Photographer Vicente Manssur gives classic film aesthetics and styles the needed contemporary feel through his intricate perspectives and angles of subjects. Vicente also seems to have a proficiency for color as he is able to bring out the natural tones while retaining the consistent, modern dreamy mood that's akin to 80's pastels. Whether it's a landscape, portrait, still life, or documentary, his calm compositions have playfulness in them with his subtle, colorful warmth. Know more about Vicente through this interview.
Firstly, welcome to Lomography Magazine, Vicente! How's your creative life so far in 2020?
Hi! Thanks for the invite. Creative life so far has had lots of ups and downs and a bit slower and interrupted compared to previous years. I haven't felt as motivated or rushed to create and produce as before. The uncertainty and chaos of this year is probably the cause of that, holding me back on doing projects and trips I had planned. However, despite all of that, I have really enjoyed the few projects I have worked on and I’ve been able to manage each detail going into them with a lot of calmer and attention. I have been able to dedicate more time to learn about postproduction and try out other photography processes that can be done from home. The number of references and mood boards I have worked on have also been of help for projects I will work on afterward.
When and how did you start with film photography?
I started with film photography 3 years ago, in 2017, out of curiosity and influenced by other photographers that already used it for their work. I think I got a little bit bored and lost the motivation to work on digital because I couldn't really get the images as I had planned in my head. I was overwhelmed by the constant editing in digital archives and started looking for something more simple and limited. I have always been drawn to photojournalism and street photography and the majority of the work I have seen was done on film years ago. I wanted to find that specific color, texture, and feeling of timelessness that film gives. I decided to give it a chance on my own and coincidentally was given a Canon AE1 as a gift. With this, I began taking pictures of my trips and day to day life. Since then I have been heavily involved in the analog process because of everything it has given me. It has kept me focused, interested, and entertained in learning and doing more.
We are so intrigued by your aesthetic for film. Can you give us more insight about this clean, yet textured look you have on your portraits?
It's the aesthetics that I am looking for and that I am so influenced by. I am into the elementary and natural scenarios seen from a documentary and spontaneous point of view. I try to keep my photos in harmony, not saturated with too many elements. I keep it all organized in my head even unconsciously. The simpler the better.
We really love how you capture various skin tones. What do you pay attention to most, to capture these faithfully while retaining your style?
This is tough for me. I am always asking myself if I am reproducing and displaying the correct tone and it is something that I've struggled with. I make sure it resembles the reality, that the tones feel and look natural, that they conserve the texture and color without any extreme alterations. For example, for portraits, I prefer soft light, it's nicer on skin, shadows, and just contrast in general. It's the kind of light I am most comfortable with when doing portraits because of the evenness it gives the skin.
If you don't mind sharing, what are your tools of the trade? Any favorite camera and film stock that you swear by?
For 35mm a Nikon FE2 y Nikon F3. Those are my main cameras for traveling, portraits, street or documentary photography. For medium format, a Mamiya C330 and Mamiya 645 AFDII. It's what I use for portrait and studio. I have also used them for trips and documentaries but it is a bit harder to carry around because of weight and size. My favorite film stocks are Ektar 100, Portra 400, and Ilford HP5.
You try out a lot of aesthetic styles, sometimes showing open sprockets and film frames. When do you usually decide these are best for the photo?
I include film borders and sprockets to get close to that feeling of archive and personal diary, to further express the fact that photography exists on a tiny piece of tangible plastic. It is a resource that I have used in photo coverages to represent a sequence or a process. I also find it aesthetically attractive.
For your portraiture -- what emotion or thought are you trying to evoke from people?
I like that people I shoot can feel comfortable and can express themselves freely, just the way they are. Each person functions in their own unique way and has different gestures and expressions from one another that are very spontaneous. There is a tiny moment in why that gesture says so much about someone and that's what I try to achieve. It takes some time until someone completely opens up and can forget that they are posing for a photo. When that happens, that is when you begin to find those unique poses and gestures I mention. I don't think I look for a specific emotion, just for a genuine one.
What inspires you to take pictures?
I am really inspired by seeing other people's work. I am a big fan of photo books, magazines, and zines. I enjoy finding new things and learning from other photographers' projects. Film and movies have also influenced me in many ways in looking for new ways to work and compose. It has served as a starting point to produce new photos based on ideas seen in a movie. Finally, leaving the city and traveling anywhere is a way of resetting and get inspired by other environments.
What are you up to these days?
Currently, I am not working on any projects because of the situation. I have been using my time to organize the work I did this past summer and deciding what to do with each. These past months I have been learning to work in the darkroom and it is something I want to get better at and keep improving. Later on, I will print a new zine with photos from 2019 and 2020.