Born in Tarragona, Spain in 1991, David Molina Gadea studied Arts at the Massana School from 2009 to 2012, and started to work with local newspapers shortly after graduating. In 2015 he did voluntary work in several centres for asylum seekers in Belgium, where he shot a series called The Long Way home, which was published in BJP’s September 2016 issue. He reached the final in Burn Magazine’s Emergent Photographer Fund, and recently joined the Portuguese agency 4SEE.
BJP: How would you describe your style?
DMG: My work is documentary, so everything you see is what was truly going on. But when it comes to editing and sequencing the work, I try to build a less factual world where magic exists. That’s why some of the pictures are becoming more abstract, or I prefer to say ambiguous.
I’m becoming less interested in depicting the world of facts, and more interested in poetry, in a kind of emotional territory. In the end it is just about documenting the world around me, but documenting the poetic and emotional side of it.
BJP: Many of your images play with unusual lighting, can you say something about that?
DMG: I search for unusual lighting or ‘white noise’, something that creates a nightmarish atmosphere. But I also search for darkness, the ‘black mirror’, which also helps create this atmosphere. For me it is amazing how a very regular, commonplace scene becomes something else, through the lens and eye of the photographer.
But I think the most important process is the editing. That’s where you can really convey the complexity of a subject or a story.
DMG: A few months ago I was invited to join a two-day workshop with Ricky Dávila at a new little festival in Barcelona, La nuu. Ricky commented that everything I do comes from the same core, that even if I’m doing a documentary project, I end up talking about the same thing. He suggested I try mixing everything in a single body of work and that turned out to be unblocking advice for me, allowing me to approach photography in a more personal, honest way.
Once I started mixing up images from the last four years, showing home, friends and family, trips around several countries, and various other things, I realised I was turning the reconstruction of a memory into a brutal fiction. All the cities became one single town, and my friends and relatives became strangers. Within the sequence of the book, reality became just an anecdote, everything became something else. By building up this fiction, I’m able to convey real emotions, about home, love and loss.
BJP: Why do you want to publish a book?
DMG: I want to create a narrative, to make something you can read. If photography is a language, a photobook is the ultimate narrative tool, I believe, because in addition to putting photographs together and creating a sequence, you offer a way of reading, via the design and layout of the book. The result creates the best way I can imagine of understanding photography and its undisclosed messages.
BJP: How did you get into photography?
DMG: My grandmother told me that when I was a kid I used to cut out peoples’ faces in her magazines, ruining them but keeping the cut-outs. I don’t remember that, but it seems like a nice way to get into photography. I do remember that my mother used to take pictures with a Canon AE1, and I thought it was a great machine.
Later on I started collecting friends’ pictures and interesting images I found online, as I had no money to get a camera myself. That’s how I first found work by classic photographers such as Daido Moriyama, Anders Petersen or Alberto García Alix. Then someone lent me a camera, and the rest is history.
BJP: Which photographers do you admire?
DMG: Right now I really, really admire Kikuji Kawada. Apart from his classic book The Map, I’m amazed by his series The Last Cosmology, a very magical body of work that somehow makes me understand photography differently, and the struggle and time it takes to make a successful body of work.
But I admire many others too – JH Engstrom, Michael Ackerman, I like the Atonal collective and follow its photographers on Instagram. I don’t think I belong to a certain school though, maybe because I’ve always been a bit isolated as a photographer. I was first inspired by images I found on the internet, where everything is mixed up.
BJP: How do you support yourself?
That’s the not-sexy part of being a professional photographer – sometimes it is really difficult to support yourself, especially when you’re focusing on personal projects and not doing a lot of commercial or editorial work. I do some stuff in the electronic music scene in Barcelona, photographing producers like Flug (Sebastian Lopez) or Oscar Mulero in their nightclub gigs, and that’s becoming another personal project. Then I do survive by doing other stuff, such as working for the Sonar festival in Barcelona – not taking pictures but actually physically building its productions.
Nowadays if you really love photography, you have try to support yourself from other sources – there are more photographers than ever out there, and that makes the profession to be super-competitive. Also you might be doing a great body of work, that makes you love photography but that you can’t sell. You just have to keep working, and believe that your work will bear fruit one day.
To read the interview with David Molina Gadea on his series The Long Way Home first published in the September BJP, click here. www.davidmolina.eu