photographer

Photojournalism: Mules in La Rioja forests

Thursday May 16th, 2013 09:23 AM

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

We live in an age where we’re encouraged to think newer is better. This year’s camera / computer / car (insert your preference here) is better than last year’s, they tell us. So, once in a while, it’s nice to spend some time photographing a very traditional activity.

A team of loggers have been thinning a 40-year-old pine forest near Ezcaray, La Rioja. By taking down some of the trees, those left behind have more room to grow. But rather than dragging down the trunks with tractors they use mules. Using animals means they don’t have to carve new paths through the forest; mules’ hooves damage the mountain environment less than mechanical tracks.

The animals are trained to obey the voice commands of their handlers and watching them work as a team was a real privilege.

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fotografía en La Rioja, España. Foto de James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Spontaneity & Photography: Raquel & Fernando’s wedding, Hotel Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Friday March 1st, 2013 11:26 AM

Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
A couple of months ago I wrote about the importance of preparation before a photo session with the world’s best chef, Ferran Adrià. In a world where most people have a camera-phone on them most of the time, preparation is often the difference between a snap shot and a great photo.

But however much you’ve planned something it’s also important to think on the hoof. Raquel and Fernando had asked for a photo call during their wedding at Hotel Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja. Photo calls are the polar opposite to my usual, spontaneous, no-flash approach. But I like doing them and wedding couples delight in the resulting photos.

So I’d set up a couple of remote flashes and all that was missing were the guests. While someone went off to rouse the troops I was left alone with Raquel. Now Raquel is an exceptionally energetic person by nature so, to while away the time, I suggested we took a couple of shots. “Why don’t you jump?” I asked. So she did. I took a shot. It wasn’t too bad. “Once more, please.” And that’s the photo above.

This shot is a result of planning but also improvisation. It probably took less than10 seconds from the idea coming into my head to the finished photo. Sometimes that’s how the best shots are.

People often ask me how much photoshopping was in involved in this picture. I don’t use photoshop much. I prefer to spend my time out taking photos not sat in front of the computer changing them. But I did use photoshop to remove a sign from the wall, which I found distracting. The rest is real. The original picture is below so you can see for yourself. And there are more photos from the wedding here.

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Testimonial from Raquel’s mother: “Dear Friend, A great job. Every photo has something special. You’ve known how to get the best of both of them in their most treasured moments. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! and many thanks.”

Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org
Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Hotel Echaurren wedding, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain. Photo: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Emotion and wedding photography

Wednesday February 15th, 2012 11:46 AM

Boda en Ezcaray, La Rioja, Espana

“How do you achieve such emotionally moving photos?” That was what María wanted to know as she interviewed me for Wevents. María and her colleague Carlota have recently started the wedding planning business. The idea is that you tell them about your dream wedding and sit back while they get on and organise it. Wedding planners are well established in the UK and now, increasingly, in Spain too.

Anyway, back to the question and the answer is a combination of things. As noted in previous posts, light and composition but importantly too patience, observation and anticipation. And I get close to the action. It’s the best way to improve your photographs. The trick is to do so without bothering those around you or interrupting the proceedings.

Boda en Marques de Riscal, Elciego, Pais Vasco, Espana

Boda en Ezcaray, La Rioja, Espana

Boda en Ezcaray, La Rioja, Espana

Boda en Ezcaray, La Rioja, Espana

Boda en Castelldefels, Catalunya, Espana

Snowy photojournalism in Ezcaray, La Rioja

Friday February 3rd, 2012 04:30 PM

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

The call came just as my feet were finally getting warm in my draughty study. It was -4C outside and snowing and I was happy to spend the morning doing admin. “Ah James, I bet it’s snowed lots in Ezcaray,” said the voice on the line. “How about going and getting us some photos.” It was Javier from Diario La Rioja.

I normally like getting calls from the picture desk of the newspaper. They call me up from time to time to go and take a portrait of someone or if something exciting is going on in my corner of La Rioja. Being sent out by the paper is a good way to meet local people and also gives me the chance to try out new techniques.

With the freezing weather yesterday, I was a bit less enthusiastic than normal but, on the other hand, how can you refuse the chance to play in the snow, even if it means numb fingers and toes? And of course it was nice to see this morning one of my pictures on the front page, despite strong competition from the paper’s other photographers.

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Nevada en Ezcaray, La Rioja, España

Wedding photographers descend on Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Tuesday January 17th, 2012 04:02 PM

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

How do you unlock your creative juices and improve your abilities to take emotionally moving and intimate photographs? This was at the heart of a course for wedding photographers that I attended last week in Astorga, Castilla y Leon.

Taller La Mirada was hosted by the Brazilian wedding photographer, Vinícius Matos, whose work has attracted worldwide admiration in recent years. Aside from being an excellent photographer, Vini argues that you improve through an honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Only by understanding what holds you back can you learn how to move forward, he reckons.

On the first day the 12 photographers were sent out blindfolded – so they’d use their other senses for a change. The next two days were devoted to documenting 12 local people as they went about their daily lives, including a policewoman, politician, artist and elderly lady in a retirement home.

My job, as photographer of the course, was to follow all 12 photographers as they went about their tasks. Apart from the photos here, you can see my three-minute show of the course on You Tube.

The photographers on the course were:

Paolo Bocchese,  Virginia Gimeno,   Rares Pulbere,

Susana Barberá, Sergi Escrivá,  Alfonso Azaustre,

Horacio Arriaza, Santiago Vega,  Albert Pamies,

Daniel Garcia Lopez, Nelson Philipe, Antonio Luna Castaño.

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon