Interview | Street Photographer Jose Luis Gea Arques

Jose, you are a Spanish street photographer, could you please tell us a little about you?

I live in Orihuela, a small city situated in the south-east of Spain close to Alicante. I am an optician and have been a passionate amateur photographer since the late ‘80s, especially devoted to street photography.

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You shoot both film and digital is that right? What attracts you to each of them?

Yes, that is right. I shoot both film and digital. This is not a big deal for me, but I feel closer to film photography. When I got started in the ‘80s there was no digital. Besides, I have been collecting film cameras for more than 15 years.

I feel different sensations when I exhibit film or digital. Analogue photography makes me think much more about the photo and I feel relaxed about the work. Digital photography has shown me a new way of exhibiting, thinking and especially editing. Digital editing has been totally new for me. I like  both kinds of photography but I prefer analog photography as it has something that I cannot find in the New Technologies, from the camera to the film and the copy.

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Why do you shoot, what does photography bring in your life?

That is a good question. I think that I do photography because it makes me feel happy. I love capturing gestures and if possible emotions. Pictures have to have a soul, tell a story, if not they are simply clichés that repeat themselves endlessly. When I go out on the streets with my camera I totally forget everything that bothers me, and I like that. On the other hand, I share this hobby with my fellow photographers and other friends, and this is even more enriching.

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You seem to be attracted to shapes in the architecture that surrounds the people you photograph?

Well, on my website there is a section called “forms” in which I include pictures of people that relate to architecture in a natural way. This consists of trying to create harmony amongst people and geometric and architectural forms. I also include in “forms” the backlights or figures that are forms in themselves and more or less relate to the urban way. This is something I like but I keep it separated from pictures of people in their everyday life.

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How is it shooting street photography in Spain as opposed to other countries?

Street photography in Spain has a considerable and fast growing number of amateurs. There are some well-known groups, and some photographers that have an international reputation. Due to the Internet, I think that the tendencies and styles are already too globalised. That is the reason why there are no big differences. Big cities are not that different from others cities in the world, but in small towns and villages you can have very different landscapes that more reflect our Iberian culture. These landscapes can vary considerably, depending on the regions. 

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 Do you ever get in trouble photographing people? If people react badly to you taking their photo, what's your reaction?

I have not had problems with people who have sometimes asked me why I was taking pictures. On many occasions, I have had a conversation with the person in the photo, but I prefer to be unnoticed.  Smiling is always good but, above all, pretending that you have never taken the shot is better. Sometimes I have felt uncomfortable with a situation and I have preferred not taking the risk. Some other times I go for it without thinking too much. I like following my instinct although I admit that I am quite shy in comparison with some of my fellow photographers.

You are a founder of "Street Soul Photography", a global place for street lovers. It seems to be along the lines of what we do, great to see like minded people around! Tell us about it.

Street Soul Photography is a great project. We are a group of street photographers that complements personal photography with the idea of illustrating the Street in Spain and the other countries. Our work consists of showing other photographers’ work on our web platform. To do so, we interview professional photographers, as well as amateurs whose work is worth showing. We collaborate monthly with a magazine that is published in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries, and we also organise events when we can. All the photographers in the group come from the East of Spain, but we hope people from other regions will join us in the future. Apart from our website, we are on Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

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Could you tell us what is the most important advice you would give someone new to street photography?

My advice for someone who wants to get into this discipline is to be someone who enjoys taking pictures above all. One must like one’s work and become one’s first critic. It is important to know other people’s work, classic or modern, but if one creates one’s own style and believes in it, one will finish by enjoying it and will not depend on other people’s opinions. After all, you have to be yourself to be able to enjoy what you do.


Thanks very much Jose!

Please give Jose some love and visit his website, follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

All photos © Jose Luis Gea Arques