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

Capturing the devotion of Riojan winemakers

Thursday November 29th, 2012 10:16 AM

Cata en Bodega Marques de Riscal. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Sports stars, successful artists and business leaders famously have it and so too, it seems to me, do the winemakers I’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. The ‘it’ I’m referring to is devotion to what they do.

I’ve been photographing a number of them for Diario La Rioja’s annual wine supplement. At Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Javier Salamero spoke with tenderness & love about the historic wines on offer. Of course you could argue that he was preaching to the converted as the photo above seems to suggest.

In San Vicente de la Sonsierra I found two mega construction projects. Jose Manuel de Bodegas Viña Ijalba has flattened the top of a sizeable hill by 10m to make a plateau on which he has planted grape varieties from all over the world.Nearby Marcos Eguren has excavated a laberinth of huge tunnels to provide storage for the Sierra Cantabria winery that is being constructed above.

And in Samaniego I watched as Fernando Remírez de Ganuza, who makes some delicious wines, went mosquito hunting. It reminded me of a Monty Python sketch but underlined his dedication to the cause. And made a nice photo too!

Cata en Bodega Marques de Riscal. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Tour at Bodega Marques de Riscal. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Bodegas Ijalba winery, San Vicente de Sonsierra, La Rioja, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Bodegas Ijalba winery, San Vicente de Sonsierra, La Rioja, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Marcos Eguren en Bodegas Sierra Cantabria winery, San Vicente de Sonsierra, La Rioja, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Marcos Eguren en Bodegas Sierra Cantabria winery, San Vicente de Sonsierra, La Rioja, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fernando Remirez de Ganuza at his winery, Samaniego, Alava, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fernando Remirez de Ganuza at his winery, Samaniego, Alava, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Fernando Remirez de Ganuza at his winery, Samaniego, Alava, Spain. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Portraits: Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja

Saturday August 18th, 2012 02:40 PM

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja

The first thing that Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, the count of Creixell & owner of Marqués de Murrieta winery, said to me was: “How long do you need to take my portrait? One hour or two?”

Brilliant!! So often on comercial assignments, I get no more no more than 10 minutes to photograph the boss. The resulting photos are fine, and sometimes a combination of spontaneity and my inner desperation leads to surprisingly good results.

But Vicente’s opening gambit, apart from putting me at ease, revealed his understanding and respect for the craft of photography. Namely that having time to think and some trial and error allows for creativity and leads excellent results. And that’s in both our interests.

The photos are published in this month’s Decanter Magazine.

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Marqués de Murrieta, Logroño, La Rioja Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Wedding: Raquel & Javier, Marqués de Riscal, Elciego

Thursday June 7th, 2012 03:26 PM

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Euskadi, is a lovely place to photograph a wedding, what with the stunning architecture and beautiful location to name but two of its delights. Every time I go, part of the fun is to find new angles and approaches. It’s the sort of place that never ceases to stimulate.

That said, when I looked back over the photos of Raquel & Javier’s wedding, there was one photo that really thrilled me; and it didn’t have any of the Riscal architecture in it. Or even the wedding couple.

It was the one above of a little boy sitting on the carpet playing with his toy (or more likely his father’s or mother’s) while the adults celebrated all around. At any wedding there are multiple stories taking place at any given time and I’m always on the look out for them. This is not the sort of photo that will be at the front of the album but it adds intrigue, detail and depth to my coverage.

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The couple’s feedback:

Hi James,

We’ve received the book of photos and we love it.

Thanks for everything,

Raquel & Javier

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Boda Marques de Riscal, Elciego. Foto: James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org