My name is Pedro Real Barbero, I was born in Madrid 47 years ago, and I live in a town bordering Madrid in the province of Toledo.
Currently I can say that I get to work on what I enjoy most, what I chose to study at the time, and what provides my principal livelihood, photography. I work for a company which is dedicated to the textile and fashion world and I am their “in house” photographer.
I am a member of the Photographic Association ENTRESOMBRAS.LP with Jorge Segura and Mar a Vedi, a member of AFONOCTE and the Spanish partner of Captura Raw magazine.
My main hobby is also photography! Yes, it’s a bit monotonous, but I can’t deny that it is my main one. I get to work on what I enjoy the most, where I have to respond professionally to the demands of the client and light painting is then my principal hobby which allows me to escape into my own inspiration as well as allowing me to travel get to know other places and cultures etc as well as allowing me the opportunity to switch off completely.
How did you get started in the Light Painting?
Well. More than just by chance – you could say it was fate.
I had already seen a little of this photographic style on television and on the internet etc. Then, as a result of a photography course I attended, I met a group of people who are now good friends of mine (hi to all of you!). We started meeting up together and experimenting and after a while and a few night-time outings to practice we ended up getting hooked and becoming part of the light painting scene.
Light painting just gets a hold on you – you do a few sessions, you want to expand your knowledge, time goes by and before you realize it turns out that you have had a bunch of interesting experiences and accumulated a load of light painting knowledge. You get to meet new people who are admirable, both in the work they produce and their general attitude and it is all a very positive experience..
This is the summary of how I started, it is clear that from the beginning if you enjoy light painting, it gets its hooks into you. Everyone looks for their own place at night, where they feel most comfortable and I feel most creative when light painting.
What does this art mean to you?
It means a lot. It has brought out a part of me that I didn’t know in depth.
It has also coincided with very important moments in my life, which has allowed me to take refuge in light painting.
It’s like someone who likes to go jogging or fishing. It has made me focus on something, it has helped me to free my head from other thoughts, it has allowed me to take some photos when thinking about those difficult moments, to meet incredible people, to know an unknown night world outside of the one we usually know. For me it has been a real discovery
Where would you like to do a Light Painting session?
There are many places, countries, landscapes, etc., but I think that to be able to access places, without going too far away, such as a Castle, Palace, Museum, Monasteries, buildings in private property, places of unthinkable stairs, vaults, etc.
Here in Spain we already have a ton of places, but if we extend it to the world, it is pretty much infinite, I think I’d need 3 lifetimes to reach so many places.
Imagine a Royal Palace, the Prado Museum, places that are completely inaccessible for light painting and yet they are so close by – it would be a dream to be able to access places like that and to spend a couple of nights in the dark there would be incredible.
You don’t have to go very far, really.
What 3 tools do you usually carry with you at all times?
Apart from the obvious, camera, tripod, flashlights, etc.
I always carry my fibre optics, they never fail me, color filters (all from LightPainting Paradise), I like working with filters I like the pure colors they give and I do not have to recharge the batteries!
Finally, something that never fails me and is my super camping chair which, even if I don’t feel like it always ends up being used by someone!
What do you like the most about Light Painting? And what do you like the least?
The originality, is what I like the most. No one photograph is ever the same as another, even if it is an attempt of create something identical. Each photo is the work of the person or persons involved in it, and it is impossible to do exactly the same. It always varies from one to the other.
The satisfaction when you go back to the camera and see that there is something that amazes you, something that is made in the dark and painted in the air, something that without knowing how to draw on paper has come out of your imagination and you have captured it in a photographic image.
I don’t make sketches, everything is in my head and there are many, many times when you try and you don’t succeed, but everything has its reward.
I also enjoy the moments where we can take some sandwiches, some beer and some time with other artists and friends – that’s a joy and of course it does not end there – the next day or the following days we get to take the card out of the camera and see what we created which is also enjoyable amongst all the other things..
