Bruno Gracia was born and raised in Ronda, Spain where he remembers taking his grandfather’s and father’s cameras to go out and capture his town. He studied law and history before moving to London to explore photography. Now, he spends his time between Ronda and London where he is trying become a professional photographer. Below, Bruno shares images from his Moroccan holiday.
Q: You last appeared on the Leica Camera blog in January 2014. Can you share what you have been up to professionally since then?
A: I have been studying at one of the best photography schools in Spain, to get a certificate. Although I realized the course’s focus was more on studio light and less documentary. I’ve always taught myself but felt the need to study and delve further more into photography.
Q: How would you describe your photography?
Approaching, documentary, even portrait photography. I cannot imagine my photography without the human being. It is the most important element because humans cause the strongest feeling: smiles, happiness, sadness, surprise, admiration.
Q: The images in this portfolio are from Morocco. Can you provide some background information on them? When they were taken and why were you in Morocco?
A: Actually, I was on holiday when I took them. It was a whole week and I went with my girlfriend. We were thinking about going to India, but we changed our minds and thought that Morocco could be equally impressive. It was a very good option because it is very close to Spain and the culture is completely different. This is what we wanted.
We took the train from Asilah to Marrakech and then take it again to Méknes, Fez and Tangier. I wanted to see a different way of life and Morocco is amazing in terms of light and colors and is full of street life.
Q: Do you think that these images as a whole tell a story? And what particular elements, technique or approach did you find most useful in taking them beyond the level of a typical sequence of tourist shots of an exotic location?
A: I don’t really know whether they tell a particular story, but I am sure a general story has been told. I think you can realize life in the street is quite important for Moroccans. The cities are full of life. We must know their culture and customs. Sounds romantic, but for me it is like that. I fall in love just with a smile, a look. I don’t need anything else.
Q: What camera equipment did you use to shoot them?
A: I took a Leica M9-P that I specifically borrowed for this trip and my beloved Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH., which I used the 95% of time and the Elmar-M 50 mm f/2.8 ASPH.
Q: What particular characteristics of features of the Leica M9-P and your Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH. lens made it, as you noted, “the perfect tool” for executing your Morocco mission? When did you switch to the Elmar-M 50 mm f/2.8 ASPH, how well do you think it performed compared to the 28 mm Summicron, and (aside from the focal length) were there any subjective or objective image quality differences worth noting?
A: As a street photographer, I find 28 and 35 focal lengths perfect for this type of photography. However the 28 mm is a lens that draws and paint the blues, reds and greens in a very beautiful way. It has everything I want in a Leica: design, render of skin tones, the colors, the separation between black and white. It’s absolutely fantastic, sharp but gentle at the same time, not too much digital or plastic. With the Elmar, I was looking for beautiful bokeh and a light weight lens, something for portraits. Spectacular.
Q: Your previous portfolio on the Leica Camera blog was shot in black-and-white. This portfolio is done in color. Do you prefer shooting in black-and-white or color? How do you decide if an image should be in color or not?
A: I’m still defining myself. However, in countries where the color is very important for a compositional element, I feel I must shoot in color. More so than when I lived in North Europe with cloudy and rainy days, when black and white is my choice. Choosing color or black and white depends of my feelings, like summer in color, sunny countries in color, but that could change in any moment.
Q: This image shows a woman, sitting sidesaddle on a donkey carrying a loaded basket on each side, both casting a beautiful shadow on the rough pavement. Although her head is covered you can see her face, and she’s wearing a jaunty straw hat, and a bright pink garment. There are typical Moorish style tiles on the building in front of her and she seems peaceful and serene. What do you think this image says about Morocco, and what were you thinking when you pressed the shutter release?
A: I think it just shows everyday life, which starts early in the morning. It shows the peace of the moments and a normal woman going about her business. She’s probably got to the market to sell the goods. I took this picture when I walked out of my hostel.
Q: The picture of a bunch of young men sunning themselves by the sea elicits a smile because the muscular young man in the foreground is taking off his pants, revealing blue striped swim trunks or undershorts, much to the amusement of the two guys on the right sitting on the wall. The way the figures fill the space is very dynamic and the mood seems casual and joyful. Can you tell us something about this picture and what you think it conveys to the viewer about Morocco?
A: I was enjoying the sun too where I took the picture. Those guys were diving into the water from the very top. It was really high, like 15 meters or more. To be honest, I don’t know what they were talking about, but I could see they were having fun with each other. I could feel the happiness from them. I doubted a bit taking the picture, but I thought if I doubt myself, I will lose the moment. That’s why I took the picture. They were very kind and they continued to dive into the ocean like in the Olympic Games. For me, this image shows life in any place in the world. People enjoying without shame or any other toughness.
Q: This image has a very dynamic composition that shows two little boys sitting on chairs, with artwork in the background. They’re beautifully framed in a curved-top window that’s been removed from some other structure. The feeling here is definitely surreal and it’s hard to be absolutely sure whether the windows are transparent or mirrors, which add an intriguing element of uncertainty. Was this something you simply saw and reacted by shooting a picture or did you conceive it in your mind first and then plan how to execute it?
A: A mix! I saw it while walking but I conceived something magical in my mind. Mirrors are always magical. Then I went very close to the mirror and waited for when I wanted it. I took the photo when the boys were staring at me.
Q: Do you think you succeeded in creating a portfolio that give viewers a real sense of what makes Morocco, its culture, and its art and architecture unique, and in conveying a sense of being there? Do you plan to revisit Morocco anytime soon, and do you have any other plans for publishing your Morocco images?
A: Well I don’t know exactly if I reached it, but I can say a part of Morocco lives now in me. I will be back by myself, alone, to finish the work. I hope to have an exhibition of my Morocco work in my town.
Q: How do you see your photography evolving over, say, the next three years and do you plan to document any other locations, such as Delhi, where you were thinking of going before you chose Morocco instead?
A: I will go to Delhi, but I first must go to Siberia.I would like to take photos of the life of regular people. Maybe I will use a Monochrom. Nowadays you can see people doing amazing thing with this camera, extracting from it tones of grays and stunning pictures.
Thank you for your time, Bruno!
– Leica Internet Team
Visit’s Bruno’s website or Flickr to learn more.