People | 20 QUESTIONS

Photography: A journey of passion and joy

by Mio Yamada

Staff Writer

Name: Nico Perez
Age: 31
Nationality: British/Spanish
Occupation: Photographer/Visual artist: Instagram: @n_perez_
Likes: Passion, light, color, the journey of life
Dislikes: Negativity

1. Do you remember when you first picked up a camera? Actually I do. My dad bought me a small point-and-shoot film camera when I was probably around 11, but I wasn’t interested in it at all. It was put on a shelf somewhere and left there.

2. So when did you start taking photos?

I remember when I was 18 I felt like there was something more to me I had to discover. I had a real passion to express something in me, I had a lot of emotion. It was quite innocent — I was a boy trying to figure out life. It was around then that my dad gave me a basic Olympus OM body, and I loaded a black-and-white film into it. I took the camera with me everywhere; it became part of my body almost.

3. Was there a seminal moment when you knew this would be your career? I don’t think I ever experienced that. I’m on a journey of life, and photography met me along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to follow an expressive form in life, and I’m constantly learning. It’s a journey that allows me to see and experience life through color and light. We may be all looking at the same things but we’re not “seeing” the same things.

4. A lot of your work has a ethereal quality to it, why is that? That’s interesting because I’ve heard that a lot, I’m always looking for ways to express how I feel, but I feel that my photos will change and develop with me through life and at the end of it all they may show my journey. The photos I take in 10 years time could be very different to the photos I take now.

5. What’s the biggest faux pas you can make as a photographer? Thinking you’re the bees knees.

6. Instagram filters — good or bad? It’s just a phase — it will lead to other ways of learning. There will always be a faster way of getting results, though they may not always be the most genuine.

7. What about selfies? Now’s a time when people do this a lot — let them enjoy their faces. I mean they’re going to get old one day, right? If they want to celebrate their faces now, let them.

8. Do you take selfies? I don’t. In fact, I’m rarely in photos, I think because I’m normally the one taking them.

9. If you could photograph anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? I’d like to photograph a great artist, a great actor like Marlon Brando or an incredible human being like Nelson Mandela. I would sense the energy of that person, feel their presence, and see where we go with the camera.

10. You’re stranded on a desert island; which camera would you want with you? “The best camera is the one you have with you” — I feel that saying is relevant. I would probably be more interested in finding water and food, though.

11. Most beautiful place in Japan? There are so many beautiful places, but if I had to name one right now — Nagasaki. I thought it was wonderful, very charming.

12. What makes you go “ah, that’s perfect” when going through shots? I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought a photo of mine is perfect, but when a body of work begins to come together, I find it really exciting.

13. Which do you prefer, digital or film photography? Most of the work people see of mine is shot on film. It’s just a personal aesthetic; I love printing. When that bulb lights up in a darkroom and it shines through the negative onto a piece of light-sensitive paper, it’s a magical feeling. I get to use my hands to manipulate light — everything is physical, and that’s become a necessity to me. It’s more than just taking a photo, it’s how I print the photo — it’s a beautiful process. But I also love shooting on my phone and, if I have one with me, a compact digital. I love that immediacy, too.

14. What makes you laugh? Pure joy.

15. If you were not a photographer, what would you like to be? Hmm. … It would be something where I could express myself, an actor maybe. Being able to play music is a wonderful gift, too. Music is the quickest route to a person’s soul I think, it’s so immediate. Knowing myself, though, I think something inside of me could learn from acting. Actors and actresses have to be so strong inside to believe in what they are doing, I admire that.

16. The world would be a better place without what? Reality TV.

17. Do you ever take phone pictures of your food? Not really no, I want to eat it.

18. Has what you do influenced your lifestyle ? Oh absolutely. I’m constantly being influenced by photography and work. Sometimes life feels tough, other times it’s incredible, but I feel I learn the most from those tough times, I embrace it.

19. What’s the toughest thing about your work? Some people would say the unpredictability of one’s artistic path or life path. Not having scheduled work and income can be very stressful. But the feeling of joy and passion I get from what I do very quickly overrides such thoughts. I’m hungry for it, I feel lucky to have that.

20. Who would be the ideal person to create your portrait? One of my best friends, because hopefully they see the pieces in me that make me the person I am.