And in terms of the things I like least
Firstly, not having the locations I want closer to home – although you end up learning that it is not necessary to have the best locations, but instead to make the best of what you have.
Secondly the sleep you end up missing, although you learn to catch that up in different ways over the years.
From time to time, for different reasons, you might start to wonder whether to continue or to give up, but eventually a solution comes to you and you end up continuing.
Bad criticisms sometimes hurt and I think people in general should try to be constructive, to support and teach, especially when they have experience and a platform – you have to serve as an example for others.
All this you have to learn to digest and more when your work gets exposed to the public.
In general, I really enjoy what I do.
What has been your biggest photographic challenge / your most difficult photo to achieve?
For me all of them are a challenge, all of them have something, just because of the manual work involved in getting a photograph of this type, However, the biggest challenge is always to get out of your comfort zone and say today I’m going to light something big, or something small, or try a camera rotation even though I do not do it often. I try things like that from time to time – sometimes they are a disaster, but it is still fun, I usually do a lot of portrait work, but I try other disciplines which help me learn other techniques that can be mixed with my normal work to get different results.
Which photographers, lightpainters or artists in general have influenced you?
There are several lightpainters that have influenced me a lot and it is evident and all of them are close to me.
Pedro Javier (el nino de las luces) was the first photographer I had contact with through a workshop and he blew me away – he is a great researcher of how lighting works
I think it is very evident and clear that I have been inspired by the great Carles Calero who opened my eyes to something I had been looking for.
I still needed to know more lighting techniques and I so I also attended some courses with Cesar (Noctogramas) and Dario Cuesta and with both of them I enjoyed their techniques and some of their workshops.
Finally, if you look at the works of other artists from outside Spain, you choose what attracts you the most and you decide to give free rein to creativity and it marks a path for you.
If you could only keep one photograph, which one would you choose? Why?
It would have to be the following photograph which has a story behind it. A photograph that when you see it, you know it is trying to say something and which was taken in one of those dark moments which life sometimes confronts you with. It is the story of a little girl fighting for the first time against a disease which had just started to show. Nowadays it is a lesson that life gives us every day, almost 4 years after this photo was taken – she continues to fight and continues to give us life lessons
Can you tell us any funny anecdote that happened to you while doing Light Painting?
The truth is that I’m usually quite cautious in terms where I go, especially when I work with models. I like to have a pretty much controlled environment to be comfortable working, but there are always the odd light painting story about people who appear at night when they are out taking a walk – for example the police that turned up one night looking like they were out of a comic book, the priest who appeared along with about 40 parishioners, etc.
Lately it almost feels like I am being plagued by random drunks in the least expected places! One time I was down a mine in Jaen and, when we wanted to leave, it turned out our cars were almost boxed in due to the number of people and cars that had turned up. Equally, 15 days later we were in Navarra, in the Molino de Ollate. Anyone who knows that site knows it is in the middle of absolutely nowhere and yet, all of a sudden, cars started to appear from every direction and we had to shift our stuff before they damaged the cameras – in the end we just gave up, packed up all our stuff and left!
All of them ended with a few laughs.
Finally, a short time ago we were also quite nervous when we came across a bunch of kids who were having fun throwing stones and other things around where we were working.
What advice do you give to new light painters?
More or less what everyone usually says – have a lot of patience, and just keep trying things over and over again – don’t despair, especially when something doesn’t work out,
Everything, no matter how much experience you have, needs repetition to master – you try things, you experiment – this is constant, so patience, and above all enjoy, make your own bubble – that is where you will find your style, and continue following good advice.
Learn to do things well and then experiment if you want to.
The world moves forward, what is new today won’t be new tomorrow – there is a future of new and exciting artists who will write their own history.
We all have our place and time, ignore everything that is out of place and time, you will avoid more than one surprise and will help you grow. Be yourself and pursue what you want to pursue.
You can follow Pedro Real here :