Individualism was a photographic project that I started in Summer 2020 A.K.A. Covid year zero. It was a project that came to me by watching the pictures I shot rather than a preconceived idea, then I pulled the thread to see what it could become.
Here are the first images I shot and an article I wrote here about them. It could be said that the opportunity to write an article about this set of images made me think and further develop the project, so thanks 35mmc for this great platform.
The main idea of this project is to make a metaphor about the fragility and humanity of the individual in contrast with a harsh environment. Covid changed my perspective about society, governments and capitalism. Suddenly I could watch the true face of a selfish and fearful society, driven by a fake news infested media, and the crush of every single bit of debate that questioned the official narrative. It made me a more thoughtful person and also made me realize that, as individuals, ourselves are the only thing we truly possess.
After I wrote that article and received great feedback from the readers, I narrowed the aesthetics a bit. I shot the following images on Hp5 and on my Hasselblad 500CM. I like the square format on this images because I can center the subject and make a simple and minimalist composition thanks to the format. Putting the subject on the middle of the the photograph highlights the human presence, alone, on the environment and dignifies its presence.
I was quite happy when those pictures were featured by @shootfilmmag
I kept on exploring the idea with a third shot. This time I used a Hasselblad 203FE and the Zeiss 110mm F2, which gave me the opportunity to create such a dreamy look. The look of an individual, kept on its self made bubble for protection, where the environments melts away.
The idea of individualism is still in my mind, since the world has not become a better place in these two years anyway. It is still mutating on every shooting related to this concept that I make. The previous aesthetic idea that every photo must be square and black and white was constraining the project so it was left off.
It’s good to have some visual uniformity, but It’s also a bit of a buzzkill sometimes. You never know when you’re gonna get in the mood or find a really good landscape for a shoot like this, so I tried being more flexible on that area. Since then I have shot pictures that I feel that belong to this project on 35mm, 6×7, black and white, or color film. Whatever I had in hand.
What I found is that the visual unity comes from different elements than just composition or film choice, which in my opinion makes the project more personal. The project also gets more diverse in form of shapes and formats and it also gets more prolific, as you can shoot a couple of pictures “individualism” related somewhere and then move on.
For example these last images images were shot on various trips to the Canary Islands, these islands have a volcanic origin, the moon-like landscapes help transmitting the idea of loneliness, disconfort and abandonment, so I shoot a few pictures while driving by.
As you might have noticed, in every picture the model is my partner in life. This project is also becoming a reflection, or a metaphor, on who she is in the world, how I see her struggle in the day to day life, and how she’s evolving. I can also feel her energy and her ups and downs on these photographs.
This is probably my most personal collection of photos, hope you like them, let me know your thoughts on the comments. I also would like to encourage all photographers to start working on personal stuff, it’s a great way to grow as photographer, to stimulate inner reflection and to explore photography as a way to express ideas.
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7 thoughts on “New Individualism – the Evolution of a Photo Project – By Pablo Garcia”
Really nice. Reminds me of the isolation and self reflection covid brought us. Much admiration for your technical skills using medium format. Great compositions as well. I know it’s a lot of work shooting medium format. It was worth it!
Very cool Pablo; I think it’s a great idea, and I love projects. Here’s my immediate reaction on viewing and reading: I think the series works best in the images where your partner/the model is wearing the same clothes, is roughly the same scale and is facing the camera in different environments. The simplicity and repetition works really well I think. There is a real invitation to examine the model and the series for clues and intent. The juxtaposition of built and natural environments works well, and there is always the sense of an individual existing – struggling perhaps – in the world.
As soon as you introduce other things – interiors, nudes, different clothes and compositions – it all gets a bit messy. Sure I can see the rationale once you explain it, but I think what I like about the first series I mentioned (maybe it’s a “series within a series”) is that it is intriguing whether you know the story or not. For me that’s the test – the first lot work on their own and invite analysis and further thought. Anyway; great to see this and all the best as it continues… Thanks for sharing and good luck.
Thanks for your comment David!
You’re completely right, those images were the most visual, but once you get them you got to keep exploring the possibilities, even if it can (which I think they can’t) dilute or spoil the whole concept. Maybe those photos are a dead end not worth exploring, but there they are!
Again, thanks for your kind comment and good luck to you too!
Individualism = endless repetition?
Surely not endless, till our death, tops!
I do very much like what you´re showing! I like the idea of putting a human being into these harsh environments and having this air of vulnerabilty and tenderness as a contrast. The execution is flawless and the results are aesthetically pleasing. And let me get one thing out of the way – Not only could I not do better, I couldn´t do nearly as good, so please forgive when still I find there is one direction in which possibly improvement could be found – strangely enough, given the title, it is individuality. While of course your partner is a person of great beauty and undoubtedly posesses individuality and character in abundance, these qualities – to me – somehow don´t shine through in these photographs. Maybe this is down to her modelling experience – too much posing perhaps? The way she is being depicted doesn´t seem to show her genuienly reacting to or interacting with the surroundings. To me, personally, she is being shown here more or less posing for photography. Again to me that is more about delivering on people´s aesthetic expectations, which is in a way opposed to individualism. So maybe it would be worthwhile trying to be less professional, if that makes sense at all. Anyway, it´s just a thought and I´m happy to stand corrected if I got the intention of the photos wrong. Please keep posting, thanks, Stefan
Thanks for your comment and glad you like the photos.
Indeed, she’s a very experienced model and I do photography for a living, so our background on “professional” photography might surely be present on those images to some degree. For us maybe they look unposed and natural, although with a fashion background.
Anyway, if there would be a posing direction, it would be more like, “the world has tamed your spirit, you accept whatever is wrong, and you’re not complaining”, that’s the kind of individuality i’m trying to portray here, not the flaming, explosive personalities kind of individualism.
Again, thanks for the comment!