Interview with Chema Hernández
I was born in Salamanca, Spain in the early 60s. I studied Fine Arts at the university. Now I live in Oviedo with my wife and my two daughters, and work as a teacher in a high school teaching subjects related to art. My first moderately serious contact with photography was at the university in the 80s. At that time I was taking pictures in black and white and processing them in my own darkroom. I was particularly interested in documentary photography. I never stopped taking pictures, mainly on travel, although my main artistic activity was always painting. In 2008 I discovered contemporary street photography and since then it has become a very important creative resource for me.
Almost anywhere. At home, from the kitchen window, from my car, at work … and of course on the street. Any place is potentially suitable to extract an interesting image from it. I live in a small town where practicing street photography is a real challenge. I remember at first I was surprised when I saw again on the street someone who appeared in one of my photos. It no longer surprises me because it has become something usual. Extraordinary situations are rare and it seems that it is always just more of the same. I attempt to overcome these difficulties with imagination and expanding horizons, carrying often my camera with me and taking advantage of any opportunity that may arise. I try not to get stuck and explore different city areas, subjects or ways to compose the image. Experimenting is important to me.
I try to go out to shoot whenever I can, but I do not do it as often as I would like. I take advantage of the opportunities I have in my daily activities, both at home and elsewhere. For maximum concentration, to me it is important to photograph alone, although I also do it when I am with someone, mainly with my family. It is during these sessions alone when I enjoy it most and I can spend hours taking pictures. I’m much more active in spring and summer and when I travel. Anyway, even if I am not taking pictures, I’m thinking or reading about photography or following the work of others.
I prefer subjects related more to emotion and less to description. To do this I try to find poetic elements that suggest open interpretations to the viewer. I am also interested in images with high narrative content and where mystery is an important ingredient. The formal aspects of the image are very important to me. I look for clear compositions, sometimes minimalist, other times more baroque. I am also interested in decentered compositions where the negative space plays an important role and the main elements are distributed along the edges of the image. I use both color and black and white, depending on whether the color is an important element of the image or not. Eventually, my images are grouped in themes which have become long-term projects such as “Ciencias Naturales”, which has to do with the natural world around us, or “Crónicas del Micromundo”, a kind of family album. I am also working on others such as “Anomalía”, in which I include elements that break with the urban order, or a project about atypical postcards from where I live. I also work on joint projects with my colleagues at Vivo Collective.
I have always been interested in the world of image and creativity. I guess I feel the need to trigger my imagination. Photography is for me a medium to achieve this, as well as painting, drawing, or sculpture. Although each medium has its own language, all of them have in common the creative component, which is essential to me.