Observing, distilling and capturing the human form is one of photography’s greatest challenges. Manuel Soria, however, achieves exactly this through his favoured analogue medium.
Film is the foundation on which he started taking pictures, and the constant playing around with texture, contrast and colour makes it an incredibly rewarding format. It’s plain to see how his photographs take on a special depth, “entwined with the moment at which they were taken”. The special mystique that arises from still using the same camera his mother gave him gives rise to emotionally profound images, stimulated by the same smells and sounds that make his tool so familiar.
The beautiful intimacy that Manuel conveys throughout his work is rooted, he tells us, in a real-world difficulty of getting close to people and breaking the ice with them. He notes that as a result, “photography is a way that allows me to overcome that and approach them”. The camera allows him to take on the “role of the photographer”, allowing him to interact with his subject and show something beyond what you can just see; “a gesture or a look that awakens some story”.
Past experience in film and cinema has taught Manuel how to really look at an image, and how to handle artificial and natural light, evidencing his versatility with different skin colours, surroundings and times of day. Nevertheless, the clarity of his photographs belies his ethos – rather it is the margin of error that exists in working with film that excites him: ‘overlaps, scratches and lint become elements that redefine each photograph, and always for the better’.
An intriguing work process that involves meeting photographic subjects a number of times, in order to generate a naturalness in their relationship, has so far produced extraordinarily beautiful images. As Manuel says, “if we don’t have that mutual understanding, I can hardly capture it in a picture”.