Born in Madrid, Spain, Manu Pombrol is a 35-year-old artist and photographer whose self-portraits are nothing short of extraordinary. Pombrol first started down a creative path when, at a very young age, he painted pictures or portraits in pastels. Then, as computers started making their way into the mainstream, he worked in graphic design. He bought his first camera only about three years ago and that's when everything changed. In his words, “Everything started to make sense. I found out (a little bit late) that photography was the perfect tool to show what was in my mind. I was seduced by the insane idea of mixing reality and surrealism, trying to create my own art language.” Read more of our interview with Manu, below.
Where do your ideas for the photo manipulations come from? Actually, I spend a big part of my time trying to visualize images aimed at showing surrealistic concepts. I am very interested in the development of subjects like time, death, human evolution, psychology or collective behavior. Sometimes I deploy an ironic vision of things that usually concern all of us, and that's a pretty important source of inspiration. I try to make images that are able to make people smile and think at the same time. Which are some of the software programs you use? I mainly use Photoshop and Lightroom. First, my workflow is to obtain a general development of the image on Lightroom. Then, I export to Photoshop and work all layers till I get satisfied with the results. Finally, I export the image back to Lightroom to put the finishing touches on it. How did you learn Photoshop? The tool is so perfect that any artist is able to find his/her workflow by himself, it's just a question of work and time. I have never attended any seminars or educational courses. However, I don't like to call myself a ‘self-taught artist', because I know it's very important to talk, to share and to discuss with other photographers or artists to find answers to different problems, and that's the best ‘school' ever. How long do your photo manipulations take? Well, it depends on the difficulty level. Photographs like ‘Things That Make You Feel Unique' can take more than 5 hours, which I try to divide on time, because it's very important to give up the edition for a few days on every step, and then take it up again to judge the results with a better time perspective. Which is your favorite picture and why? My favorite picture is ‘Crystal Clear'. Everybody tells me about its simplicity and I really think this photograph describes me perfectly… the way I'm used to analyzing my ideas and how concepts can be used to show different points of view through an illogical language. Is there any advice you'd like to give to other photographers/artists? I make sure I always enjoy shooting with my camera, editing, creating new light tricks, post-producing, etc… I'm certain that working this way brings the best results. Having a good mood and a great sense of humour could be the recipe for awesome images…but don't leave your camera batteries at home! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Manu. Keep up the great work! Manu Pombrol