Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Students and young photographers ask me, very often, which subjects could do and many believe that if they go to exotic locations will be easier to sell their photos. Today I want to show this fine story about the outbreak of the housing bubble in Spain, planned and photographed by Xavier Cervera, as a clear example that you don’t need go to the other side of the planet to find great subjects. Xavier worked in advance previewing that this story will be of a capital importance and used all the photographic resources (composition, the quest for the best lights ...) to develop it. This story was published in La Vanguardia Magazine and the text, accompanying the pictures of Xavier Cervera, was written by one of the most prestigious Spanish journalists, José Martí Gomez.

It got to happen. While the whole world praised the rapid growth of the Spanish economy, far above the European average, I sensed serious problems due to the foundations of that growth.

Much of the development was based on Spanish construction. The flats and apartments rose in price, well above inflation, and people was buying them for investment. "To buy apartments and houses is the safest investment; their prices can’t never go down” they used to say. The price of the soil to build was revaluating without stopping. The city councils got money to finance them converting agricultural land into building land, which generated huge profits and big gains which shared political, brokers and builders. The international mafias bleached their dirty money in land while Spanish politicians looked to the other side. All corrupt and all happy. Everyone? While that happened, the flat prices were going skyrocketing out of the reach of young people, who were seeking to leave their parents home, and that earned low salaries; the apartments were also too expensive for the emigrants who served as cheap labour, to continue building non stop, and that crowded together in small flats.

The global financial crisis exploded and damaged, especially, countries like Spain or Ireland highly dependants of the building industry. Nobody wanted to invest in flats anymore, neither the rich nor the mafia, and the people who really needed them to live in or had no money or was unemployed or the banks did not lend them money to pay the mortgage, and ,besides all that, there are a million empty apartments in Spain. For the same reasons people was not buying cars and there were massive lay-offs in the major Spain industries: construction and automotive where many workers were fired. As these industries were losing money, they stopped investing in advertising that is what sustains mainly the written press. Newspapers and magazines, especially, were affected by this publicity cut off, stopped contracting freelances and started firing staff journalists and photographers. Should I go on…?

All this sad story has already face and eyes because of the story of Xavier Cervera and José Martí Gomez published in The Vanguardia Magazine.

1 comment:

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