johnpaddler 10:36pm, 24 March 2015
From the first of what I hope will be many meetings with Pau.
johnpaddler Posted 6 years ago. Edited by johnpaddler (admin) 4 years ago
Hello Pau, thanks for agreeing to meet. You’re a rising star! You were in Bergen before, but now you’re in Oslo

Hi John, nice to finally meet you! And thanks for asking me to give instruction #03. I'm a rising what? Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are stars (of the fading kind, hopefully), I'm just someone quite obsessed with Street Photography.
Yes that's right, I moved to Oslo around three months ago after five years in one of the rainiest cities in the world.

Your photos are going to get a whole lot better here - the light, the weather. You know the joke – My father is a Millionaire – Really, what does he do? – He owns an umbrella factory in Bergen.

Haha! I just had to check it out, and Bergen's reputation isn't just a myth. According to WWIS (World Weather Information Service) Bergen has 2250mm/year and 235 rainy days/year... that's more than double than Seattle and more than triple than London.

Yes really, the weather there is unbelievable, but it helped/forced me to learn shooting with just one hand, as the other one was always holding an umbrella. Not sure if the photos are going to get better though. You never know in Street Photography and the good ones often come when you least expect it.

Apart from the better weather Oslo is also much bigger than Bergen, especially the city centre, and that's important for me, as I much prefer shooting in big cities.

You’re originally from Barcelona, what brought you to Norway?

I was an exchange student in Oslo for two semesters, in 1997-98. That was my first experience in the country, and I really liked it here. Since then I always thought about coming back one day to have some working experience abroad, and that finally happened in 2009 when the right circumstances showed up, and the financial crisis was getting really bad in Spain.

Barcelona, Oslo, London, New York – how do they compare for street photography?

I like shooting in big cities for the simple reason that there I find many more photo opportunities. They also offer something very important for me: anonymity. While I was shooting in Bergen it was impossible to remain anonymous for let's say one whole hour. I would always stumble upon some friend or acquaintance and maybe it sounds antisocial, but when I get into a certain state of concentration I prefer not to have any chit-chat distractions. That's practically impossible in places like London or New York, where I can feel completely anonymous and therefore more 'invisible'.

I'm still discovering Oslo in terms of Street Photography. I found the January and February months here a bit hard, because of the cold and darkness. It should only get better now, hopefully. When I get more focused though is when I go shooting abroad. Last year I traveled several times to London, Barcelona and once to New York. They are all great places that offer plenty of opportunities and an endless sea of life where to fish for photos.

Do you ever shoot with other people, photo walks, that sort of thing?

I normally prefer shooting alone. Street Photography for me is a solitary practice, and I think it is because I concentrate better when I'm on my own. I can of course hang around with a friend and try to grab some shots, but it's not the same.

I like to have all my senses focused on the task, so I try to avoid distractions. Have tried shooting with music sometimes, but always end up turning it off for the same reason.

Also, when I'm out taking photos I don't make any sense, so walking with me can be a challenge. I can go around the same block three times in a row, go back and forth crossing the same street, suddenly start running after something... If one day someone follows me they'll probably think I lost it completely :)

I shoot with Mrs. P sometimes. She’s on a 35mm. I always get in her way. Guess we’ll both be in each other’s way since you are on a 28mm. You go ahead, and I’ll take pictures of you in action.

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Thanks for that photo, John! You can see I had my stalker mode ON there. Nothing good came out of it though. I think it was Alex Webb that said that in Street Photography 99.9% is failure, and the picture I took there joined the club. I was trying to fit that man's squared hat into the back of a truck behind him, and I failed.

Shall we find a café? I would invite you home. I should have offered you that hospitality, but I’m a hoarder.

Haha, yes I could really use a warm coffee now. Well you know, Vivian Maier had extreme hoarding habits so you're probably on a good path. And I recently read an article about real geniuses having very messy desks and rooms. That would make me look good, too. By the way, did you see 'Finding Vivian Maier'?

John Maloof, he’s my best option. The Vivian Maier exhibition was here in Oslo. I only pop into galleries to warm my fingers, you know, the wintertime. What about you any exhibitions, competitions? How are you going to market the brand.

Yes I know, sometimes I can't feel my fingers any more and must go inside a shopping mall to bring them to life again.

Market the brand? I'm really bad at this kind of things. I don't have any sort of plan or anything, I just focus on what's important, trying to take good photos and learn as much as I can. I've been very lucky to be finalist in some competitions (with their respective exhibitions) in the last 8 or 9 months. That's something I could not have imagined just a year ago. Being amongst such great photographers in the Urban Picnic competition and the Miami Street Photography Festival was an honour for me.

Here’s a good place to sit. We can shoot people as they walk past. It’s more sporting than the other way. You ever do that, shoot people sitting in a café?

Thanks for the coffee, mate... next one is on me. Well, it's not my favourite sport either but I've done it a couple of times, without amazing results to be honest. A couple of months ago I was shooting some colourful ads on a travel agency's window and the guy inside got really upset and made quite a scene, threatening with calling the police (!). Luckily for me the boss made him come to his senses, because the guy seemed quite aggressive.

I notice your uploads to Flickr, the dimensions are quite small.

They are 800px on the long side. That's the picture dimensions I use for my website, because I don't want photos to take too long to load and it's more than enough for me. Maybe that's because I'm used to see and work with the pictures on my 13" laptop. Have no idea what other people does in this respect, but it works for me. How big do you upload your pictures here in Flickr?

