We are excited to share the contributor interview with Juan Moyano. Juan is an artist who does not shy away from showing the beautiful ugly side of food or tackling a wide range of concepts with his signature sense of humor and visual style.
You have a wonderful quirky — in the best sense of the word — style and we’re curious to hear about your process from conception of the idea to the final work.
I would like to say that I have a complex method of work, but it is not like that. I work together with my husband, I am dedicated to the creative part and he is dedicated to the rest, which allows me to focus exclusively on creating.
I have notebooks spread around the house where I write down the ideas and concepts that come to mind, at any time of the day I can be thinking about a session. When I am clear about the concept, it is already a matter of finding the objects: in stores (I try to start with the ones in my neighborhood), on the internet or anywhere.
Once I am in the studio, I prepare the lighting and the arrangement of everything. I don’t usually take a lot of shots within the session. When it comes to editing, the software I use first is Capture One and then Photoshop.
Looking at your portfolio the range of different topics is extremely broad. Where do you find inspiration for your next shoots?
I believe that inspiration does not come out of nowhere, but requires effort. Creativity, we all have it and it is a matter of working on it. I do not dedicate myself to a single type of photography, but I move in different styles and themes. It is not something premeditated, but it is like that, I usually get bored soon and then I am changing.
I have many references and visual cultures, my inspiration comes from many different sources: decoration and food magazines from the 70s, the “more is more” from the 80s, cinema, fashion editorials, trend magazines, fashion from excesses of the 2000s, cheap stores, plastic … I think I could say thousands of things that inspire me, but in summary I would say that any photographic movement that uses color and saturation.
Your work often shows food in a very honest way that is not always the most appetizing. What qualities are you looking for when creating work with food?
I have two extremes when photographing food. Or real food where imperfections are visible (leftovers for example, I love leftovers), or very fake food, even plastic. Sometimes I am inspired by food photography from the 70s and 80s, with flower tablecloths, color saturation, the more the better, and other times I go to minimalism with only food and a simple colored background. And what amuses me a lot is playing with food, spilling it, throwing it away, squeezing it, squeezing it…all very viscous.
The concepts you create frequently have a clever sense of humor to them. What are some overarching themes in your work that are important for you to get across to the viewer/clients?
I try to play with irony and humor in many of my photos, the themes can be very varied. As a person who belongs to the LGBTIQ+ community, one of the recurring themes is everything that has to do with the group, trying not to fall into clichés and help make it more visible.
My photos do not have a social message, that is better done by other photographers, mine are more conceptual. I have many different topics in my portfolio and I always try to find a different approach. The important thing for me is that the concept is well understood.
The amount of different objects, backdrops, outfits, etc. in your work is impressive. How do you store all of this and keep track of what you have ready to work with?
I have two very large cabinets in the studio where I keep all my pots and funds. I would like to say that I have everything very neat, but I would burn in hell for being a liar. More than once I have gone crazy looking for an object, I am chaotic, but I am lucky that my husband is the complete opposite of me and he finds it for me right away, it is his superpower. Every beginning of the year I make it my goal to have everything in his place, but I never succeed.
What is a shoot that you are proud of as it gave you the biggest challenge when creating it? What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
There is a session for me that was very special, but not because it was technically complicated, but more on a personal level. It was after the death of my father and right in my recovery from an operation. I was not at my best and the opportunity to take photos in an old house came up, in which I used a retro-style record player and retro props. I thought it was going to be a disaster, I hardly ever take photos outside my studio, because I like to control everything, but instead it turned out very well and I am very proud, I have special affection for it.
If you could execute any creative idea — with no budget restraints or logistical limits — what would it be?
I do not dream of large productions because it is not the type of photography in which I am comfortable, what I would like sometimes is to have a good chef to make me the strangest dishes in the world, with a lot of color and a lot of volume.
Do you have any hidden talents besides creating your wonderful work?
I think dancing, although my friends would tell you that I’m arrhythmic, but I have such a good time…Well, seriously, is daydreaming a talent? LOL
Are you “always-on” or do you need your moments to disconnect to recharge?
I am not always on, when I am not working I love to be off, although it depends on the time it sometimes costs me more to disconnect, I have a quite obsessive character and sometimes it is difficult for my head to stop thinking.
If you need to recharge, how do you normally recharge?
To recharge my batteries, what works the most for me are travel, and in summer the beach, I am a marine animal and I love swimming, snorkeling and contemplating the sea. I can sit for hours watching the waves. In winter when I am saturated I go roller skating and to the movies, which is one of my passions.