Jordi Ruiz Cirera Shoots Venezuela’s Villa Planchart for Le Monde M
Gaining repeat clients is one of the big aims for photographers, but when these freelancers lock down a consistent customer, that publication, agency, or brand normally comes back to pitch assignments similar to the ones the photographer previously completed for them.
Not so for Jordi Ruiz Cirera, who traveled to Caracas, Venezuela last year for his second project for French publication Le Monde M. It was a much different ask than his first gig with the magazine.
I had already worked for Le Monde M on a previous assignment in Mexico in early 2018 on a completely different topic: a story on migration across the Mexico-Guatemala border. They were really pleased with the results and with the slow approach to and aesthetics of medium format film, which I also very much like.
Then in June 2019, they reached out again with a proposal for an architecture story in Venezuela. They wanted the same visual approach — working on medium format film — and asked if I'd be available to go to Caracas for a few days.
One of the things Jordi appreciates about working with Le Monde M is the publication's circulation in France and around the world. This is especially pertinent with regards to his reportage work (like the aforementioned border story), but the other aspect of collaborating with a name-brand client is knowing there’s going to be a team of experts alongside him no matter the assignment.
As a documentary photographer, it’s really fulfilling to know the stories I’m working on are valued and run in publications with a good reach. Working for major outlets means collaborating with a larger team — in this case a photo editor, a writer who did part of the research beforehand, and a local fixer, all of whom added their insights to the story to make it as good as possible.
Jordi also embraces the challenges inherent to working with medium format film, his expertise in which has become a major lure to potential clients. While some photographers might feel the pressure that comes with film’s restrictions, Jordi sees such restrictions as opportunities to really hash out an image before capturing it.
What I especially like about working with a medium format film camera is the way it forces me to slow down and think carefully about each composition. You only have 12 frames on each roll, so you can't be shooting as much as you would with digital. To some, this could be seen as a limitation, but for me it’s an advantage because it forces me to be more thoughtful and creative from the start.
In a fortunate twist, Jordi had already studied the house he was shooting, Villa Planchart, while in college. The architect, Gio Ponti, is world-renowned for his work, making this a new endeavor for Jordi in multiple ways.
I've shot plenty of architecture and interiors for travel and lifestyle assignments, but I'd never done a full architecture feature before. Nor on work by such a famous architect. Nevertheless, I felt the challenge would be interesting and spent three full days in the house, focusing specifically on the materials and the geometry of Villa Planchart.
The house was, of course, thoroughly planned, so there were plenty of variations of light depending on the time of the day, shades coming through the blinds, things like that.
Happily, the client was immensely satisfied with the work, and Jordi was quite complimentary of the way his images were presented in the publication. Not only that, but the helpful people at the Villa who assisted Jordi during his work loved the final results as well.
I was glad to hear they were really pleased with the resulting work, and I feel they run a very beautiful layout on the magazine. The current directors of the Villa, who I met and who were very kind to me on my time there, were also very happy with it.
Check out more of Jordi's work at jordiruizphotography.com.
Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!