Five years ago David Gaberle went through “a really rough time” after moving to London. A friend suggested he pick up a camera to help process his experience, and he found that photography “really eases the experience of the sensory overload that comes with living in a big city”.
By 2015 he was ready to embark on an ambitious new project inspired by this work, and invested all his savings in travelling to the world’s biggest cities to shoot them. On the move for eight months and changing location every few weeks, he covered over 3600km. “The constant search was the happiest time of my life,” he says.
Originally from the Czech Republic, Gaberle studied anthropology back home and has a researcher’s perspective on the modern metropolis. “In the big cities, people spend less time with other people which means they have more time to become different, developing themselves,” he says. “There are more interesting personalities in the cities.”
At the same time, though, he finds big cities can be “really dehumanising”, because “they have an effect on how the people treat each other”. Fortunately on his travels he was pleasantly surprised by those he met, and says the experience “reinstated my trust in people”.
“I think that’s one of the benefits of travelling for me,” he adds. “I lose that trust easily when I just read the news and don’t talk to people.”
And really work it did, because Gaberle managed to get positive recommendations from high profile industry heavyweights such as Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert, VII co-founder Antonin Kratochvil and publisher Michael Mack. Kratochvil went on camera to declare that he “fell in love with this work”, for example, and Mack stated that it is “a very well-constructed book”. Unsurprisingly, Gaberle reached his Kickstarter target, and Metropolight was published in April.
He now has two new projects in mind, one of which will be shot in Prague. “It will be challenging for me to shoot the place that I know,” he says, “and that I am used to, visually”.