Gustavo Cherro realized the paradox early on that a photograph is not a 1:1 copy of what the eye sees, but an impression that requires the craft of a good photographer.
“During my teenage years until today, I devoted myself to mountain climbing and living in contact with nature. When I returned from those trips and saw my photos, I realized they did not do justice to my personal experience. So I started to buy magazines, read books, enhance my equipment until one day I took it seriously and started to study. Immediately after, I got a job as a photo studio assistant and, little by little, I managed to buy my professional equipment."
What are his career defining moments? “I think the first time I saw my name printed under a picture – that was unforgettable. It was a small, ugly picture on the corner of a not very important newspaper, but I will never forget it. After that, I covered the World Cup in France in 1998. That was a turning point. I realized I could work on a par with other photographers.” Being selected by Susan Meiselas for a workshop in 2005 also bolstered his confidence that he was one of South America’s best photographers.
A photo-editor for Argentina’s La Nación newspaper for five years, he only gets to the newspaper office at 4pm before “a joint analysis of the newspaper content with the journalists and layout-artists, I start the image selection process. When there’s a big story and there’s several photographers involved, I have to decide upon the best locations to take the images and decide on the deadlines. Of course, in the end, my role is to have the ‘best picture’ for the topic on-time.”
What does Gustavo love about photography? “It’s being able to freeze a moment in a person’s life and make it last forever and unforgettable – that is very powerful. It takes such great responsibility and judgment, but that makes our profession special and unique.”
Does he find it difficult to describe a fantastic photo? “Technically speaking, it’s easy to explain: good composition, good exposure, focus, a good light, but I think that a picture goes beyond these technicalities and often an ‘imperfect’ image may be excellent. A good picture is a unique image in terms of content, for what we feel when we see it, and when there is no need for a caption to grasp it. That is a miraculous moment we seek throughout our careers, it is something we can see when we are staring at it.”
Sports photography is usually not classed in the same company as fine art photography, but fur Gustavo, it has a dynamic that other types of photography can not quite match. “Any sport where the athlete is running and at sort of risk is interesting to me - showing that interaction between the sport and the athlete is something I like a lot. Intellectually speaking, subjects related to human and social problems are very interesting, but nature and activities in contact with nature have always been of most interest to me.”
What does he think of the photography profession now? “This generation of photographers has suffered the worst changes in the history of our profession. We started with mechanic cameras and black and white films. Then, changes started to happen, we had to learn to think in colors, to copy in color, to scan, to transmit, to send mails, to use ftp and so on. In many respects, it was like starting from scratch, the delay in shooting of the first cameras, the change of 35 mm format, the new color ranges, the low quality of the first CCDs, until little by little we arrived at our present time. Today, it is a great help to have all the technology breakthroughs available to us.”
For Gustavo, technology has given photographers new tools, but hasn’t changed the heart of the profession. “The technological breakthroughs have taken photography above and beyond what we imaged ten years ago. But I think that the core and unchangeable part of this profession remains the same. Fortunately the photographer’s unique point of view and the challenge to capture the right moment remain still unchanged.”