Francisco Gomez de Villaboa is a 30-year old freelance picture editor and photographer with a background in graphic design. Originally from Spain, he is now based in London and specialises in photography with a fashion and activist bent. His colourful and cinematic images have appeared in the likes of Clash Magazine and Elegant Magazine and his clients have included Ted Baker, Junky Styling and Kotur among many others. He speaks to us about his motivation, inspiration and why being an Ad Hoc Guardian suits his lifestyle.
Where are you originally from? How did you come to be based in London?
I am originally from a town in southern Spain called Rota, quite well known for having a US military base since the 50s. I have always wanted to come to London to live in a really big city. After five years working for a big newspaper in Spain, I decided it was time to fly and find a place with enough stimuli to keep growing and learning. For sure, a hectic city like London was the perfect place…ignoring the weather issue of course. Hahaha!
How did you come to be a Guardian?
Well the main reason was that I was fed up with my landlord making us dodgy contracts of each room in a flat share without a living room, a tiny kitchen and raising the rent all the time. With that sort of contract he was entitled to change our contract basis in one month and he was also entitled to enter the flat when he wanted. I was tired of feeling I was getting ripped off and I heard about the property guardianships.
You describe your work as including art, fashion and activism. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Lets say that everything is connected to art and that I have two faces, ‘Art and Activism’ and ‘Fashion and Art’. When I do project-based photography for exhibitions and commissions, I always want my work to have a message, especially a message that can move and encourage people to do or believe in something. ‘Activism’ means to me a dose of realness after such a hectic way of living. This society can trap us between very superficial and selfish thoughts. Activism is that part of me that keeps me conscious about where I live and how lucky I am. We all should know, and it’s good trying to help people and defend causes that no one cares about. It could be to raise awareness about a social issue, support other people’s needs, fight against injustice for example. I always try to make it very visual so it is exciting for either the viewer that is more interested in ‘the look’ or the one more interested in ‘the message’.
I think fashion is a very, very big commercial world but art is very related to fashion. All in fashion is about creating and selling something, and as a photographer you use fashion creatively to make people believe your story. As with everything, when there is money involved it is very difficult to do whatever you want to do, but when it comes to playing with fashion as a tool to present new ideas working with a team and magazines – it is very exciting.
At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to make photography your career?
I come from a graphic design background and I have been always especially interested in collages and photo editing. Working on the newspaper, I used to look at all the international pictures from the photo agencies every day. It was a good resource of pictures and I used to enjoy playing with them just for fun. One day I decide I wanted to work with my own archive to make my own creations so I bought a camera and I went out to the street. Obviously since then photography overtook my life!
What work have you done that makes you the most proud?
Wow that is a difficult question. I guess you always feel closer to the pictures that you have done more recently, so I feel very attached to a project that I did last summer in my hometown about children with learning disabilities and their families, one of those children is also my nephew. I spent time with all the families and with the children too and I could experience overwhelming moments of love and great stories of overcoming difficulties. Somehow I haven’t publish that yet, so if I needed to say something that has been published, I would go for X-press Yourself that has been a cover in two newspapers and is quite revolutionary.
Who is your favourite photographer and why?
It is crazy but I do not have a favourite photographer. Most of the time, I like to find my inspiration in painters and art in general, even if it is for fashion. If there was fashion photographer that I would put in my top list I would go for Nick Knight.
How important is the collaborative process, and working with other people to your work?
The collaborative process is pretty much the structure and engine of this creative environment. In my opinion working with other professionals is the only way up. People with passion and energy need to find the same kind of people to learn and grown. Especially in such a highly competitive environment. People are becoming more and more independent but I think people together can be much stronger. I am passionate about people and collaborations are what make my work possible.
Does being a Guardian have an impact on helping you with your work?
There is a connection and friendliness in the building. The impact of being a Guardian on my work has been pretty beneficial. Before I would have only been able to get an average room for the same price that I now have a room and a little studio where I work most of the time. This place is calm and peaceful and sometimes I also shoot some of my work here. It definitely made my life a bit easier so I could focus better on my career.
What do you have in store for 2015?
I spoke before about the project “El Amar”, with children with learning disabilities, I also have another project made in Cuba with Transgender women and I have a lot of fashion coming because I recently started working at WWD magazine. I love this job, the people, and the environment. So 2015 is for sure bringing me a lot of excitement already.
You can see more of Francisco’s work at www.GomezdeVillaboa.com and follow him on twitter at @GodeViPhoto