Today we feature and excerpt from The Photographic Journal's interview with Eduardo Torres, whose elegant portraits highlight his subject's subtle expressions and attributes to potent effect.
What do you look for in someone to photograph?
I’m interested in lines and shapes, in expressions, in the subtle difference of the little details… freckles, eyes, lips – the type of skin.
I don’t think I look for it before the shoot. I look for it as I shoot. I’m interested in the way they are when they are intimate. Honestly intimate. Like with someone they love, that moment they give a loving look. I think I’m interested in knowing how they love, truly love…
How would one experience them visually if they were in love with you? I’m not entirely sure that that’s the case. But I think there may be some part of it that’s along those lines.
How do you go about eliciting that? Do you find it requires a lot of direction on your part?
I actually try to not direct the models. I’m still quite shy around them. I do tell them to not pose for me. I tell them to do whatever they want to get comfortable – to enjoy being there.
We talk about small things but I rarely tell them to adopt any one position or any one expression. I will sometimes ask them to imagine I’m their partner, to look at me honestly as if I were them. Lovingly.
But I doubt that works!
The best moments are when they are in their heads, thinking about whatever they are thinking, communicating that which I have no idea about with their eyes. That sometimes doesn’t work with some people, but that’s okay. I love it when it does work, when the person just goes off into their own world.
Do you try to guide the conversation in any way? Is the conversation important when shooting?
The whole interaction from the start is key. It is very much all about the process of getting to know each other, and becoming really comfortable around each other. It’s almost always a great chemistry from the start. And we do get to know each other as we go along, more and more.
I don’t think I have a plan about how I’m going to guide the conversation, but it definitely is important, and I’m happy for it to happen naturally. The conversation is honest and it guides the whole process.
Do you think this kind of process is something of an attempt to capture what you weren’t able to find when you were younger and more shy?
I think there may be parts of it that are related to that. In the sense that I am getting to study what it is that I find so intriguing and mysterious in them.
Sometimes it’s a lot more abstract then that. I want to see what expressions look like, and how they can be conveyed naturally and convincingly. I want to be able to look at a certain photograph and recognize a feeling, an emotion, that I’ve experienced before in intimacy. I don’t necessarily think I will ever actually achieve that, but I think that’s part of the drive too.
‘The impossible quest,’ one of our interviewees called it. What would you like people to take away from your photos, what do you want them to see?
This is a hard thing for me. I’m not entirely sure that I know. Bloomington is a small town, so people that I run into on the street are always very kind about my work. I’m always surprise to hear them talk about it – to hear the things they see.
I would be lying if I said I really thought in much depth about what they would make of it. I find it very daunting and intimidating. I often am even nervous to hear exactly what it is that they saw when they looked. I do this because I can’t help but do it. I really want to create something that speaks to the way I see beauty. But I don’t know that I want anything else out of anyone.
I think there are themes of naturalness, messiness, rawness, intimacy, and minimalism that I am inevitably putting forth. But I don’t think people necessarily see that always. And as I said before, I really don’t have a message with my photography. There’s nothing I’m trying to say to anyone. If anything, I would want the exploration to be the message itself.
I like the idea of each photograph speaking for itself, for whatever it is that it was, without a designer.
Keep reading the complete interview on The Photographic Journal.