Rotondes inspires you Blanca
If you come to a concert here at Rotondes, chances are you’ll bump into Blanca and her camera. When her job started to take up too much space in her life, she decided make room for live music and photography. There’s no going back now!
When did you figure out that photography was your thing?
I am still not sure that photography is my thing. I am not a professional photographer, I certainly enjoy taking pictures but I have many other interests. When I was growing up, if I ever pictured myself doing something creative I always thought about writing. I was an avid reader.
I became interested in photography when I was a teenager. My father handed me his old Kodak Retina, a handwritten table with some numbers on it and a handheld photometer. He explained the basic technical principles to me and then he said: “If you learn with this camera you will learn everything the right way”. I played around a little bit for some years but I was not obsessed with it. At university I became more interested in photography again and bought a Pentax K1000. I went around taking pictures with friends and I took some courses. By that time digital photography started to be a thing and my job was quite demanding so I stopped taking pictures except for holiday snapshots. I was a holiday compact-camera photographer for many years.
In 2015 I felt like I needed to wind down after work so I started going to many more concerts. When I was at the Capital Sounds festival here in Rotondes, someone mentioned he needed a photographer to go to a festival in Berlin and be in the pit to shoot some pictures for their blog. I thought to myself: “How cool must that be to be able to do that!” I got myself a new Pentax, digital this time, and I took some courses again. I started taking more pictures at concerts, with a smaller camera. With a phone it is very difficult to get a half decent photo.
What’s the most difficult thing to capture at concerts?
Concert photography has its technical challenges: low light, high contrast, subjects moving a lot, lots of fog. Plus, being a non-pressional also means you don’t have a professional camera nor a granted access to first row. You can overcome some of these challenges with lots of practice and post-processing.
The most difficult thing is to identify and capture the high peaks of emotion that happen during a concert. There’s a lot of not-so-exciting moments and they are just a few seconds away from the interesting ones so you need to pay attention to the music and the lights and the musicians to shoot when it happens. Two seconds later the picture may not be so interesting. I look at the professionals in the venue: how they place themselves and how they take pictures. I look at their photos online. I learn from them.
In general I like to capture moments that express a feeling. A good picture shows the essence of the subject. I am a big fan of candid pictures.
© Blanca Ortiz de Pablo
What makes you decide you want to take pictures at a particular event?
I am always taking pictures, but not always with the camera! Sometimes they are only in my mind. Among the reasons not to take the camera out: there are days when I want to concentrate on the music. If the light is bad, if the venue is too crowded or if I am with friends and I want to enjoy the moment I may refrain from taking pictures as well. And sometimes I am just too tired.
We’ve seen you at quite a few concerts here at Rotondes. Any favourites?
BODEGA. Everything Everything. Daughters. Protomartyr. Kikagaku Moyo, just to name a few. But in general I like pretty much everything on the program, you guys have a very good eye – or rather ear – for selecting the artists. And it has influenced the kind music I listen to a great deal. Even if I don’t always come to the concerts I give the bands on the program a listen.
I have always enjoyed music but I have not always had the time nor the money to go to many concerts. For many years in my life I was working a lot and not keeping up to date with music. But now I couldn’t go back to being like that anymore, I need my live music. Some venues, Rotondes in particular, are at walking distance from where I live so what better way to spend the evening than attending a live show? Much more exciting than watching Netflix at home!
© Blanca Ortiz de Pablo
Do you remember the first time you came to Rotondes?
Lydia Ainsworth in 2015. Rotondes was still in Hollerich, and the concert venue was still called Exit07. I didn’t like her that much, but the next one, Glass Animals, was f***ing amazing.
You get access to the front row of a concert by an artist (dead or alive) or band of your choice (in activity or split-up). Who do you pick and why?
A front row access to a concert of the Irish band And So I watch You From Afar while they’re playing their song ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ would be an amazing experience to have again. It is a favourite song of mine. It would be great to watch them from close range. Pun intended.