Every year the sleepy neighbourhood of Gracia in Barcelona becomes the scene for one of the most extraordinary street parties on earth. The wild combination of rock concert and art exhibition attracts in excess of 1.5 million people annually in what the lonely planet travel guide describes as an “explosion of creativity”.
In amongst the mayhem was Lucinda Grange, an adventure photographer who spends her days scaling buildings / dangling from ropes and generally doing extreme things in search of the perfect photo; and when we noticed she was posting from the Festa using an Xperia Z1 Compact, we got in touch to see what she’d be able to with its newer cousin – Xperia Z3 Compact.
Lovely to meet you Lucinda; tell us a little about yourself, what do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’m an adventure photographer and part-time lecturer and I’ve been doing it coming on 10 years now. My first real foray into the world of professional photography probably began when I was 17. I realised I’d found something that I was relatively good at and enjoy doing so decided that it was the career path for me – I’m 26 now and still going strong!
Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures. Any particular stand out places you’ve been to or things you’ve done?
I’ve pretty much busted a gut to seek out as many adventures and cool photo opportunities that I can find, sometimes going to quite extreme length, whether that’s spending a night on a sand boat floating towards Timbuktu, scaling Notre Dame Cathedral, crawling through the Parisian Catacombs or climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza at the dead of night.
One of my more recent and memorable adventures came this summer in Barcelona. I don’t usually wait for permission to take my shot but this was the exception. It was during the Festa Major de Gracia. I was specifically there to capture one particular night of the festival, called Correfoc, which takes place on the final evening. Participants dress up as various incarnations of the devil and then create merry havoc as they run riot through the city streets. Fireworks are let loose inside confined alleyways, spraying their sparks at spectators and passers by. It’s perfectly safe, but I think my photographs managed to encapsulate a sort of dangerous and spectacular chaos, created through colour, that words cannot.
Do you have a particular inspiration with your photography?
Bar the natural beauty of everything around us, if I had to choose a photographer as my chief inspiration it would have to be Lee Miller. She exceeded all boundaries, ignored expectations and shot some truly beautiful images because of it!
Ironically she began on the other side of the camera posing as a cover model for Vogue, which goes to show you really can’t judge a book by its cover. She went on to become the first female war photographer – a result of her stubborn determination to overcome gender stereotype and a dogged natural talent that could not be ignored. Not only were her subjects hugely emotive and uniquely unbiased, but also her style didn’t sacrifice any of its beautiful aesthetics to achieve that emotion. So she retained her photographs commercial appeal in the process.
Given the nature of the photos you take, mobile photography must be pretty important to you. What do you look for in a mobile phone camera?
Although a phones primary function is to communicate, I always find myself looking firstly at the camera functions quality and control. Of course I have my DSLR, but there’s no doubt that a camera phone is a fantastic tool. When you pull out a professional camera, everyone becomes very aware that they are being photographed, but with a smartphone it’s very easy to get natural shots of people from behind the subtler lens of a phone. Weight holds another advantage over the traditional camera, particularly when you’re dangling half way up a building suspended by a rope – changing lenses on a DSLR can become a bit of a hassle in that situation!
My main considerations when choosing a camera phone are sensor sizes, pixel number and, most importantly, low light capacity. The latest Xperia Z3 Compact excels in all of these departments. My work is shot mostly at night within dark tunnels and badly lit locations, and the simple fact is that a lot of other camera phones aren’t capable of meeting the demands of these low light conditions.
Most of the photos you’ve shared with us were taken with an Xperia Z1 Compact – were you impressed the capabilities of the phone?
All of the photos bar the one featuring myself were taken on the Xperia Z1 Compact. At that point, I had actually come to trust the phone camera on it so much, and was frankly so impressed by its low-light capacity, that I didn’t even bother bringing my DSLR to Barcelona street carnival with me! The phone was ideal in those conditions; shooting unpredictable and dilating light sources with clarity, perfect focus, and exceptional exposure. Not only was I dealing with moving subjects, but I was also on the run myself when I was shooting them.
What’s your favourite photo you’ve taken recently?
If I had to choose then it would have to be a shot I took recently at the bar on the 52nd floor of The Shard, in London, that I took with my new Xperia Z3 Compact. The wider lens on that model worked perfectly to capture the magnificent landscapes that can be seen from up there.
What’s next for you? Off on any more adventures soon?
I’ve got a few things in the pipeline, but part of the appeal of life as an adventure photographer is that you never know exactly what will be around the corner. I guess you’ll just have to keep an eye on my website and Facebook page for updates!