Nowadays, it's easy to get stuck in a creative loop. Formulas, when used correctly make for interesting content but when overdone gets bland all too easily. That's not the case with Rafael Gonzalez and his impressive portfolio of black-and-white work. He'd cast the mold that lets him create his impeccably composed shots and shatters it only to take photographs with fresh eyes. Rafael shows that there's more to his work than just skate photographs and we wouldn't mind seeing more of him in the coming years.
Rafael has a great eye for unique visuals and engaging frames. He knows what to look for and trusts his gut when the right moment to hit the shutter comes. The result of this developed style and shooting technique is a mixture of architectural compositions and dynamic action shots that complement each other. One is rigid in structure and the other, free-flowing.
Hello, Rafael and welcome to the Online Magazine! What do you do and what keeps you shooting with film?
Hi there and thanks for having me. I'm a photographer currently based in Panama City, Panama. What keeps me shooting on film I'd say is all the process involved, from the extra thinking when framing a photo, to the developing, scanning and printing. Also because of the aesthetics and grainy/contrasty mood I get with it that allows me to express what I see on my day-to-day.
We love how consistent your photographic style is. The mix of intense action shots and the contrast and mood of monochrome is just stunning. How did you develop this style? How did you make it your own?
Many thanks! I guess it's just my personal vision of two of the things that inspire me the most, cities and skateboarding. It didn't happen overnight obviously, a lot of trial and error was involved, experimenting with different film stocks/developing formulas, camera formats, travels, books, movies, etc. all helped on finding my style along the way.
Being a skater yourself, your photos reflect how deep you are into your work. Why choose skate photography as your main genre? We also love how creative you can get with angles and perspectives. What do you look for in a frame before you take the shot?
I wouldn't say skate photography is my main genre but definitely is one of the subjects that inspire me the most, not just the fact of capturing the tricks but also what happens during a skate session, let's say the “in between” moments, environments, etc. Some of the elements I focus when shooting photos are lightning/shadows, geometry, patterns and textures.
Let's talk about gear. What is your favorite camera + film + lens combo? What made you love it?
I'd say both the Hasselblad 500C/M (80 mm Planar) and Leica M6 (50 mm Summicron) + Ilford HP5 Plus, I love these cameras because of their precision and how solid they are, its mechanical accuracy, the fact you don't need to worry about not being able to use them because of dead batteries, and the glass in both is top-notch!
Do you think gear matters when it comes to putting out creative content?
I think it doesn't matter because nowadays you can shoot/film with your phone with decent quality (even 4k), it only matters if you're looking for a specific result or are working under certain environmental condition.
Do you have new projects in the works? Please share them with our readers.
Yes, I actually have a couple of projects in the works, one of them is the third issue of a journal/magazine project called Interstate. It's a film-based skate culture magazine I'm doing with a friend, printed in limited runs (check it on IG and stay tuned for when it comes out), and also I'm working on a personal short film project all shot on 16 mm.
What does a perfect day look like for you?
Skating around the city on a sunny day, shooting photos, and having a good time with my friends/family.
Any last words for our readers?
Shoot what you like (a lot), enjoy the process, and stay inspired!
We would like to thank Rafael for letting us feature his work in the Magazine. Follow him on Instagram to see where his film camera and skateboard takes him next.