Manuel Moncayo

Manuel Moncayo was born in Mexico in 1989. I love the way how he captures colors, how he arrives to sublime the body, the simplicity and complexity of his buildings photos. The subjects of his affection are guys, nature and objects that point at the sky.


KALTBLUT: Hi Manuel. Could you please tell us how did you start photographing?

Manuel: I started photographing out of curiosity and in a quite spontaneous way, my friend Javier and I went on a trip through Mexico and we decided to take naked pictures of him in several landscapes, from the woods, to the hotel room and the streets on the cities we visited. The pictures became a very powerful inspiration material for me and I decided to keep on doing them.

KALTBLUT: Did you go to an art school or did you learn it by yourself?

Manuel: It was in 2012 when I realised how little technical knowledge I had in spite of all the picture taking, so I asked my friend Gabriela Rojas to teach me how to use my camera, I owe her all my knowledge, she is my school. Practising has also helped since I’ve been taking pictures every day for the past 3 years.

KALTBLUT: I love the way you capture color. Do you use a specific technique?

Manuel: Light is all. I started modifying the colors of my pictures by trying to make them look white; I became very obsessed with the idea and once I had managed I started experimenting with other colors, blue and pink for example. Sometimes I also use filters and postproduction.

KALTBLUT: There are clearly two different subjects in your photography: architecture and people, how do you approach each?

Manuel: I like to think that I approach them both in a minimal way, there is a present relationship in what I do and that is the one between ego and the universe. When it comes to photographing people, nature and nudity represent ego becoming one with the universe. Architecture itself is ego that stands still defying the universe, and it’s equally fascinating to capture that with the camera.

KALTBLUT: Do you plan ahead or do you shoot spontaneously?

Manuel: I have kept a diary since I am 17, and in 2013 I decided to accompany the writing with pictures and I started carrying my camera with me all the time, so as “spontaneous” as someone can be by getting the camera out and capturing a moment that you weren’t expecting, to getting in touch with guys and planning on going to the woods, I do both.

KALTBLUT: The male model is central in your works. What makes a model better than another? Are you looking for specifics body type?

Manuel: I think what makes a model “better” than the other is the approach that he has to the pictures and the freedom that is brought by his personality to the picture and the picture project. I like to work with guys that I can relate to and talk to. About the body type, I am not searching for one in particular but guys in Berlin do share a common type.

KALTBLUT: Do you use post-production? What do you think about it?

Manuel: I do use post production to work on the exposure, colors, and framing. The guys remain the same. I like 3D renders and we live in a technological world so I guess it’s pretty valid to use postproduction. The problem can be unreachable stereotypes and beauty that doesn’t represent reality. I like my pictures to be honest when it comes to portraying a body or a face.

KALTBLUT: How you support yourself as a photographer?

Manuel: I take pictures at clubs, exhibitions in galleries, and sell prints on my website.

KALTBLUT: What’s your working process usually? How do you approach an idea or a commission?

Manuel: I work with what I have and there is not much planning involved. When it comes to landscapes and architecture I explore and take pictures of what I discover during the day and on my trips. The pictures of guys involve meeting them to understand how they see themselves and how they want to be captured, then we meet another day and go together to a lake or to the woods and the experience itself dictates the result, it has also been the case that they are willing to do it inside of the city and I am doing a lot of that lately.

KALTBLUT: Who is inspiring you these days?

Manuel: My boyfriend, my friends and the guys that I take pictures of. I don’t follow much.


KALTBLUT: If it wasn’t photography for you , what would it be?

Manuel: I would like to do slow films or documentaries. I also enjoy writing and researching.

KALTBLUT: You’re from Mexico, and now you’re based in Berlin. Why did you move here?

Manuel: I moved here because I was getting too old in Mexico. I was working at a university and I was overwhelmed with the responsibility there, also many of my friends moved out of town and I was quite lonely, so I decided to be lonely but at least surrounded with “new”. I had been to Berlin before and it had been on my mind since then.


KALTBLUT: What’s your favorite part about living in Berlin?

Manuel: The misunderstanding and the lack of prejudice I used to face everyday, Berlin represents “new” to me, it’s a city that was re-created as we know it on the same year that I was born and I feel its personality grows at the same time than mine.


KALTBLUT: Your favorite address in the capital?

Manuel: I like Ahrensfelde, Grunewald, and my apartment the best.

Interview by Nicolas Simoneau