Tomás Mantilla

Tomás Mantilla

FC Barcelona museum and Camp Nou experience

by Tomás Mantilla (Colombia)

At the moment, I’m 19 years old and I just graduated from high school. My passion for photography started when I found my mom’s old film camera and I started to shoot street photography. Since then I have been interested in photographing stories that are meaningful to me.

During this workshop I worked in a project about the Commercial exploitation of the FC Barcelona, as is known the team generates millions of Euros each year through advertisement, official products and tickets for the matches. Besides, the “FC Barcelona museum and Camp Nou experience” is the most visited in Cataluña rather than the Dalí de Figueres or the Picasso museum of Barcelona.

Portfolio from the Visual storytelling workshop with Ed Kashi, April 2015.

Written review by JENNY SMETS,
Photography consultant, photo editor. Curator and educator.

I have never met Tomas Mantila but If a young male photographer originally is from Colombia, and follows a workshop in Barcelona, it is probably no wonder that he chooses a football related subject to work upon. Tomas Mantilla (19) chose as the subject of his story the commercial exploitation of FC Barcelona. FC Barcelona, the Museum and Camp Nou are amongst the main tourists attractions for the city of Barcelona and in this sense an economic factor that is worth millions. The topic is good. It is an up to date topic, especially with the upcoming World Cup in Quatar and the discussions that arise from that over the (over) commercialization of the Cup and the huge business interests involved.

But this is also not the easiest topic. Why? Because there are not so much human relations involved , it is a sort of abstract subject in which no direct emotion is included. Advertisements, products, ticket sale, these are all rather abstract notions. Did Tomas find a solution to tackle this problem ? In a way he did . He tried to tell about the different aspects of the commercialization and still involve people in there. Fans, passers by, tourists are included in the photographs. This made his story more human but still there are a lot of photographs in the story that are on products and location. It is always more difficult to build a story on an abstract theme if you don’t have people you get to know or can identify with. Like one main character you get close to or a group of people you can follow. The result as I see it a series of good single images that in the end result in a group of photographs on a certain theme.

One of the first things I noticed is the explicit ways that color is used within the images. It is used in a way that it becomes an essential element in the image, and that it determines the feeling of the photographs . Colorful, primary, almost screaming for attention. It is a way of using color I don’t always like, but in this case I think it is appropriate and fitting with the subject of football and commerce. Still I think you need to be careful not to overdo it. The soccer field is green, but if you give to much saturation to it, it might go wrong if you try to print it .

If I go through the photographs one by one I see first the tourists in the FC Barcelona museum. I didn’t immediately understand from the photograph that this was the location, but I liked the cheerful character of it. From the caption I understand that later on the visitors get the photoshopped version in which they are wearing the official club uniform. Maybe it would have been an idea to show this as well ? Or show a bit more from the inside of the museum and what you can see there besides this one photograph ?

The next two photographs are from the outside of the team megastore. The first one with the Qatar airways billboard is a well composed image that keeps the attention even if you don’t know where it is taken. The relation to the subject is clear and useful. As for the second, the bridge between megastore and stadium, this is more informative but not immediately interesting as a photograph. Without the caption information I would t have known what is was.

The parking lot of Camp Nou where children are playing soccer. I think this is a very interesting photograph because I don’t immediately understand how Tomas took it, but the result is intriguing . And that is an important function of a photograph, to keep the attention to the story. Even if the construction of the image is a puzzle, the subject of football is still very clear because of the game of the children, but also because of the Fc Barcelona colors and the sign of the football.

The stadium obviously is an important photograph to complete the story. The empty stadium is esthetically and interesting because of the graphic lines and the composition. For the content of the story the other 2 that appear later in the story are more interesting. Especially because in these you see the advertisement and other commercial displays. The inside of the megastore photographs are very informative and well found moments. The muslim woman looking at the shirt is of course interesting since it is another reference to the Qatar location of the World Cup.

In conclusion I would say that Tomas succeeded in showing us a story on the commercial aspects of football in Barcelona. If he would have had more time (which I know he didn’t) I would have advised him to look for more locations and go even deeper into the story. For instance by trying to contact team itself while they are involved in commercial activities. But given the fact that he had only a short period of time to shoot I think the result is good. I can see he is a creative photographer who engages his audience by experimenting with different compositions and the explicit use of color.

Given the fact he is still young I assume that this was one of his first serious attempts in storytelling. It looks promising. I am very curious what Tomas Mantilla will do in the future with his photographs, especially what will happen if he works on a more human interest story.

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