“Those cries of wonder when my students see the aurora borealis for the first time fill my heart”
Paco Farero is a landscape photographer from Spain who specialises in nighttime photography. His images are a blend of impressive landscapes, astrophotography, and light painting. However, he never lets technical challenges take away the emotional connection and beauty within his photographs.
Paco is passionate about teaching, photography, and travel, and has managed to fork out a career where he is able to successfully combine the three activities.
DIYP: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your photography and how you got started in landscape photography?
Paco: I have been a professional photographer since 2011, and full-time since 2015. That’s when I abandoned my career as a naval engineer to dedicate myself to what I was really passionate about. I spend most of my time giving photography training, doing courses and photography trips around the world. I also teach photography at the University Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid, and I am an ambassador for Canon España.
In my work, I try to show how I feel when I am surrounded by nature. I shoot mostly at night, giving a lot of importance to the experience, the feelings and the exploration of the taking the image. It’s what I call ‘Slow Photography’, which gives more importance to the journey than the final goal or image. The message of the image or the moment that it is taken is a fundamental part of photography.
I have always been attracted to the contact with nature, initially hiking. After an invitation from some friends to go with them to take pictures at night, everything changed, and I fell completely in love with this way of shooting. I hope it will always be like that.
DIYP: What place has inspired you the most to shoot? If you could photograph any place in the world (or beyond!), where would it be and why?
Paco: Undoubtedly Iceland, where I have found everything I look for when I photograph: incredible and different landscapes from volcanoes to icy beaches; fantastic light, the magic of the northern lights, a changing climate that provides spectacular moments. That’s why I have visited it more than 30 times.
I have many places I want to visit and photograph: New Zealand, Patagonia, Bolivia, and Northern Argentina. Maybe this last destination is the one I want to visit the most because it is relatively unknown, but at the same time similar to another place I love: Landmannalaugar in Iceland.
DIYP: What is your favourite equipment, and what do you always take with you on shoots?
Paco: Until a few days ago, it was my Canon 5D Mark IV and the EF 16-35mm f/4 with the 70-200mm. Now I’ve changed it for the Canon EOS R6 Mark II, and I couldn’t be happier. I also take the 100-500mm on my trips.
Of course, I always carry a tripod, flashlights and filters. It’s a lot of weight on my back!
DIYP: What is the most difficult thing about landscape photography? What advice would you give to someone who wants to do it professionally?
Paco: In general, being a photographer is not an easy profession. First of all, when you are a freelancer, you have to know a little bit of everything: management, marketing, sales, IT…and photography. But I believe that, with passion, training and practice, everything can be achieved. I always encourage my students that if they are really passionate, they should try it and not be discouraged by what the people around them may tell them.
DIYP: Has anything ever gone wrong, or have you ever been in danger during a trip or a shoot?
Paco: I’m a person who likes to plan trips meticulously. I like to arrive with enough light for night shoots and drive very carefully. But things can always happen outside of your control when out in nature. I’ve suffered falls in the mountains, got soaking wet due to a sudden tide rise in Wales, had bumpy landings in Madeira, and frozen several fingers in Iceland because of being too focused on flying a drone over a volcano.
DIYP: What do you like most about being a landscape photographer?
Paco: I like the contact with nature, the feeling of being free and enjoying a unique environment. On the other hand, I love being able to teach all this to students who come to my workshops. Those screams and cries of wonder when they see the aurora borealis for the first time are indelible and fill my heart.
DIYP: If you had to shoot another photographic genre, which one would you choose?
Paco: I used to be a wedding photographer for almost 4 years, and I loved to portray that unique and happy moment for people. Unfortunately, in the end, it stopped inspiring me, and I switched to landscape photography. I would also like to be a wildlife photographer.
DIYP: Each week, we ask a question from another photographer. This one is from Bella Kotak:
Have you ever suffered from creative burnout, and if so, how did you overcome it?
It has happened to me a couple of times, and it lasted for a few months. The first time was on my return from my first trip to Iceland. I was so impressed that I couldn’t find any motivation to photograph in Spain.
The last time was a year ago. Both times I have been “cured” by letting time pass and not forcing myself to go out and take pictures. I read a lot about creativity, trained myself in other disciplines and talked to other professionals. Even if we believe that something isn’t working, in reality, new inspiration and ideas are being created in our brains that will come out sooner or later.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe