Where most people can only see a lonely road, he glimpses the car of our dreams. The photographer Aleix Marín has a sixth sense for composition and advertisements. He works as a commercial location scout for catalogues, posters… and has been a few times in Tarragona recently. The appeal of the Laboral, harbour, Amphitheatre, Bank of Spain, Plaça de la Seu or Llarga beach have turned the city into a set for audiovisual productions. “You look at this city with special fondness. It provides advertising industry with a lot of possibilities”, explains Marín, who has been able to bring big names such as Porsche, Mercedes and BMW to the city for their advertising productions.
Six o’clock in the evening, last dose of sunlight at the Port’s breakwater. Aleix and his mates are packing up after a long day at work. They’ve been taking pictures of the surroundings for a new ad of a BMW sports car. The team, of about ten people, gathers motoring photograph specialists specifically arrived from Germany. Aleix is a key element. He’s acquainted with the location and managed to persuade the client. A team of men from the advertising agency and the audiovisual studio have flown to Tarragona. Not a single detail is left to chance. They’re even taking pictures that will then be reflected onto the body of the car.
Those really attentive, might even recognise Tarragona once the ad is launched. Advertising however, it’s not about creating postcards, but selling. This can only be achieved by positioning the product in an appealing scenery, not singular, but rather a more generic one, so that customers can feel it as theirs. Nothing should disrupt the selling product’s prominence. Tarragona has loads of these sceneries, says Marín. “At the harbour is where we found all the client’s specifications; there’s natural light, it’s an open space, it has a clear long road and an endless horizon”, explains. He uses a compass hanging from his neck to point at the North, and know the sun’s orientation and exact position, which is fundamental for photography.
“I’ve had the time of my life scouting, like the time I was in the beaches of the north of Spain. When you’re on your own, you can see a specific location as many times as you like. You work with feelings, and what that location evokes. Once you’re with your team, in situ, this can be a really stressing job. Everything must be the way it was planned, and there’s a lot of people that can actually do their jobs or not depending in very small details”, says Marín. Part of his duty is paperwork, and asking for the necessary authorisations in order to take photographs to a public location.
Madrid, Málaga and Barcelona are “top” locations for commercial photography in Spain. “Customers guides us where they want to go to, and Barcelona really has a lot to say”, claims Aleix. There are about thirty freelance photographers in Catalonia that, just like him, are working on commercial location scouting. Within a 2-hour drive, you get “a large variety on landscapes, high almost Alps-like mountains and large cities, industry or beach”, he states. There is, however, yet another more determining factor: “International agencies like to work with Catalans. They say we’re more reliable, more responsible”, says Aleix, who has been through a lot after ten years working as a freelance.
The same consideration also works for Tarragona, where professionals like Aleix have the logistical support and permit management of the Tarragona Film Office, created in 2010. “Tarragona can play a complimentary role with Barcelona, and has a lot to offer in this sense. Location, however, is not everything. We find local collaboration in here, people want us back; and this is why we are back”, explains Aleix Marín. 200 municipalities in Catalonia are part of the Catalunya Film Comission. Tarragona is the third city in Catalonia with the highest number of shoots and photo sessions, after Barcelona and l’Hospitalet de Llobregat. Every year, almost 100 film productions take place in this city, with the resulting positive impact towards Tarragona and its trademark.