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Photographing nature: “the romantic eye” of Guzman de Cespedes

The forlorn beauty and visual charm of ruins has generated a lot of interest throughout history and has been widely cited by the majority of historians, poets, philosophers and artists seeking to explore and document the state of out-of-the-ordinary, abandoned and neglected environments, in other words what we call the “sublime” character of the “romantic eye”. The Spanish photographer Guzman De Cespedes, who specialises in street and landscape photography, is able to bring these environments back to life to tell or invent stories through formal, even sensorial, analogies. In most cases, these are natural landscapes devoid of human presence or even ones which use this human presence as an inherent element in itself. In this way, to a certain extent, the inhabited character of the space become more humanised.

Guzman de Cespedes abandoned

@ Guzman de Cespedes

From his beginnings, he has revealed an interest in nature and an ability to find locations, having, at the same time, a growing passion for exploring abandoned sites, a theme widely addressed by “urbex” photography (urban exploration). One of his greatest references in this field is the photographer Brent Pearsono Dan Rave, although his way of working remains different. Indeed, Guzman De Cespedes practices what he himself calls, ironically, “ruralex photography”, in other words abandoned locations in natural or rural environments. According to him, “they have a special charm through their romanticism, mystery, history and above all when we find them in their “natural state”, without signs of vandalism”.

The poetry and sensorial strength of his scene-setting is due to the way in which he integrates a human presence (portrait) into nature (photos of landscape or street photos). The subject and context thus merge into one.

Guzman de Cespedes

@ Guzman de Cespedes

His passion for this medium comes from his attraction to the demands of technique with respect to video: the power to immortalise one moment, one message, one emotion in a single picture. With his adventurous spirit, he seeks to explore his environment, alone or accompanied (on a “photo road trip”), using a Pentax K1 which suits his needs perfectly. According to him, “there is a camera for every use and every photographer, beyond any brand fetishism”. 

Guzman de Cespedes road trip

@ Guzman de Cespedes

Guzman de Cespedes

@ Guzman de Cespedes

He recently began to run photography workshops during which he realised that he very much enjoyed helping other photographers progress. One piece of advice which he gives to any beginner is not to be afraid of using manual mode, to practise and above all to take advantage of it and move around a lot. For him, there are infinite possibilities for taking a photograph and one should not be limited to simply looking and remaining passive.

On the other hand, thanks to his taste for improvisation and chance, he explicitly boosts the natural aspect of his photos (natural poses, lively, non-artificial scene-setting) and reveals an attentive eye for details which are part of our daily lives but which, owing to their common and ordinary character, are ignored.  Guzman De Cespedes indulges in improvisation and finding formal play in the composition of pictures, as well as audacious interpretation and layout of angles and perspectives. The “new vision” which he initiates produces an original image free of all constraint, in other words a photograph which shows what is present but which the human is unable to perceive. It is a question of re-educating the eye and, in the case of Guzman De Cespedes, he does this in a free and unrestricted way. Furthermore, this allows him to stimulate his photographic creativity, allowing him to discover new places, always ready to immortalise the instant and fleeting moment.

Guzman de Cespedes

© Guzman de Cespedes

Guzman de Cespedes person in tunnel

© Guzman De Cespedes

05 Dec 2018 by Coral Nieto garcia

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