Albert Palen is a self-taught photographer, currently based in London.
Albert studied Art and Illustration, but never valued photography enough, naively believing that starting with a blank paper was the genuine way to create. But then, backpacking New Zealand solo for a year in a 1983 Toyota van brought an unexpected change of direction for him. The following addiction to travel grew hand in hand with documenting his adventures. Hunting landscapes, portraits and stories slowly became an obsession, and then he realised that capturing imagery across the globe had been his real passion all along. Albert’s work emphasises landscape and strong portraiture, bringing a taste of remote locations to his audience.
Five Questions to Albert Palen
How would you describe your photography to someone who has never seen it?
I like to collect and share stunning places, strong looking portraits, and special moments that would have been lost in time. I try to capture powerful shots, either beautiful or not, but interesting. My purpose is to take the audience to scenes they may never been to, sharing different worlds that actually exist in our very same planet; landscapes, people, or moments from remote locations.
What makes a great photograph?
To me a great photograph relies on aesthetics and visual storytelling. For that matter, composition and theme are key. It’s up to you in what way you invest every bit of your frame. It is like opening a little magic window to whoever is watching. What you show, who you show, and what they’re doing is what the audience will receive. Make it something interesting.
What’s your main source of inspiration when you’re behind the camera?
There are three things that fuel my inspiration to reach a creative state: interacting with people, curiosity, and music. Either while photographing someone I just met, climbing a mountain just to see what’s behind, or hunting down a landscape for sunrise… these ingredients give me the kick of inspiration I need.
How is the photography industry changing in the digital era?
Unfortunately I haven’t experienced too much the non-digital era within photography. I studied Art and Illustration, and only touched on photography in a course on short films. However, what lies ahead is already changing the way we creators work. Content for smartphones and tablets is already conditioning formats, favouring vertical landscapes for example. And things like VR are eliminating the idea of a limited frame, which is something I find very interesting.
Have you heard of Blockchain and if so, what are your views on it?
My only knowledge about Blockchain comes from a few TED talks and a few articles on the web. I am excited to hear that some people actively work to find a way to improve things. I hear the technology will bring power to the people, making everything a bit more fair for everyone. And at the same time give the world hope for many of its main issues, such as poverty, receding economies, or climate change. It will take time, but I genuinely hope it works.