Aitor Del Arco

2021 Non-Professional Still in Motion / Video Photographer Of the Year

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background!

I was born in a small town in Spain located on the Mediterranean coast. Since I was little I approached art through painting. I went to painting classes from 5 to 15 years old, however, I quit. I suppose that being a small town it was more difficult to access culture and it did not look good to want to dedicate yourself professionally to art. I moved away from the artistic world and entered the world of computing. It was something that I was good at, but it didn’t make me happy. Personally, I wasn’t going through my best moment either, so I had to pause and decide which path I wanted to follow. In 2016 I opted for photography, saved up and bought a second-hand camera. (To this day it is the same camera that I still use.)

Knowing that I never wanted to leave art behind again, I began my studies in 3D design, film and animation. To this day, I am very proud of the courage it takes to fight for what you want. In 2017 I returned to my hometown with my first exhibition “Ineffable”, it was incredible to see my photographs on display. When I finished my studies in 2018 I decided to continue learning and entered the University to study audiovisual communication. Next year I hope to finish my degree.

Q: How did you realize that you enjoy photography and capturing pictures?

Now that I look back, I realize that since I was a child I always had a camera in my hands. I wanted to go on a trip so my parents could give me the analog camera they had. I think at that time I didn’t realize how important photography was to me, it was just something I liked.

When I started studying in 2016, the subject of photography was what most caught my attention, since then I have not stopped taking photos.

Feeling that I could express myself through a single image was something that fascinated me. The photo stopped being a simple image to become a story, a story that I wanted to share with the world.

That’s when I focused on Fine Art, as it was a tool that allowed me to continue expressing myself. With more and more detail, the post-production process managed to give life to something that, until now, only lived inside me.

Q: Do you ever have trouble getting inspired? What do you do when moments like this arise?

Sometimes I do have seasons where it is very difficult for me to find inspiration. In those times I get stuck, so I have to be very careful not to fall into a loop.

“I am not inspired – I have no ideas – I do not believe – I am not inspired.” It is important to be aware of when one enters these circles, in order to take control and stop.

Being stagnant is not good because somehow, the path you have to follow until you create again is much longer.

What works for me when these moments come is to immerse myself in books, movies and especially music. Immerse myself in the art world until I reconnect with my creative side. Once the process begins again, always with the help of texts that I write and music, I create an atmosphere where I feel comfortable. That atmosphere is what sets the pace of the creative journey. One song that I listened to a lot while creating my last work was the song “Something to remember me by” from the group The Horrors.

Q: Which aspect of photography would you say was the hardest thing that you had to learn or get used to?

On a technical level I must admit that there are no remarkable aspects that would cost me to learn. I’ve always been good with the camera. I did have to train the “photographic eye”, the way to understand the environment around me to see things where no one else saw them. However, what cost me the most was to get used to having a record with all my projects. Start and finish them. This is closely linked to the security that one has of oneself, since if during the creative process you do not believe in your projects, the motivation disappears. It is important to give yourself the opportunity, believe in yourself and your work and lose the fear of thinking that people are not going to like what you do. Consistency and security are the things with which it cost me the most to live.

Q: You have been chosen Non-Professional Still in Motion/Video Photographer of the Year for your work “Chronicles of Fallen in Love,” a video that reflects the feelings and thoughts that arise when we’re in love. How did you come up with this idea?

The idea of ​​creating a series based on how we feel when we are in love came through a conversation with my friend. Each person experiences love in very different ways, sometimes it is very difficult for someone to understand how you feel when you are in love or when you have ended a relationship.

I suppose that in the gay community we have always had more difficult to find references to follow, stories where we can see ourselves reflected. For this reason, I have always lived in a more closed way. I have never openly shared my emotions or experiences. The idea of ​​working with a feeling like love is something that came at an opportune moment. I am convinced that if I had done the series sooner or later the result would never have been the same.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what was the hardest aspect when planning this project and then executing it?

As I have mentioned, the idea of ​​sharing such personal experiences was something new for me. In order to tell this story I had to dig deep into my feelings and unearth old stories. I think that was the hardest part, losing the fear that the memories will hurt again. It’s a very introspective story in which, in a way, you feel very vulnerable.

Regarding the technical part, I remember that I spent a lot of time trying to take the perfect photograph of the butterflies that I later used in one of the pieces of my work. (The body with the butterflies inside the belly).

Q: Why did you decide on entering this particular project into the IPA?

In 2018, two years after starting photography, I presented a series that earned an honorable mention at the IPAs. In 2019 I also received another honorable mention again. Seeing recognition of my work by such important awards as the IPA has made me seek improvement to continue achieving my goals.

Like I said, self-esteem is a big part of the motivation it takes to keep working and creating.

Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?

Winning was something that I did not expect. I guess it sounds cliché but it is. When I presented my work I did hope that the effort behind it would be appreciated but you never really know what you are up against. When I received the news I had to read it many times, I thought it had been a mistake. When I finally realized that there had been no mistake and that I had been chosen photographer of the year in Still in Motion / Video category, an adrenaline rush ran through my body. I think winning has given me the push I needed to continue creating in a much safer way, knowing that every effort is worth it.

Q: If you could do anything or go anywhere, what would your dream photography project be?

Being a director of photography and art in a big project would be my dream. Dedicate my life to photography in all its variants. At this moment I cannot live alone from my work as a photographer, I still have to combine work and studies, so I do not spend as much time as I would like to on my projects.

I must also admit that I dream of the idea of ​​living in cities like Amsterdam and New York. I think they are cities full of life, with a lot of culture and where you can find works of art in almost any corner. Coming from a city as small as mine, those cities seem like movie cities to me.

Q: What good advice would you give to a photographer who is just starting to experiment with photography?

I think I keep growing and I keep developing, I am still in a learning process. However, something essential to start in the world of photography is taking photos. It may seem irrelevant, but sometimes we wait for the perfect moment, the perfect photograph … and while we wait for that to come, we miss many opportunities.

Your best photographs will never be the first you take, but nothing happens, it means that you are trying.

When Imogen Cunningham was asked what her favorite photograph was, she replied: “The one I’m going to do tomorrow.”

In summary, I would say that the most important thing when you enter the world of photography is to always carry your camera with you, not stop taking photos, put passion and believe in yourself.

Q: What is next for you, are you working on anything right now?

Right now I am very focused on my final degree project. It is a very important project with which I will be able to finish my studies in Audiovisual Communication. In it I want to demonstrate everything I have learned in these four years, that is why I am starting to work on video art.

As I grow up I look for new ways to develop my work, to transmit stories, to continue expressing myself and to get closer to those people who follow me. I am very excited not only with my next project for being a new challenge, but also for everything that comes next.