Finding Creative Freedom in a City of Free Creatives
Zucker wants to be clear: he still loves the city. “Nothing really compares to Barcelona. The mix of what you have here – you have the Mediterranean, you have nature nearby, it’s an international city, it’s a creative place, it’s beautiful. It’s really old history. Nowhere else in Spain has all that.”
But that allure brings drawbacks, as well. Set aside overtourism for a moment – the soaring rents driven up by Airbnb, the regular protests by locals slamming tourism as an “invasion”, the shuttering small businesses replaced by souvenir shops – the city is so packed with photographers willing to work for free that professionals can’t compete.
Zucker tells a story of a vintage shop an hour north of the city that contacted him for a shoot. He loved the space, the aesthetics and the company’s ethos. But their last photographer was a student who charged them 50 euros a session.
“There was this huge disconnect of what they expected something would cost, and I think that’s common here,” he says. “It’s a creative city full of people willing to work for cheap.”
In economic terms, he understands. In 2017, the average annual salary in Spain was less than 24,000 euros, with many citizens earning as little as 16,000. “There’s a conception here that photography isn’t really something that should be worth much,” Zucker says. “If you’re paying your employee 1,000 euros a month – which, at a restaurant, a waiter might make that – are they going to pay 800 for someone to take photos for a day?”