My name is Alberto Álvarez and I turned 49 years old in February, this year. I live in a small town in the province of Segovia in Spain.
In 1989 I suffered a serious car accident (I was only 20 years old), which took me a year to recover and left me in a wheelchair; a paraplegic. Since then my main goal has been to keep myself alive, literally. Not to succumb to grief, pain and situations that derive from being different in a society as difficult as ours.
The first thing I did when I left the hospital was buy a Nikon F-801; I did not really know what the reason was, I just had a huge need to save the places, landscapes and people I passed through. Where I enjoyed and who I knew before life left me.
In 2012, I started experimenting with pinhole cans looking for pictorial values in my shots, trying to emulate the pictorialist techniques of Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Henry Peach Robinson, Rejlander and the use of photography by French painters at the end of XIX and beginnings of the XX, and the “pre-raphaelites” English.
I think that the pinhole shots give very dreamlike results, like mirage images. They are without definition and millimeter details, like images created with spots, not with detailed strokes.
This is perfect for the topics that interest me most. Such as the landscape, the trees and their surroundings. Since ancient times, there is where I live a tradition of the trees that grow here (oaks and ash trees above all). It consists of pruning their branches every 20 or so years, which transforms the tree into a very thick trunk with a head of thin branches. Some take the appearance of supernatural beings. They are living sculptures in beautiful landscapes. This has always interested me, the tree; and the characteristics of the land where I live.
As I said before, I started with cans of canned fish that I used to make a pinhole; the exposure was done on photographic paper, but I found that the graycale of the paper was very limited and there was not much that could be done to improve it. So the first thing I did was to transform an old Zeiss-Ikon bellows camera into a pinhole camera that could be fitted with filters; I basically disassembled the lens and put in place a sheet with a pinhole, using the shutter and the thread of the lens.
[Below are shots taken on the Zeiss-Ikon bellows camera with Velvia 50 film]
The next thing I wanted to do was to obtain a panoramic camera, but at that time I only found an artisan company that made them on the internet in Poland, called VermeerCamera. It was a format of 6 x 17 with possibility of placing filters.
[Below are shots captured on Alberto’s Vermeer 6x17 Panoramic Camera]
Later, I built cameras based on old relics like Agfa Clack, for example. Now, on the internet, it is very easy to get pinhole cameras already built and even meet people who make pinhole cameras with very high quality - I own some models.
I always make my shots on film in black and white. Although sometimes, very rarely, I shoot with color too! The films that I shoot with I choose very carefully, I especially like the Rollei IR400, Rollei Retro400s, Ilford HP5 Plus, Rollei Ortho 25. As you see some films are quite difficult in their exposure and development but I’ve had experience with them for a long time now. In color, Velvia 50 seems insurmountable.
Only nature inspires me, landscapes; I am a very reserved and solitary guy that loves nature. Of men, I am only interested in the impact that he creates with his work. My dream project is an exhibition that takes my work and pinhole photography to the top of the artistic avant-garde, such as the Salon of the Impressionists of 1874 or the photo-secession group of Alfred Stieglitz.