Interview: Rubén Álvarez

Rubén Álvarez is a highly-gifted artist, retoucher and photographer out of Spain. Álvarez joined us for an interview to talk about his passion for automotive photography, retouching, and the dynamics between a photographer and retoucher.

You love cars, so working in automotive photography must be a dream come true. How did your love for cars come about, and when did your journey into automotive photography begin?

 I’ve always been curious by the evolution of cars over the years, both visually and engineering. After being selected to be the image of photoshop, a friend of mine offered me an opportunity retouching cars, back then I’ve only had some experience doing matte paintings, I thought that it was time to experiment and investigate. Some years later, here I am, I keep learning and trying every day to be a better professional.

We like the strength and cinematic look of your series A Jaguar in Iceland. How did you come up with the concept? And also, what has been the feedback from the client?

 If something characterizes me, it is that I am always thinking of special projects. Something that has never been done before (even if everything is already invented) something unique that you could never believe. Hence comes the concept of A Jaguar in Iceland, a wild animal represented by a car with the same name, with the same characteristics, in a country where you will never find such an animal like this. Fortunately, everything was perfect, and I recently have had the opportunity to do a second version with that cinematic look, to see how my way of seeing the same project has changed two years later.

Credit: Rubén Álvarez
Credit: Rubén Álvarez

Could you please describe to us the work dynamics and interaction between the photographer and the retoucher?

 I think that for the development of a project, there always has to be an understanding between professionals and styles. The style of the retoucher is not always fitting perfectly with the style of the photographer and vice versa. Personally, I try to adapt to everything, but as retouchers, we are in the major part of the cases required to follow some guidelines, either from the photographer or from an art director. That is why, when I enjoy my work the most is when I have complete freedom.

Looking at your trajectory, one can see an evolution from digital art and matte painting to photography and retouching. How was this transition?

 The transition actually came on its own, one day I opened some car photos in photoshop, then I realized that I was starting to improve, that everything I have learned previously could be applied to a whole new field. I think that my matte painting experience helped me a lot, in terms of composition, atmospheres and colour, but I am also improving my weaknesses which perhaps I would not have if I had started directly in the automotive industry. In the end, more than your skills using software or hardware, what really matters is your criteria; if it is good, it will be as much in matte painting as in photography or retouching.

Credit: Tony Harmer (photo), Rubén Álvarez (retouching)

If you could choose any car (classic or modern) to do a photo reportage, which one would it be?

 Honestly, the most important thing for me is not just the car; it is also the place and the working conditions, in short, the experience you live during the course of the project, from carrying out the first idea to the trip, the days taking the photos and the hours in front of the computer retouching them being sure that everything is perfect. Anyway, if I had to choose one, I would love to go around the Alps with an Alfa Romeo Giulia QV.

Thank you for joining us Rubén!


If you would like to find more superb work by Rubén Álvarez, you can follow his Behance page.

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