JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
JUAN ABALLE: As a child I don’t remember having many plans for the future, but I truly loved music and going to the movies (I clearly remember leaving the movie theater absolutely impressed after watching E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). When I was 15, I got my first camera (a 35mm compact) and started to document my life as an exchange student in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on photography.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
JA: I’m constantly inspired by films, literature, painting and of course, lots of photography (the lists could be endless). Right now I’m reading My Last Breath by spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, whom I find fascinating. While working on my last project I’ve also been inspired by the work of many great american authors like John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, John Cheever or Cormac MacArthy.
JC: What are you up to right now?
JA: I’ve been travelling a lot this year, mostly thanks to a film commission in Latin America. Now back in Madrid (Spain), I’m starting to prepare an exhibition and a photobook about my last project Country Fictions.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
JA: The best mentors I’ve had are a few close friends and family members who believed in my work. They have always encouraged me to keep doing these things that don’t necessarily have to do with making money.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
JA: After years abroad I’m now based in Madrid, the city where I was born. These years in Madrid have been fundamental in the development of my last project; the friends I have lived with, the times in our lives, the many roads leaving the city to reach very different corners of the Iberian Peninsula…
The places where I’ve been based have always had a huge influence on me and my work. Living in the USA or moving to Berlin in the mid 90’s were vital experiences that have shaped who I am and what I do.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
JA: Think about what you are doing and specially about why you are doing it. If it is true and comes from inside, go for it with all your heart.
I once got to interview Todd Hido and one of the questions was quite similar. I believe his answer is also a great piece of advise for all photograpers who are starting their career: print your images. A photograph on a piece of paper is a fantastic object.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
JA: Whether it is plan B, C or D, photography will always be a huge part of my life.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
JA: For me the creative process is quite a lonely one. Of course I keep in touch with a few good friends who are also mad about photography and we talk about our work, our interests and our creative troubles. Such conversations help a lot bringing fresh air into one’s own little world, but in the end making the images and editing the work means taking many (difficult) decisions, which in my case, are very personal ones.