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Interviews

Sebas Romero | Behind the Lens

Sebas Romero is a world famous photographer and is also part of the Blackmedia crew. He has a keen eye for capturing things in different and interesting ways, and pushes the boundaries of what we see in MTB media… and he has a lot of interesting stuff to say.

DIRT ISSUE 145 – MARCH 2014

Words by Ben Winder. Photos by Sebas Romero

Looking at MTB films I love seeing good composition, interesting shots and an attention to detail, such as colour, focus and character. I’m interested in a well–told story and something that makes me want to jump on my bike right away and go for a ride.

Capturing the moment versus art? For me they are two different things, trying to compare them won’t get you anywhere… each one serves its purpose and I think they are enjoyed by different audiences or the mood a person is in. Some days I like to watch tricks, others I want to watch a story about journeys.

The relationship between photography, written word and filmmaking is strange. I believe a good idea comes from a thought, and then it’s verbalized and written down, then taken to film stills and from there to movement. If up and coming directors are not concerned about understanding this process the final product will suffer. They will end up with a craft and not art.

Anybody can call themself a filmmaker, and there is no problem with that. I don’t think you have to do a minimum amount of hours to feel like a filmmaker or to be a director. The same for photography. When can you be called a photographer? When you get paid for it? When you buy gear worth more than €10,000? That’s f–king rubbish. I felt like a photographer when I was eight years old shooting with my pocket camera!

You have to look for inspiration in other places. It’s essential to look beyond your own little world. I like a lot of photographers who are not part of sports… Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Martin Parr and Terry Richardson. Within the sports sector I have always liked Atiba Jefferson’s perspective, and I also admire the work of Sven Martin and Boris Beyer.

In my early adolescence I spent all day on the streets with my skateboard, back then I wasted my days, until I discovered museums. That’s when I learnt to enjoy classic painting and the way the old masters described scenes. There was a very simple interface, they painted very complex scenes and used light spots in order to direct our attention within the composition. That’s when I thought that in order to achieve the same I had to use flashes. This way I can easily direct the viewer to the point of interest in each photo.

You don’t need a super expensive camera. I have won the FAN award three times using a second–hand €100 camera. I’m a punk, my philosophy is DIY. I don’t believe in all that bullshit about mega–pixels and stuff. For example the whole film industry was spending millions on blockbusters, then along come people like David Lynch who created masterpieces with broken and discontinued VHS cameras. Then the film industry copies these aesthetics and integrated them into their blockbusters, but instead they add these effects via computers and super cameras.

I don’t believe quantity equals quality. The technical tools facilitate the process but don’t create it. Right now many guys are filming with Red or F700 cameras in RAW and 4K and then forget to retouch the colour and they all seem that they are from the same director of photography. I think it’s sad.

I think the latest MTB films are on the right track, combining high quality and powerful storylines in one clip is great. Thanks to guys like Clay Porter the standard is higher and pushes others to get better.

Personally I believe the MTB video industry should go in the same direction as in surf. It would be wonderful if brands would understand how simple, beautiful and universal this sport is. I find it very similar to surf, something that can be understood in any culture, it’s environmentally friendly, and the tremendous potential of practicing this sport anywhere on this planet. So, let’s travel and shoot wherever.

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