by Nacho Izquierdo
We spoke with the journalist and photographer specialized in travel, Rafa Pérez, who has done projects for the main publications in the field: National Geographic Travel, Geo, Viajar, Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveler. He is the author of several books on regions of Spain and has received journalism awards, such as the Mañé i Flaquer, the Pica d’Estate and the Flanders Journalism Award.
Are you a journalist and photographer or photographer and journalist? Is it journalism that makes you a photographer to cover a need or is it the other way around?
I work telling stories, therefore, journalism and photography are the tools I use to carry it out. The word and the image complement each other to build the story.
Could you say that you are a globetrotter because of travel photography?
Travel is ahead of my job, I understand travel as learning and an inexhaustible source of emotion. I am a curious, restless tourist who cannot travel without his camera or his notebook.
What are the factors that you take into account to develop a photographic project and decide on a destination?
The vast majority of my works come from commissions from different media, such as National Geographic Travel, Condé Nast Traveler or Viajar, among others. Also through Kamaleon, my production company, we help destinations around the world to develop photographic, editorial and video content, to help them in their promotional work.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable or had a problem in a country with another culture? Any anecdote that you can share?
No, never uncomfortable, I travel to places where tourism arrives and the problems are those derived from places with affluence, but not from insecurity.
Of all your projects, which one could stand out as the one that has given you the greatest personal and professional satisfaction?
There are works done in the north of Chilean Patagonia or on the sentimental landscapes of Joan Miró, which have been recognized with important prizes, they are two reports of which I am very proud. On the other hand, the commissions that give me the most satisfaction are those in which I can develop the themes as I like, having time to document and contributing the author’s style and vision. Right now I am working on a book about the world of wine and the landscapes of Terra Alta, with a whole year to see the evolution of the territory. What I have done so far I like a lot and it is for a large format book that will be published at the end of the year.
Among your works we can find great challenges such as photographing at more than 5,000 meters high on the Chimborazo glacier. Could you tell us if there is any subject that escapes you to be photographed or that you would like to carry out?
There are always topics that you want to continue working on, such as Morocco or Southeast Asia, places where I have advanced projects that I hope will end up becoming books one day.
Do you have any advice for young photography lovers who want to travel and take photos without spending a lot of money?
Doing an Interrail through Europe is a good way to travel on a budget, many Asian or South American countries are also very good to start with, because for us Europeans are cheaper destinations. From there, that they consume a lot of image, but not only photography, that they go to museums around the world to see important works of art (or consult them online), sculpture, cinema, literature, all of this will cement their visual culture, essential to take good pictures.
What do you carry in your backpack when preparing for a trip?
The photographic equipment, the notepad and some headphones to listen to music.
In your photography, color is the protagonist. What do you want to convey to us when you take a photo?
The idea is to convey some of the sensations I have had when taking the photograph, the warmth of the light, if it was cold or damp, a moment of joy. When you get that interaction with the viewer, you think that your effort has been worth it.
Any country that you can recommend for someone who is starting out in the world of photography?
Your neighborhood. If you manage to take good pictures in your closest environment, you can take them in any country in the world.
What equipment do you use?
For more than ten years I have exclusively used Fujifilm equipment, the X-T3 and X-T4 cameras and a wide range of lenses to be able to solve any type of assignment, from very bright fixed angles, to versatile f2.8 zoom lenses.
Fujifilm X-T1, X-T3, X-T4