friends just for fun, the basis of what I learned from that time now continues to evolve on this basis and this does not mean that I only photograph PROS. I like the people and my friends, I think first of all people regardless of the goals they have! I mean they like me for who are behind the logos to carry on their t-shirts.

Do you have another job as well?

No, I just take pictures every day. Although sometimes I do layouts and make logos, I love typography and graphic design, in fact I think that with graphic design and aesthetics we're gonna save the world.

Tell me a bit about Addict?

Jaja, Addict is a very funny and strange! It is complicated to explain but I'll try... It began as a poster inside the MTB magazine 'SoloBici', apparently they liked the idea and the next month my editor gave me 8 pages to fill, the number rule one was not following any rules, so I called the Lacondeguy brothers and we made a very cute interview! Haha! It's been years and the project has been changing and today I focus on doing interviews with people I like.

Who do you like? Who has been in Addict?

For Addict I have had many top riders such as the Lakons, Cedric, Brendan, Kabanni, Yannick, Macaskill, etc... I am interested in the riders that can talk freely about anything they want, not censor anything, and I think this is one of the few magazines in the world of bikes that allows this. There have been many years of travel and some crazy stories full of adventures and hundreds of problems with the police at the airports and angry parents writing to my editor to have me fired! Haha! I think no one believes that a punkrocker can have a good job! But I think my editor (Paco) and my friend Alberto are two of the best guys I have ever met, they gave me this golden opportunity that has made me the way I want to be. They don't know how deeply their decision to call me has affected my life. They gave me everything I have right now. All my life I will be indebted to them and my respect for my crew is maximum. I could give my life for them without any kind of hesitation.

What about RockShit?

Rockshit started as a joke, I remember being with Andreu Lacondeguy on a plane, talking about what was cool, the clothes we had, it was a time when if you bought a shirt you were sentenced to wear a skull with machine guns and dollars in the chest! It was a very gangsta roll we did not understand or like, we hated that f*cking crap!! So we decided to make our own shirts, with messages that interested us, from that there came the "old school, new school, f*ck off school" which means our indifference to every rule imposed, any form of control, is something like: "Look, I do what I want and I don't give a shit what you think about me or my friends" People immediately became interested in the brand and we have received offers of all kinds to sell it. It's not clear yet what we'll do, in the summer we're gonna assemble an e-store, but you never know. I think we are interested in the idea of having a phantom brand that only exists between us and nobody can buy, it's our clothing, our Crew. Why we should sell it to people who do not know? And if a f*cking banker buys one of my shirts? and if a politician does? what can I do???? At the moment Rockshit is the name we put on our Crew, it is the name of our family, our name defines our way of life and our beliefs... Tomorrow you will see a motorcycle with that brand, or a guitar, or a tattoo studio by that name, that is our crew, you want it, okay, u got it if u are one of us, u can get it if u got a free soul, an open mind, only if u are a real guy. But next summer if you buy a Rockshit t-shirt you should know that if we see you down the street wearing one and you're a filthy posh we're gonna give you a beating and remove it. So careful what you buy motherf*cker!

The Lacondeguy's, you work with them a lot, tell me about it.

The Lacondeguy bros and I have been friends for years, we have emerged from among the dead together, nobody could have imagined that we would have success in life, and now we are giving it up the ass to people that doubted us. We have taken many turns and we're gonna be taking many more. With them it is very easy to work, we have the same character and always want to get to the bottom of things, we are hyperactive, disorganized, crazy and punks. Things among us emerge naturally, every conversation is a torrent of ideas and follies. Usually when we're together we ended up getting arrested without doing anything wrong, it's fun.

and WAF? How was that?

We Are Family began two years ago as a project that included several sports in the same film, the idea was to talk about it beyond you to go on bike, I skate and my colleague on a motorcycle, we share the same ideals, and way to live the life. we were always clear that the message is that the enemy is outside like a banker thinking how to f*ck our future, the enemy is a police fine for me to go with my skate while allowing the sellers of cocaine poisoning my friends and destroyed a youth generation. The enemy is the politician who steals from us, the army that invades countries ... if you go by bicycle, skate, surf, snowboard, etc are my brother, basically think like me and are doing something good for you. We Are Family is that, a film about sports in a deep way, it says without words that madness take risks and push the boundaries of our capabilities. Right now the feedback is amazing and we decided to create a 'gang' called 'BLACKMEDIA'. Its a creative crew, we are working with talented people, tattoo artists, drawers, filmmakers, photographers, fashion designers, stylists, designers, writers, etc.. We want to make it a creative crew with very special guys, we want to tell you what is hot and what is now and for this reason we are always looking for talented people, outsiders and punks like us.


Always been in our crew, tattoos usually mean things that you do not want to forget, most of my tattoos talk about women, fate and respect is everything in life. I carry in my chest the phrase "one day black, one day white" which says it all. My next three tattoos will be "stay free", "punk rocker till day i die" and "ACAB"

Anything else you want to say?

Yeah! Something for the kids who want to become professional photographers, "follow your heart!" just that. Think about how simple and deep that decision is. On one hand you are educated to pursue a certain ideal of success based on a mixture of religion, family, a big house and money, the idols are football players, prostitutes and corrupt politicians, a decadent ideal that you will never reach with your shitty graduate salary of philosophy, more like an ideal or a social project it's like a mental illness... I skipped all that and I worked quickly to be poor in my own way, without wasting my time in clubs or drugs. If you ask me what I want with all this, the answer is easy: I want what I have already, I live as I like, traveling and meeting cool people everywhere I go, without schedules, with no one that scratched me. That's the world and rules that I know. Have dreams too! Yeah right! One of these days I want to get out of bed and no one is in charge of all this, no flags or countries, no cops, I'd like to get people back to be ready and willing to survive as they can, like animals, with their own hands and ideas. I know it can be hard, but I do not care, I walk through f*cking hell and I never worry too much about that, I just follow my heart... I think we live in a time of comfort and well-being where the creativity and ambitions of young people are built within social networks, clubs and the stupid trends imposed by large corporations. It would be cool to go back to basics, I'd love to see them grow some marginal circles, I'd love to see young people organize a revolt and not just in the club only concerned to display their latest tattoo... Speaking of fashion I have very little to say, my speech about that does not fit with preconceived ideas, I see fashion as any job, being a photographer is overrated and romanticized, fortunately I think people are not your job and so I have many friends with very different professions. In fact thinking that frees me so that if everything goes to hell it doesn't depress me and I'll go to the streets to do what it takes to survive, so if you ask me about this subject all I have to say is that people are people and nothing else. So if you see me on the street tell me your name before "Hello, I'm a stylist" Beauty is something else, something that I don't have because I'm ugly and that's why I'm obsessed, I'm addicted to it and I just want to photograph it, following my own instincts, the most primitive and brutal instincts, without any method, without any excuses. The only thing that about myself is that I know nothing and I do not care about that. I'm a punk rocker till the day I die.

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