All images by Pedro Vidal. Used with permission.
“Shooting makes me see things in a beautiful way,” says Barcelona based documentary photographer, Pedro Vidal. He adds, “To photograph is to rediscover your surroundings and that’s what motivates me the most.” Vidal is a multi-disciplined creative whose photography focuses on human form and behavior. After spending some time with his work, enthralled by its beauty, we knew we had to offer him our platform. Join us as we get to know him better, and take a look at his latest project, Dégagé.
“I believe my project has a great and unknown subject, which is the backstage of one of the most important ballets in the world. We all get to know what’s happening on the stage, but not that many of us have any idea of the beautiful world that is behind the curtains.” — Pedro Vidal
Pedro Vidal: Dégagé
Vidal’s take on Ballet mirrors what the artform intends to be – elegant, energetic, and full of story. But rather than focusing on performance, Vidal turns his lens on preparation. “From a photographic point of view, the backstage has its complications: dark and narrow environments, lots of movement, intense activity with everyone very concerned with their work.”
His personal love for ballet led him to start the series. And when the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (National Ballet of Cuba) began touring in his home city, Barcelona, it was the perfect time to combine his passions: photography and dance.
The title of the series, Dégagé, is French for disengage. “It is a typical ballet movement that is taught from the first classes of the discipline,” says Vidal. “In dégagé, the dancer’s feet move away from the support leg, their center of balance. This project translates, through photographs, the development behind the performances of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba while they were away from home, outside their center.”
Ballet in Barcelona
The series was shot at Barcelona’s Tívoli theatre, in 2019. The group came to perform its Swan Lake and Cinderella shows, two of the most famous performances within Ballet. Regarding his intentions for the series, Vidal told The Phoblographer, “In this documentary, I focus on human development that precedes acting, on the work that makes it real.”
Dégagé is a beautiful insight into the vulnerability that comes with performing on the grand stage. While theatergoers are able to enjoy a polished performance, Pedro Vidal was able to see the journey towards it. “There is intense activity every day. From classes, rehearsals, dressing tests, many conversations, lots of practice, etc. The artists and dancers focus their entire lives on this environment and it is this dedication that makes everything go flawlessly.”
When asked how he felt being given intimate access to an art form he loves so much, Vidal explains, “I feel privileged to be able to translate the construction of this magnificent work with my photography, to be present while something so special takes shape.”
Who Is Pedro Vidal?
Pedro Vidal first connected to photography back in 2005. Like most beginners, he would shoot casually, with no real focus, and just enjoy the craft. “It was only in 2014 that I decided to study and began making a living off of my photography.”
His influences include Irving Penn, W. Eugene Smith, Sally Mann, and Francesca Woodman – all of whom put humanity at the center of their work. But it was the story of Sebastião Salgado that inspired him to push forward with his passion. “Sebastião Salgado made me believe that I could go after my dreams as well, that we should try to achieve great things.”
Although influenced by the masters, Vidal feels he has been able to carve out his own photographic identity. “I like to expose and understand the fantastic side that humans have. There are so many people doing unbelievable things, like ballerinas, artists, and many others that go far beyond what we call normal, it’s spectacular!”
Pedro Vidal’s Essential Gear
Like an artist who has their favorite paintbrush and a musician who has their favorite instrument, Vidal has his favorite cameras. “I’m using Fujifilm only,” he explains. “I own a Fujifilm XT3 and a Fujifilm X-E2.” He partners his cameras with a range of lenses. Inside his camera bag you will find a Fujifilm 27mm, 35mm, and the standard 18-55mm (a lens he describes as “The best kit lens ever!”)
Pedro Vidal is a self-proclaimed documenter. And while technique and creative vision defines a photographer, he doesn’t underestimate the importance of his tools.
“I do believe that the gear is very important to a photographer not only in a technical sense. You need to find the gear that inspires you to move on and shoot, and this is not always related to sharpness or pixel numbers.”
“My gear helps me feel comfortable where I have to be, to not intimidate people with massive lenses and huge bodies, and it does the job pretty well. We have to accept the fact that nowadays if you buy almost any camera made in the last five years, you’re going to have better equipment than most of the classical photographers you admire ever had.”
Vidal credits photography for being more than just an art form. The practice has allowed him to see the world, transform his perspective, and understand how he exists amongst it all. Not just creating photographs, but consuming them gives him the opportunity to understand life. “I love the results of looking at photographs, to be able to understand all these stories in life that photography tells us.”
Speak with most photographers and they’ll tell you photography isn’t something they do, but it makes up who they are. Without it, their life is nowhere near as complete. In closing, Pedro Vidal says, “I don’t believe I’m a great photographer, but I do depend on it to be happy and that definitely defines who I am.”
You can see more of Pedro’s work by visiting his website.