Rafael Gonzalez

Rafael Gonzalez

My Life in Analogue — Rafael Gonzalez explores the unique creative possibilities offered by different analogue formats.

When Rafael Gonzalez picked up his first analogue camera he was just looking for an easy way to help him document his travels. The camera was cheap and simple, but the experience got him hooked on every stage of the film process; from the click of the shutter to the rolls of exposed film, the darkroom chemicals and the finished prints. Since then, Rafael, from Panama City, has experimented with a number of formats – from Polaroid to 35mm to 4×5 sheet film – exploring the unique properties and different creative possibilities of each.

When and why did you start shooting pictures?
I started shooting photos eight years ago, more or less. I remember I was traveling at the time and decided to buy a cheap analogue camera to get some snapshots of my trip. I came back with a bunch of rolls to develop and I haven’t stopped since.

What is it you love about film photography?
I love shooting on film for many reasons; such as the textures, contrasts and the grainy mood. I like the diversity of formats which helps me to experiment with compositions and points of views. I also have to mention waiting to see what came out from the roll of film after shooting. Patience is a virtue!

What are you passionate about – interests, hobbies outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
I’m into skateboarding and traveling; both activities have definitely shaped/developed my style of photography. Both activities have taught me to see things in a different perspective, whether I’m cruising around in search of new spots or just traveling to a new city, they help me to stay inspired.

Who or what inspires your work? Any other photographers?
I’m inspired by cities and their surroundings, architecture, skateboarding, urban patterns, music… If I have to choose some photographers I’d mention Fred Mortagne a.k.a French Fred, Brian Gaberman, Josef Hoflehner, Christopher Thomas, the list goes on!

What do you do for a living and how does photography fit into your life?
I work for Vans and I do their marketing in Central America, so I have to shoot photos of the team riders, products, events, etc. It’s great because it gives me the chance to add new subjects to my portfolio. I also do some freelance stuff and sell some silver gelatin prints from time to time.

How do you share your work? Zines, books, exhibitions, blog etc? And what’s the editing process like for you? Are you trying to tell stories with your images? What are those stories?
I usually share my work on Tumblr (I try to update it on a daily basis) and social media also. Last year I made a photo-zine which was available in Costa Rica and New York and I’m planning to do another one this year, stay tuned!

The editing process is pretty traditional, I develop my own films and scan them at home, It’s way cheaper than sending to a lab, and also I really enjoy that chemical process. In my photographs I tend to document my surroundings and everyday life scenarios using different cameras/formats, from panoramic 35mm to 4×5 sheet film.

Are your photos staged/posed or documentary? Can you describe why you choose to shoot in this way?
My photos are documentary. I always carry a camera (or two) so I’m prepared to shoot what I see around me. I like it this way because it’s real, natural and spontaneous.

If you had to take one photo that summed up your view on life, what would it capture?
If I had to take one photo it could be a cityscape shot on Polaroid Type 55 (it’s going to be special and limited because that film is already discontinued), or maybe I could shoot a portrait of my family as recognition of their support over the years!

Check out more of Rafael’s work at his Tumblr.