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Meet Pablo Barrera

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pablo Barrera.

Pablo, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Hi, thanks for reaching out! Well, where do I start from? I was born and raised in Argentina. During my teenage years I used to vacation in Miami pretty frequently, and I felt in love with this place from the first time.

Since I was a kid the beach was my very idea of paradise, and here I found not only the most beautiful one I had ever seen, but also an exciting city full of life, colors, and amazing people. It was so sad every time I had to go back to my routine in my hometown. A few years later, however, some personal circumstances brought me here again. But this time, it was time to stay.

I found in a nice resort on the beach the perfect job to live the beach life I had dreamed of. Being surrounded by sunlight and nature was all I needed to feel blissful. And you know,  when you get to experience such a peaceful connection like this, with the water, the sand, the air, somehow you realize that the world has very little to offer to you.

However, years went by, and by the time of my 33rd birthday, my parents were visiting me here, and my mother decided she wanted to give me a photographic camera. I initially rejected the offer with something like: “I don’t need a camera, I’m not gonna use it”. She kept insisting though to the point where, just to avoid some family drama, I decided to accept it.

I remember very well the moment I hanged that camera on me. It was like a stamp, a sudden and unexpected feeling of belonging there. I knew it was the beginning of a journey. My ignorance in photography though was such that the camera had arrived broken and I hadn’t even noticed. For the first few days I thought I was taking pictures until a friend came by to visit and checked it out. He told me the autofocus wasn’t working, to which I replied with something like: “what the heck is autofocus?”

Luckily, it didn’t take more than two weeks to have it repaired and shipped back.

At that point, the lack of financial resources for a formal education combined with a sense of urgency I had about it, made me decide to just go ahead and start this new journey all by myself. Internet, books, etc., I became like a detective looking for information everywhere I could get it from, and of course, taking pictures all the time, to everything. With the camera in my hands, the world had suddenly become a much more interesting and exciting place. Even though I was trying to learn all the technicalities quickly, I was forced to rely more on my own intuition and sense of aesthetics than on anything else. And then it started to happen: I would be at home looking at the pictures I had taken and be like: “wow, how did I do this?” It felt like if a certain magic was being manifested. I was thrilled, in love. And I began to understand that photography could be a bridge, a crossover between my inner vision and the outside world. It had become a sacred obsession, a miracle drug.

As it always happens I guess, people around began to notice, and I started to get requests to shoot here and there. My first jobs were the most difficult ones. I had to overcome a lot of personal inhibitions and insecurities, and get used to the dynamics and uncertainty that are singular to this art. 

From the beginning I was very attracted to photographing people as a means of exploring human emotions and the human psyche in general. I could see how much information could be absorbed through an image. But I was not interested in fashion photography. The impression I had from magazines was of something rather superfluous and meaningless. One day though, I saw these two women on the beach taking some snapshots between them with some fabulous dresses, and, thinking that they were some random tourists, I very shyly approached them to offer my services. It turned out that she was a famous designer from Europe, with her assistant, and she was here in Miami with an old friend of mine, also a fashion designer from Europe, that I had not seen in many years. Long story short, a few days later I was doing my first fashion shoot, and that experience changed completely my perspective about it. I realized how sensitive and artistic both fashion designers and models are, and I understood it was the most appropriate field to express my creativity.

And before I knew, I was doing fashion campaigns for designers from all over the world, artists, models, etc., and I got to exhibit my  work in one of Miami’s greatest art galleries, and I still do.

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been more like a big bang, a sudden explosion full of shadows and highlights, of magical moments and also of some painful deceptions. I guess the struggles come almost naturally when you follow the road of passion. It’s not a good world for that. In the beginning, people won’t believe in you. They won’t recognize you, until they may not have any other choice. Personally, I’ve found in the highness of creativity both my greatest reward and the energy source to overcome all the obstacles and struggles. That source seems to remain totally immune to the world outside and has kept me in a permanent state of expansion and growth, no matter how hard things can get.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
Well, my photography is two dimensional, which somehow reflects the two dimensions of my life experience. The first one is fine art photography, in which I project my connection with nature and with existence in general. It’s influenced by some personal experiences, like lucid dreams and other altered states of consciousness. It’s mostly centered in Miami and I think it shows it as a city of colors, as a magical place. From another perspective, it can also be interpreted as a questioning of the very nature of reality.

The other one is my fashion and portrait photography, centered in the exploration of the human nature, with it’s emotions, desires, etc., and the search for it’s meaning. I like to combine elements from surrealism, religion, mythologies, fantasy, to create images that are very sensual but also very emotional and thought provoking. I’m always aiming at new visual horizons, and at experiencing beauty from different and deeper perspectives.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Well, the beach is basically the reason why I live here, and the fact that you can enjoy it year round because of the weather, but I also like the city, especially south beach, and the kind of laid back lifestyle it offers. I like the fact that you’re always meeting people from all over the world, weather they live here or not.

And what I don’t like? Maybe the music you hear in most places lol, but I guess I can live with that.. 

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