The Petzval 80.5 f/1.9 MKII Art Lens is well known for its wide range of beautiful bokeh effects. This lens allows photographers to capture vintage aesthetics using contemporary SLR cameras. In his trial with the Petzval, the Fine Arts photographer Frank Diamond has achieved wonderful results. Check out the interview and see his photographs below!
Hello Frank! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, it is a pleasure to be able to do this interview for Lomography. My name is Francisco Ibarz Alcaraz, even if people know me as Frank Diamond, which is my artistic name. I am 33 years old and I'm a Fine Arts photographer based in Fraga, a town in the province of Huesca in Spain. I have been in the world of photography for 12 years and I specialize in photomontage.
I have been interviewed by diverse media such as Adobe Photoshop, El País, Cultura Inquieta, DNG Photo Magazine, Neo2 Magazine, Digital SLR Photography Magazine, Kluid Magazine, etc...At the moment I'm represented by an art gallery in Barcelona and I'm selling my artwork through my website or through the gallery.
Tell us a bit about your experience in photography. When did you start taking photographs?
Since I was very young, I was a really creative child and I had a lot of imagination. I contemplated life in a melancholic way with certain sensitivity. Probably I paid attention to details that other kids around me didn't perceive in the same way I did.
A sad song, a rainy day, a film with tragic ending. All those details stocked up on my mind and I projected them creating characters and places through drawings. Little by little I started to develop my artistic abilities and I decided to paint in oil, even if I never imagined that what would really make me grow as an artist would be photography. When I was 18 years old, a friend of mine started to take photographs of me and that was when I started to pose as an amateur model for other photographers. I was actually very interested in observing the photographs and being able to observe the textures and the different styles that could be achieved with a camera and a little bit of editing.
All that world really caught my attention, until I decided to buy a camera and start experimenting. All those photographers that had taken pictures of me made me able to have a minimum knowledge of photography.
When I was 21, I started to photograph models as I was more into fashion photography. But after that period, I got started in self-portraits, to be able to express everything that I once did through drawings. Until I finally ended up photographing other people, to be able to have the total control of the scene and maybe as armour against the world. And that's how I got to photomontage, a style that helps me represent my emotions and magical scenarios, where limits don't exist.
Most of your photographs portray women in different surreal scenarios, full of drama and melancholy. Can you tell us the meaning behind this and how this project started?
I remembered those movies of love and drama, where characters situated in past periods appeared and all that stirred me and made me vulnerable, but it inspired me a lot. I use women in my photographs because it is much easier for me to represent the romanticism and dramatism in the scenes. I always thought that the female character had more weight in the scenery or at least it felt that way.
My photography is part of me, a diary without locks, opened for any person that can graphically read or decipher my fears and insecurities. That is what I show in my photographs, a vulnerable part, although often full of mystery. A great deal of my work is represented in an unconscious way. Even if it is previously elaborated, I think that a feeling or an action can't always be prevented or controlled. With art it occurs the same: sometimes you don't know why you did it in one way or another, but you know it has a meaning or you discover it with time.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Years ago I thought that my only source of inspiration came from music and movies, but over the years I have realized that self-inspiration exists. I discovered in an involuntary way that I inspire myself. It sounds a bit strange, but I realized it after one year of not taking photographs and without consuming art. At that moment I realized that even if I wasn't taking photographs or finding references, my mind was still creating. I didn't need to watch or listen to something to be able to create, I only had to listen inside of me, to express how I was feeling and simply draw. Using yourself as inspiration is more than having a big ego. Perhaps I perceive it as an exercise of introspection that helps me connect with myself and to know myself better. I know that I don't have to create or take photographs every day, since a brilliant idea or brilliant projects are not premeditated, they are not a daily training, they just arise when the moment arrives.
And what do you think most influenced the aesthetics of your photography?
Without any doubt, my period as a someone who draws and later my beginnings as an oil painter were the cause of my current style of photography. My technique was a circumstance that arose without premeditation and developed a peculiar and striking aesthetic. I think it's definitely one of the most brilliant things I've ever done in my life. To create my own style as an artist and that people know how to recognize your photographs.
Can you share with our readers the process behind a typical shooting day? How do you explore locations, props, models, etc?
Well, the truth is that the process fascinates me, and over the years I have learned to value it more. This is probably because the more adult you become, the more you learn to appreciate the small details and you are not that impatient. Years ago I was in a hurry and I just wanted to finish the shoot so I could lock myself in my room with piano music, a little incense and hours of editing. Now I am much more conscious. I take my time to create my projects and let them mature as long as necessary.
The first thing I do before creating a photograph or a project is to have a clear idea of what I want to represent. To carry this out I take paper and pencil and describe the idea that is in my head – mainly feelings, emotions, or I lay out a situation. Once I have the exact words, I create a story with them and I look for objects that represent those words. I draw a sketch with the objects and add a character to interact with them. Finally, once I have the sketch, I decide wardrobe, props and location, I write everything down in a notebook and sometimes I go to the location where we are going to take the photos so I can check that it is a good place and that I have everything clear. A detail that I never forget and I have the habit of doing, is to check the weather in order to avoid rain or any mishap that could ruin the photo shoot.
These wonderful photographs were taken with our Petzval 80.5 Art Lens. Which features impressed you the most?
The truth is that I'm still surprised! I am very happy that you like the pictures we were able to take with your lens. It has become a challenge, because considering the purpose of this lens, I did not conceive the idea of being able to make a photomontage, but I focused more on portrait photography, taking advantage of the brightness of this lens and the type of blur. I am fascinated by the bokeh achieved using this lens. I am really surprised and in love! Without a doubt I recommend it 100% for both portrait and fine art photography.
Which camera did you use?
I used my old camera, a Nikon D300, as the colors I get with this camera fascinate me despite being many years old. I currently work with a Nikon D800.
Would you ever use AI to create your artwork?
I am in favor of taking advantage of technology and adapting to the future, but a future without essence or human involvement would be an empty world.
I have a very clear answer to this question, I would use AI to create elements in my photomontages because sometimes it is difficult to find or create your own resources. But in no case would I create works with AI, because then my contribution would be meaningless. I would feel empty and I would stop creating, because precisely what motivates me to continue creating is to put a little bit of myself in each photograph. An AI will be able to achieve perfection and that is precisely the opposite of what me and my works are.
Do you have any interesting projects or collaborations planned?
I am working on new projects that include mixed techniques, printed photographs and oil intervention. I am currently working on my new project "Circus", a traveling circus that shows the fear of clowns and that starts in childhood. Somehow my photography always takes me back to the beginning of existence. I constantly work on fear and try to understand it or at least observe it and try to overcome it. This project is proving to be a great challenge both financially and physically. We have created a traveling circus out of nothing, with several characters and a unique scenography. All this with the help of my friends and people who bet on me. The truth is that I feel very fortunate and grateful. It really is incredible everything we have built so far and we hope to have it completed in 2023. The project will be presented at the Artevistas Gallery in Barcelona. We still do not have a confirmed date, but it is likely that the presentation will be from 2024.