In a world saturated with images, it’s always wonderful to find work so clearly created with care. It’s perhaps easy to associate images that are crafted with precision to efficiency, with the absence of superfluous elements and reckless gestures. But much like how you wouldn’t describe a life-changing plate of food as efficient, the imagery crafted by Geray Mena is better described as cared for and harmonious. Be it the stray reflection of a sponge that counterbalances the textures of smothering bubbles, to glossy reflections in an all-pink image that enhances the suggestive nature of human lips, we can see how Geray imbues great intention into the images he creates.
“Over time, I have learned to be more demanding with the type of assignments that I accept because time is limited and a good image is better than ten mediocre ones,” Geray tells It’s Nice That. Splitting his time between Madrid and London, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie graduate describes his workload as a hybrid between client work and personal work that became his way of sustainably maintaining a full-time practice. Along with the higher scrutiny for the projects he takes on, he approaches interviews in a similar fashion. “I hardly agree to answer them as I still have a lot to learn and need to distance myself from my own practice first.”
It’s hard to place what exactly makes Geray’s work distinctive – he doesn’t seem to stick to one style, though common themes emerge. “I’ve never tried to have a signature for my work. In fact, I try to run away from it,” he explains. “What I like most is to experiment and apply knowledge from one field to another in a transversal way.” Perhaps his greatest strength is the weight of meaning that is carried within each image. In a photograph of a dropper filled with CBD oil for Gossamer, for instance, this manifests in the graduations that are turned slightly off-angle and the flurry of petals that surrounds the glass tube.
“It was wonderful to work with Gossamer from minute one, they are incredible people. After doing an editorial and cover for their magazine, they proposed that I create campaign images for their new CBD oil,” Geray says of the assignment. “The creative was very open and I had a lot of fun researching the material processes with set designer Maria Ona.” Geray prefers to develop creative processes with his clients, looking into what their intention is and the reason behind choosing him as the photographer. His collaboration with Javier Chozas involved several visits to his study, living with Javier’s pieces and “conceptually understanding the heart of his research in order to adapt it” to Geray’s own images.
Echoing other creatives who are navigating the complex field of creative production today, Geray places an emphasis on community and giving back. “I value, in a very special way, creating a workflow and community around work,” he says. “I have tried to support and give opportunities to both young creators and to collaborate with established people in the industry.” One example he gives is found on his portfolio website, a rare section titled Collaborators and Friends, that serves less as a commercial one-up and more as a desire to share exposure.
“Every day I learn something new. It’s what keeps me alive,” he says of his projects, preferring to take on challenges rather than work with what is already familiar to him. But rather than starting anew, he prefers to draw from his creative background to create images that feel extremely contemporary. “My background comes from graffiti and painting. I believe that this is gaining more and more prominence in my practice. Intention, minimal gesture and material research are some aspects that I consider important in the creation of contemporary images,” Geray says. With this focus on gesture and movement, it’s not surprising that he looks to move towards the field of moving images. “I think it’s a logical step in my career to work with video. I have several projects in motion in 2021, as well as a very special editorial project with Affair Projects,” he concludes.