- What does visual peacemaking mean to you?
Mass media is flooding the world with images of drama and problems, most of the time taken without the permission of the subject and telling stories that most of the time are subjugated to the market rules. We can not deny the widespread idea of “don’t leave the truth fuck a good headline” that nowadays rules the media.
Visual peacemaking means to me, to give the option to the people to tell their stories; to have the opportunity to show that side mass media never shows.
By showing only death (and problems) we instantly erase the other scenarios of the photographed people’s life: we never think about their good moments in their life, their hopes, their expectations. Peacemaking also means to show that part of their life and link them strongly to us.
- What motivates you to be a peacemaker?
On one hand, I feel more comfortable by listening to the people and making them understand why I’m taking pictures instead of shooting at them and make them feel uncomfortable and upset.
On the other hand, I would like to change prejudices and stereotypes since I consider them as an important barrier for the social development.
- Have you ever felt stereotyped?
Me? I have to bargain most of the prices everyday! (even for the water). When people see me with the camera they think I’m just another rich-western person who’s taking pictures of the adversities to earn some money. That’s why I prefer to start by talking and then take the camera.
And every time I go back to Europe and I talk to western people I see that most of them think that I’m living in the jungle without Internet, taking pics of lions or doing a missionary job. So, should I feel stereotyped?
- How does your camera get you to reflect on your world and your life?
I’ve never thought before that the photos I take could reflect on my life, but now I realize that they show the experiences I live. I love to mix with the local people and, after breaking the first interactional barrier, the camera starts to be the tool to get linked an interact with the people, and most of the times the tool to make you even invisible in a situation where you wouldn’t be accepted.
- What do you like to photograph best?
People, definitely, I love to document cultures. But I also like to photograph food and shoot for hotels!
- What technical aspect of photography do you find most challenging?
Not easy: Every day I realize I have to improve my skills on something new. But, what I find the most challenging is to find the best frame from the best angle (or at least to find something that doesn’t look terrible!)
- Is there a particular group you feel is misunderstood or stereotyped that you’d like to document common humanity amongst?
I think we are all misunderstood and stereotyped, but the problem comes when people suffer bad consequences from that. There are stories to tell about stereotypes everywhere and it’s in our hands to work to break them. I.e, Now I have proposed a photo exhibition in Senegal about the real situation of the crisis in Southern Europe in order to try to stop the idea about “el dorado” being there, a hope that makes them take the decision to emigrate by boat and risk their life. That is to break one stereotype that destroys thousands of lives.
- Do you have an idea worth sharing?
Most of the photographers don’t feel comfortable when someone is taking them a photo (we are afraid of a picture of us with our worst face being uploaded to Facebook and being tagged on it!!), so imagine how uncomfortable could feel the people you’re shooting. So please, talk to the people first.
Javier has studied Art Edition in Spain and has worked in the graphic and web design area as well as in fine arts reproduction with traditional methods: engraving, lithography, serigraphy, reprography…
In August 2006, he decided to leave his job in Spain and travel to Africa for discovering new cultures and different mentalities. He has lived in Ethiopia and Senegal, but also has travelled to Gambia, Djibouti and Morocco. In Ethiopia and Senegal he was working as a Spanish and IT teacher meanwhile he was involved in some projects like a volunteer, giving service in a prison, a centre of women with HIV/AIDS, children with problems, homeless… and he also has promoted some awareness projects in Africa and Europe.
He took advantage of living in Africa to get involved in some photographic projects, sharing his pics with NGOs and magazines and even had been hired to manage some photo journals.
At the end of 2009 he went back to Spain where he took part in some photo exhibitions and conferences about Africa. He is the co-organizator of the project “Women through the border”: a series of cultural activities that aim to bring the audience closer to the experience of a group of Senegalese women currently living in Spain. At the heart of the project is a photo exhibit that traces the routes these women have followed from in their home towns and cities in Senegal to the new homes they have made for themselves in Spain.
Currently, he is based in Senegal and running a marketing enterprise for hotels.
My Recent Activity
- I added: Back in Dakar
to Galleries on January 17, 2013
- I added: Ogote: the hand of the FGC in Ethiopia.
to Photo Stories on September 17, 2010
- I added: El Circo Abissinia
to Photo Stories on August 06, 2010
- I added: Una boda de una toubap en Senegal
to Photo Stories on July 26, 2010
- I added: Javi’s Portfolio
to Galleries on July 26, 2010
Currently based in Dakar (Senegal), ready for assignments in West Africa. Loving to work with tourism business and NGOs. Please, contact me directly for more information.