Inspired by the power of public protest he witnessed while in university studying economics, Paco Elvira (Barcelona 1948) began photographing university students’ struggle against Franco’s regime. Although, back then, he was just another young amateur, these early experiences left an indelible mark on his professional style: he aligns his heart with his eyes to intelligently photograph ideas.

By the time Franco died, Paco Elvira was already a brave and curious professional reporter dealing with the important topics developing during the difficult period of Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. He has always concentrated on social issues, looking deeper into the current events he reports on for magazines.

Paco approaches all of these stories with immense empathy for the women and men who lived them. While the subjects of the photographs are chosen to reflect the present, their testimony has helped people both revisit the past and imagine the future.

Throughout his career, Paco Elvira has made daily life the subject of his incessant photographic exploration by describing the world, expressing his opinion, and creating art at the same time. Following in the tradition of Spanish documentary photography, he has become one of the most important photographers to link the post-war generation to the present.

Paco Elvira has always been interested in circulating his photos beyond the printed page. He complements his work with exhibitions, and is constantly revising and organizing his archive. In doing so, he considers elements like format and medium while creating new series that capture his unique perspective and express his highly personal criteria. As a photographer, Paco Elvira has always seen photography as a dialogue that combines the documentary with the aesthetic; he has always been committed to history, but above all, to freely expressing his personal vision.

Therefore, an added importance is given to the fact that this portfolio is comprised of a series of photos personally chosen by Paco. It’s a summary of his life experience that emphasizes the way he understands photography. Perhaps the same could be inferred from a selection made for a book, but looking at this set of images (developed one by one, on gelatine-bromide paper from their original negatives) gives the viewer a more immediate experience of seeing how the light reacts with the silver, illuminating reality once again. The copies on fiber paper convey a more intimate appreciation of details and form as well as the smoothness of the shades of light: a more complete sensory experience than that offered by a photo in print. We have always been able to see the mastery of the moment in Paco Elvira’s photos, but these prints reveal even further the delicate use of light that he has always paid such close attention to in his work.

Laura Terré
Vilanova i la Geltrú, March 2008