"Everything can be learned if you're curious enough..."

Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

This month we’re featuring Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera, a Singapore based photographer with a fantastic global perspective. His passion for photographing far-flung locales all over the world has the staff here amazed week after week. Join us now as we take deep dive into what makes Gonzalo tick in this week’s PIXEO Photographer feature.

10 Questions with Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

Marina Bay Sands Singapore - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you were born, where are you based out of?

I was born in Madrid (Spain) and grew up there in a fairly large family (I have 5 siblings) where my father used to travel quite extensively all over the world. He would show us pictures after each trip from all those remote places he visited, so I guess he somehow created the curiosity for photography.
Now I am living in Singapore, my work brought me here, and I have been here for the past 9 years. I have also lived in the US (TX), Spain (Madrid & Barcelona), Greece (Athens) and Germany (Munich).
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

Do you shoot full time or part-time?

I would say occasional-time. I have a demanding job and can only enjoy photography very occasionally. Mostly when I am travelling for work and have to spend the weekend abroad from home. Then I take the chance to visit the place and take pictures.

How did you get into photography?

I started very late. I always thought photography was too complicated and I was not very artistic anyhow.
When the digital cameras entered the market, it was the time when I had my children. I got one camera and took pictures of our family, trying to capture with images their development. I soon realized how viewing those images brought back the emotions of that moment. So I decided to use photography to create the biography of our lives (and I still do).
I got recognition from my family and friends, and that encouraged me to learn more. I never thought I would be able to take good pictures, but the motivation of small successes made me try to master a little bit more and so on. Then I told myself; everything can be learned if you are curious enough, and practice enough. Then you have your whole life ahead to improve. Also, I don’t want to be a pro, I just wanted to enjoy my pictures, and slowly but surely my skills developed.
At the same time, my professional life involves extensive international travel which allows me to explore new cities. That brought me into travel photography, urban photography, and more and more people photography, which I do increasingly enjoy.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Artificial Trees at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore.

Who would you say are your major photographic influences?

I consider myself still a beginner, very enthusiastic, but always learning. I regularly read Photography magazines, and I like to see pictures on different platforms (PIXEO, 500px, Instagram, …..) where I learn a lot, and it inspires me to try new things.
Flower Dome and Cloud Forest by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
View of Flower Dome and Cloud Forest taken at night.

Which photo of yours are you most proud of?

I like many, hard to choose one, but If I have to select one, I would go for the picture of a very young girl from the northern tribes of Thailand. She was wearing a traditional local dress begging around a temple while taking care of her few months old sibling. We engaged with her and gave her money to take some pictures. She was amazing. Maybe is not the best technically, but overall a great picture when I consider the moment.
Northern Thai Girl - Photo by Gonzalo Ruize Calavera
Photo by Gonzalo Ruize Calavera

Can you describe your process when approaching a shoot at a new photo location?

I invest a lot of time (probably too much) researching. But honestly, I like it. I start enjoying the shooting in this planning phase.
  1. Searching on the internet for the best photo locations in that place. Deciding which ones I want to tackle.
  2. Itineraries, plotting everything in “google my maps”
  3. For every place, I research other photographers to get inspired on the best place, composition, settings and time to shoot that target.
Empress Lawn Mirror Balls - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Empress Lawn Mirror Balls - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

What is your favourite photographic destination that you’ve been to and why?

India. I call it paradise for a photographer. You can take a million shots and still feel you have missed so much. It has a unique combination of great light, colors everywhere, from clothing to landscapes, cities and markets, very diverse geography and abundance of historical sites, and above all, amazing people.
Pan de Azúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Pan de Azúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

What photo places are next on your photographic bucket list?

Laos is currently under planning. Although I might take some shots first in my upcoming trip to Maldives for Spring Break.
Christ the Redeemer - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera
Christ the Redeemer - Photo by Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera

Can you describe some of the gear you can’t shoot without?

Of course my beloved Nikon 7500.
3 Lenses:
  • Nikon DX  VR AF-S Nikkor 18-105’m 1:3.5-5.6 GFD
  • Nikon DX AF-S 55-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 GED
  • SIGMA EX 10-20mm 1:4-5.6 DC HSM
My tripod SIRUI and my iPhone, where I have all my plans and the app to geolocate the positions to add in postproduction.
I also carry an iPad connected wireless to the camera to review shots in detail when needed.

Where can folks find/see/buy more of your work?

I have been trying several platforms, and recently decided to move my work to 500px (Gonzalo Ruiz Calavera). I am still in the process of updating it. Would be happy to get feedback from the community and connect with them too to follow their portfolio and keep learning new things.
I am getting excited about PIXEO, as it helps a lot with the planning of new locations. So I promise to upload more content of the places I have been to help other fellow photographers.
Finally, I use Instagram (@goruca64) as an easy way to share pictures with my family and friends.

A huge thanks again to Gonzalo for taking the time to answer our questions. Without a doubt, this photographer is well worth keeping an eye on. Be sure to follow him on his Instagram, and get your entries into this months PIXEO Photo Challenge. You too could be the recipient of a $50 Amazon Gift Card and next months feature.

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