Felix R. Cid's road to professional photography certainly was an interesting one. He started his professional life working in construction, took photos of people in discotheques, and owned a business in Ibiza. Read all about how he started making a living with photography and watch an impressive video consisting of 1,111 photos taken in London, New York City, Madrid and Paris.
Please tell the community a little bit about yourself, what you do for fun, what you do for a living.
I have done many things to make a living in the past. I come from a workers family. I used to be a welder working in construction. I worked in Discos, I owned a business in Ibiza and was an assistant for many commercial photographers Today I am fortunate enough to actually be capable to live from my art. What do I do for fun? I shoot or I enjoy the Mediterranean Sea.
How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I started studying photography in Madrid in 1999. Before I finished the program, I found a job in the Island of Ibiza for a black and white photography business oriented on truism. I used to take pictures of about 800 people per day. All kind of races, ages, languages and genders. At night, after shooting all day, all I had was the same black and white portraits again and again, day after day, month after month. It was not exactly my dream job but I learned a lot about photography and about humanity. I did it for several years before I came to NY.
You work both in photography and video and often mix the two. Is there one of the two approaches that you like most?
That is a good question. Thanks for asking. I actually have been focusing on video as a platform to talk about photography today. I consider my videos to be photographs and not videos. Maybe one can say they are photographs that move. In general I believe that nothing is real, but a photograph is a flat two dimensional image that depict the surface of “reality” while at the same time is also capable of create poetry. A photograph also has no narrative, it is mute. Those are the most important pillars of photography to me. And in that sense I consider my “videos” as belonging to the same category.
Let me explain: I go out there in the world and photograph in what people might call “a very traditional way.” Then I work with those single images to create a composed final larger photograph which is still a two dimensional image depicting a surface. It has no narrative and it is mute, just like every other printed photograph in the world. The only difference is that my photographs move, because the consecutive superposition of one onto another. If I would take all those images and use software to create a larger composite in a larger printed frame (as in my Black Photographs) nobody would question the nature of photography. The way I composed the “videos” is just the same but in this case all the images are composed in the same frame. It is just a matter of space to me, not time. They are still photographs in form and content. I can do this now and we could not do it before because of the tools we get to work with today. That’s the only difference.
How many photographs are parts of your impressive video for “Faces”? Did you include all or most of the ones you took or were there certain photographs you could not or did not want to include?
“Faces” is made out of exactly 1,111 photographs. They were shot in London, New York City, Madrid and Paris. I included every single image of the people I photographed. One of the important concepts behind the work was actually not to edit anything out. I had no plan or expectations about the photographs I was capturing. I shot everybody who jumped into my frame. I approached each shot equally, no matter who was in it and where they were made. “Faces” happened in very organic process. I never had a plan. That is the way I always work. I just go out and shoot and then things start to take shape when back in the studio. Sometimes even months after the shots.
I am a Yale graduated with an MFA in photography. I have obviously been very influenced by Walker Evans. Looking at contemporary photography, I realized that since Evans things have changed in only one direction in American photography: The ideas on individualism. There are some exceptions to this growth of the self-conscious artist based on individual identities in the post Evans period: Gary Winogrand who once claimed that the best way to be for him would be not existing. Another example for an exception to that trend would be Tod Papageorge getting drawn in the masses of the 1960s stadiums during the Vietnam crisis and obsessed with being able to depict as many humans as possible in his frame. Philip Lorca Dicorcia who with “Heads”, I believe, was putting the finger on the same fire that Evans lit. What I am trying to say is that Walker Evans did not seem to care about expressing a personal identity. He cared about commenting on a global American Identity. He didn’t care about who he was as an individual or at least he had no intention to express that with his work. I myself believe that this is a more interesting approach to art and photography than the investigation on individuals’ identities. Maybe that comes from my European education and from growing up under a socialist government, but when I was already working on “Faces”, I looked at the photograph “Studio” (the second photograph in Evans’ book “Americans Photographs.”) I understood well why Evans chose that photograph to be one of the first in the book. It is not about America to me. It is about the human condition and I believe so it was for Evans at the end of the day.
You studied at the International Center for Photography in New York. What are some of the most vivid memories from that time regarding influences on your photographic work?
My time at ICP was a very transitional period. I was moving from Spain to New York, my English was much worse than it is today (believe it or not, it is possible). It was also the first time I got to invest my time only on studying photography and I got to learn very closely from American photography, which became my biggest influence. But I think my experience at Yale years after that definitely shaped my work much more. I had the privilege to still have Tod Papagoerge as director of the program the first year and Gregory Crewdson the second year. Every week we had figures like Richard Prince, Paul Graham, Jonh Pilson, Philip Lorca Dicorcia and Richard Benson in the panel among many others, plus an endless list of extraordinary visiting artists and lecturers. Yale really were the most important two years of my career.
You started out working as a photographer in Spain and later moved to New York. Do you see big differences in the photographic approach in the two countries? How would you describe them?
I would say only that as we know and as we have heard before, Europe has been painted and America has been photographed.
What is your advice for someone starting out as a professional in your field?
As simple as what Tod Papageorge said to me once. Follow your instinct. It sounds easy but it is probably the most difficult thing to do today in our rational and intellectualized contemporary times. But if you find the way to do it, you can’t miss.
Please share a trick of yours that will always result to a great photo.
Take millions of photographs.
Lastly, do you have any new projects coming up? Anything we should watch out for?
They are many things in the pan but I have some new images from this summer and they will be added to Black Photographs. I am also preparing a book which will be called “Landed.” I am always working in many things at the same time. The mystery is to know which ones will survive.
I would like to say that I am very excited about a new exhibition coming up at Garis and Hanan Gallery in New York City where some of my work is included . The exhibition is called “After the Fall” and it opens January 10th. I personally know and admire every single one of the other artists like Gideon Barnett, Pao Her, Matthew Monteith, Yorgos Prinos, Hrvoje Solvenc and Monika Sziladi. I consider them some of the best people working today in photography.
You want to hear more from professional photographers? Check out the other interviews in our Meet the Pros series.