Interview with Camilo Diaz
1st Place Winner, Events Category, “Submerged Field – Underwater Rugby”
Camilo Díaz was born in 1981 in Colombia. He studied Visual Arts at the National University of Colombia and further Fashion Photography, Advertising and Film Studies at different Universities in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His masterful work centers around the cozy and intimate depiction of individuals and their lives and their ambience.
Q: You were born in Medellin, Colombia. What things interested you when you were young, and how did you discover photography?
Camilo Diaz: When I was young, my city was in a difficult situation because of the army conflict. The line between shooting a gun or shooting a camera was thin. My parents were always very persuasive with the subject of art and sports. An early age, they made sure that painting overshadowed the grey landscape that was taking over the city. Painting captivated me and trapped my soul. My father was my main client while my mother walked beside me, hoping that the canvasses would lead me to the right place.
I began to capture silhouettes of my sister in the water with the excuse of putting them into a frame, which turned photography into an actual method of furthering my training. Passion led me to study arts in three important universities of Colombia: Bellas Artes, National University and, University of Antioquia, where I finally improved photography.
Q: Do you remember your first photo?
Camilo Diaz: It’s very difficult to remember! I have been significantly influenced by family albums, where those memories turn into my own memories, I probably shot with my dad’s old Zenit camera and took some of them myself.
Q: What was your first formal job as a photographer?
Camilo Diaz: It was at the wedding of one of my close friends, and it was terrible! The lighting conditions were difficult, and I missed the great moments of the wedding.
Q: How did you come up with your ‘Submerged Field – Underwater Rugby’ picture?
Camilo Diaz: For many years I have been working with underwater photography; experimentation has helped me to refine the technique. I am quite close to water sports and specifically to underwater rugby. The girls were preparing for the most important championship of this discipline worldwide, and they asked me for help with the image since by making this strange sport more visible they could seek resources for their participation in the world championship.
Being a contact sport, it seemed coherent to absent the water a bit and emphasize more the expressions, strength and power that this sport represents, based on images of ground rugby. I worked in a frame similar to the terrestrial field. My main character would lead the team to an imminent triumph, facing the great adversity that was happening at that moment.
Q: What were the main challenges in the realization of this picture?
Camilo Diaz: All become a big challenge, starting with gravity. Keeping the framing, working with a big group of athletes, the expressions of their faces, the movement of the water, the short time I had to do it. I only could shoot two times using a housing that was not designed for my equipment. Finally, I had to set up my camera, including the focus from out of the water, as only the shutter was working.
Q: Are there any photographs that have changed your life?
Camilo Diaz: Saigon Execution by Eddie Adams. He taught me that a slight shot from my camera can hurt or even save lives, starting with my own life.
Q: You were selected as First place in the Events Category of the TIFA photography awards. What has receiving this award meant to you?
Camilo Diaz: It has always been very exciting to receive this kind of award; not only for me but also for my family. It is a reward to so many walks with my mother towards that pool. The most important award is to see their happy faces when I receive recognition on the other side of the world. Winning the first place in the Tokyo Photography Awards is verifying that we are doing something right.
Q: What are you working on now? What is in the pipeline for you?
Camilo Diaz: I’m working full time on photography. I am venturing into galleries and dreaming of being part of the big art fairs of the world.
Q: What style of photography do you most identify with?
Camilo Diaz: I really like art, and, the conceptual photography, that which with a simple composition and great content capture the viewer.