About 1600px on the long side. I’m considering going up, with screen resolutions increasing.
There’s another street photographer I bump into. About your photos, he says he recognizes them immediately as yours. He’s on a Bruce Gilden thing at the moment. Flash in the face. Main street in Oslo you can get away with that some days. He has quite a collection of surprised dogs. You like to use flash?

You have to show me those surprised dogs pictures one day. I very much prefer daylight and no flash, but weather and winter darkness here in Norway give you no choice but to use flash sometimes, as you well know. I'm not very comfortable with the flash-in-your-face approach.. I've tried it a couple of times but I normally like to be more discreet.

I suppose it's a good thing that my photos are recognisable, but at the same time I wouldn't like to be labeled as the guy that does "this only thing". A one trick pony you say in English?

More a common denominator, an immediacy. The message comes across straight away. Your photographs are very tidy.

I can't help it. I like my photos to be neat and don't like very busy and messy backgrounds. I must be a formalist probably, but of course the most tidy and clear form wouldn't survive without an interesting content.

More than a message in most of my photos what I'm trying to show is a small concept, an idea, and the clearer I can put it into the form of a photograph, the better. Simplicity can be good, but there's always the risk of the photo becoming too 'easy' for the eye, and not inviting to repeated viewings. Showing a strong content in a simple well organised frame is one of the most difficult things. I'm trying.

I guess my personality must be reflected somehow in there, because also when working on buildings and its facades I've been quite obsessed with clear and neat designs. In the end we are all who we are and can't hide it even if we try :)

All street photographers are something else as too. Psychiatrist, social worker, artist, farmer… or architect! Perhaps that’s what makes street photography interesting, the different approaches people bring from their ‘other’ life. This photo. How long did you follow. How many shots.


Here I followed that guy for several blocks, trying to get a good perspective of the demon spawn in his hand. I was using flash because I wanted that little face well lit and for a bit of pop out effect. Just checked it out and I counted 16 different shots of this scene. Very often for me, the most difficult part is choosing among those different takes of the same scene. Man... I doubt a lot!

And this one:

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

I like the text ‘Hell’.

Haha that one? What I find interesting here is not the photo, but the fact that it made me realise how obsessed I can be with Street Photography. After a couple of hours shooting I was taking a break in a cafe, with a well deserved warm cappuccino and a croissant, when suddenly spotted that guy passing by with the fruit combo in the bag. And instead of ignoring him I reacted instinctively, got my jacket and left running like crazy after him, abandoning coffee and food there. Considering Oslo prices, probably not worth it... but I can be impulsive sometimes.

You’re not text driven. You go more for colour. But your older work was black and white.

That's probably right. I don't think I have many shots where text plays an important role. Maybe the one with a punk dog that ONLY loves its mommy.
After shooting for about a year and a half only in black and white, I moved to colour exactly one year ago and that was really what I needed. It felt liberating to have that extra variable to play with. I actually see my black and white days as a kind of formal training in photography, and feel quite disconnected from those photos now. I was basically just trying to have pleasant compositions… and that can get really boring. For me colour is the way to go and I still have a lot to learn about it.

Which is your favourite photo, and what was the process towards getting it?

I don't have a favourite photo, but I like this one for its dark atmosphere, the contraposition of the white cross and the small red 'devil' and the scattered highlights in the frame. Luck played an important role in getting this shot, as with many others. I was just waiting to cross a street in Bergen (in one of those rare sunny days there) when suddenly a car called my attention for its official state vehicle looks and the cross on top of it. Have never seen one like that before or since. Was it the official state exorcist? Anyway… the car just drove past and I managed to take three shots. In one of them I got lucky enough to have the sun reflection and the rest of elements fairly well positioned.


Pau, I see I’m going to have to up my game. It’s very good to have you here in Oslo!

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Well John, we all have to up our game. There's still a lot of room for improvement, and I’m sure this group is going to help many people in finding inspiration and encouragement from other photographers. You and everyone else involved in putting up Street & Repeat are doing a great job.

Oh… and you have to introduce me one day to your fox friend, although I think I prefer taking the boat than kayaking. See you soon, Mr. Paddler.
dongbide 6 years ago
Haha, revealing a lot about Pau's personality. He takes SP very serious. Leaving a coffee for a good shot. I like that!
Esther Moliné 6 years ago
Wonderful interview, really enjoyed it, and the photographs. I haven't got to the stage of abandoning a coffee and croissant for a shot yet though! :)
3_three_3 6 years ago
fab interview John and Pau - really enjoyed reading that!
watcher330 6 years ago
Thoroughly enjoyable read - but it is hoarding, not hording!!!
Naterally Wicious 6 years ago
Enjoyable interview, thanks. That photo you took of Pau in action is pretty good!
Peter Nahum 6 years ago
Its the informality of the interview that I like most - a very informative chat
Leripix 6 years ago
Brilliant interview. Made me feel that i was stalking you both and overheard everything you said. Thank you Pau and John.
Hearhun Hun Shiun 6 years ago
really great interview, enjoy reading it :)
._Karl_. 6 years ago
Really enjoyed the interview - thank you
Davide Albani 6 years ago
Great interview..I love so much his work! Big congrats!
marcello__ 6 years ago
Great interview with Buscató ! I have always been fascinated of his photos.
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