How the collaboration started
In a photographer’s life some periods are more quite then others but when a busy period comes it seems it can never end. I recently had one of those busy periods with three different shootings in three different countries (yes, I like traveling) and I couldn’t say no to photograph Colectivo Fango’s new work in progress Tribu while I had all this work already planned.
When I first met Manuel actor and member of Colectivo Fango was in the occasion of a private sharing of my new book Interferencias.
After looking at the book closely watching the images and reading the text different times Manuel says:
“this book is really strong and I totally agree with what you are saying with it!”…“man you are gonna like what we are working on for our next piece with Colectivo Fango”.
I said to him not to tell me more, that I wanted to work with them from the creation stages and I wanted to have an element of not knowing what I was going to see.
Making the shoot happening
Luck wanted that I was shooting in Spain before leaving for Bern in Switzerland and I had a free day before my flight: an occasion not to loose. I changed my train ticked jumped on an early train and arrived in the beautiful Alacalà de Henares (Unesco city).
Once arrived to the precious theatre Teatro Corral de Comedies de Alcalà (built in the sixteen century and still keeping its original structure) I introduced myself and I was told I could not enter the theatre: yes sometimes the wrong people receive you and you are not granted access to restricted areas.
As I like to arrive early to the shoot I simply sat outside and enjoyed a fresh drink keeping calm during a hot 37 degrees day. After only ten minuets Manuel rescues me apologising for the woman who received me who was not supposed to work there that day.
A visceral approach
We head straight to the theatre who hosts the Festival Clasicos de Alcala to finally meet all the members of Colectivo Fango. The team welcomed me in a nice way and we exchanged ideas around a typical Spanish lunch. To me it is very important to create a relationship of trust with the performers, especially in this case where they have been working together for several months on a very intimate and visceral piece and I am there to photograph this work in progress for the first time on a stage.
Saying that, I don’t take shortcuts and make clear from the beginning that I want to approach the shoot in a very visceral way. I will go on stage with them and shoot no matter which scene as close as possible if I want to. Seeing the similarities of Tribu with my book Interferencias I decide to show it to the actors which suddenly and happily for me found themselves inspired by it.
Inside the action
As mentioned I was going to photograph only a sharing of this work in progress of Tribu. I had to deal with tight time schedule and no possibilities of staging anything. I wanted the actor to fully be themselves when bringing some extracts of Tribu for the first time on stage. I decide not to interrupt any scene nor change any light and at the same time to take all the liberties I wanted on stage without interrupting their flow and their actions.
Photographing physical theatre is something very different that photographing classical theatre. It can get quite heated, water and soil were involved as well as a 95% of the scenes improvised. I really had to blend with the actors both in a physical and mental way, to try and predict the course of an action and to make clear movement choices myself: as a person on stage my choices would influence theirs and the course of the improvisation. A beautiful experience that brought me back to the time a was a dancer and performed in physical dance-theatre.
Inside my travelling bag: what gear I used for the shoot
To keep myself inside the action and very mobile I decided to use my 50mm 1.4 always on my Sony a7rII and to shoot uncompressed raw files which allows me to play with a great dynamic range in post-production. As I had the possibility and felt more comfortable I went closer and shot 24mm and 35mm. Last but not least I wanted some group shot to have more compression and use my Sigma 70-200 at a fixed focal of 135mm.
You cannot shoot twice the same image as this performance is so spontaneous that the same movement almost never happens again.