The double world champion in photography is a factory worker in the Basque Country
Félix Sánchez (@ fotorunners.es) He is a 40-year-old man who has won the award for the best world athletics photography in the last two years. To go to the Doha World Cup, Félix spent part of his 20 days of vacation and € 1,300 of which he did not recover more than 100 with his work.
He works as a worker in the Basque Country.
"I am a factory operator who makes automotive tubes for car brands."
It has already gone through these cursed times for an ERTE but it is not afraid of being out of a job, “because it is a factory that has 130 years of life: the talgo was made here ”, explains Félix Sánchez Arrazola, who works in that factory based in Oñate, a Guipúzcoa valley surrounded by mountains where more than 10,000 inhabitants live. He is one of them.
The difference is that he has been the winner the last two years (2018 and 2019) at the IAAF Annual Gala of the best athletics photography in the world among thousands of photographs, from all over the world, that were submitted to the contest .
He only won once and both times those who won were his, those of Félix Sánchez Arrazola, who represents an energetic contradiction: he is not professionally engaged in photography.
This is a 40-year-old man for whom this profession is a passion that costs him money: “I spent 1,300 euros between the flight and the hotel to go to the Doha World Cup, from which, at the most, I recovered about 100. But go to Doha and bring you the best photography in the world, the photography that everyone is looking for and that you are the one to take… I don't even know how to explain it… ”
- There are things that are above money.
- For me, yes, of course, and every time I see the trophies in my living room, they remind me, 'Felix, those trophies you have won,' and I don't want it to be interpreted as bullshit on my part. After all, who am I? I am only a factory worker, but this shows you that the world is very open, that you can still do unimaginable things and that this is not reduced to the usual ones.
Félix then remembers those competitive days at the finish line when they step on him to take a photo or those times when he stands in a corner and colleagues from other countries, who can be the photographers of a lifetime, they yell at him to take off. But then he, instead of answering 'here I am', used to rebut them: "There is room for everyone here."
-And it doesn't come off, no.
- I do not take off because I am also there to do a job.
-The difference is that only one wins.
-It's clear. Everyone wants to be the best photo and for that you have to find the moment. You cannot be worth any photo. In the end, everything has a lot of work. Nothing comes out for what it does. You may have a gift to do something, but you need to work on it.
- and it does not make you angry to be there and not to earn a living with photography?
-You pay poorly. He would live like a bastard from one place to another. In fact, once when I was interviewed for the most widely read newspaper in Guipúzcoa, the boss asked me, ‘do you work?’ Cuánto how much do you earn? ’And when I told him what my life was like, he said‘ stay where you are ’. So I'm not sorry not to be a professional photographer. If I went and earned € 60,000 it would be something else but to be aware all day today they do this job for me, not tomorrow… what will happen tomorrow? I prefer the factory.
Meanwhile, he invests in his passion: athletics. A process that started at the age of nine when he first subscribed to the magazine ‘Atletismo Español’. Or in that boy who put the posters of Joaquim Cruz, by Peter Elliot, by Martín Fiz..., athletics culture. Or in that young man who got to do 53 in 400 and 1'59 ”in 800 (“ he passed the 500 in 1'10 ”and then died”) and who dreamed of being an Olympic champion until he had to undergo surgery for plantar fasciitis and Nothing was the same again.
-In the end, either you are one hundred percent or it is impossible in athletics.
In exchange, today he continues training. In fact, during these days of confinement, he has bought a treadmill that he has placed in his home garage. On the horizon, he aspires to make 34'00 ”in 10 kilometers. But now what sets him apart from others in athletics is photography: "I didn't want to lose my connection with athletics and so I started taking photos," he explains today.
-A photographer was needed for the ‘Runners World’ magazine in the Basque Country and I offered myself through Martín Fiz and they took me and I began to collaborate with them.
The result is a story that has allowed Félix Sánchez Arrazola to travel to infinity. In the infinity nothing has changed as it happens to us after seeing the films that make us fall in love. At least on the outside. But inside everything changes as we insist from minute one of this conversation in which now he is going to remember the last photo he won, the one of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who, by the way, “did not have the detail to put it on their social networks, but, anyway, there are people for everything ”, he regrets.
"The reality is that I didn't even know what photo to send and it was my girlfriend who told me‘ that one, send that one. '"
What's more, it may not even have been the best photo of the 130,000 he took at the Doha World Cup, but when he sent it in October, he hadn't had time to see them all. "I didn't finish until December."
"As Álex Calabuig says, I am a photographer like those who formerly carried the reel and later looked at each photo," explains Félix Sánchez who interprets this life as a slow-fire process. “For me, the photo is not on the day as it happened to me with that of Jesús España kneeling on the ground after the Seville marathon. When I sent that photo it was a Wednesday, when nobody expected it, and it ended up becoming the photo, because, for me, Photography is the art of knowing how to wait. It is the one that comes when people no longer expect anything and then you must remember: ‘is that photographs are also for that. '”
-That is what differentiates the best, then?
-I don't know, because there are so many things ... I could also tell you that the difficult thing in both cases, both in Barega and Fraser-Pryce, the difficult thing was not taking the photo, but knowing what photo to send ... In the case of Barega maybe I was clearer, because I wanted to send a cross, take the opportunity to remember that cross is also athletics. I threw myself face down on the ground and, like him, I put mud up to my ears ... but this is also part of the passion.
In the end, everything is passion. At least, it is the message transmitted by Félix Sánchez, who juggles to go to the championships, which the IAAF already accredits. But before, he has had to fit his vacation in the factory, where he has “20 working days” and, of course, the money that allows him to pay for himself the trip, the hotel, the food… It is not known if this It is the precariousness of the trade but we insist: he prefers to speak of passion.
The passion that does not disappear in Oñate, in that factory where everything is more prosaic. Felix can operate a crane at dawn, when it is his night shift, but there is no frustration, "But the happiness of earning a living", because that is the example he lived at home, the example of his father, the example that the Basque Country transmitted to the boys of his generation. "Or you were studying engineering or vocational training and I did a higher degree."
Then there is athletics that reminds you that only one wins and that everyone aspires to be the best.
Without being an Olympic champion, he has already experienced this sensation twice in a row. “Of course I would like to return to Monaco, and I aspire to do so, but if I don't come back, nothing happens: the ego is already satiated for me. What's more, without the ego you can live: the important thing is to be happy with what you do, the important thing is that you are convinced by what you do. Above an award, is what I try to convey. In the end, an award is nothing more than a memory. ”
-What gave you the award?
-Nothing, the trophy alone.
-Well, every time I see the trophy in the living room ...
-Is an award an idol?
-No, what is it? Especially in this world in which we live in which there are no idols left, because there are so many things ... In my childhood I have already related the athletes I put in my room, those athletes were my idols and, if there was a world championship of cyclocross in Oñate, the whole town went to see it, but there are so many things to go ... The stars have been lost, the hobby has been lost.
-Do you give photos?
- We have all given away to show our work. But less and less. Whoever gives me something in return, be it friendship, be its products, whatever it is, I do give it. But give away less and less because people do not value your work and, in the end, you hurt yourself and your colleagues.
- Well done.
- Also, I tell you one thing: I prefer to give my friendship away as a gift of a photograph, it has more account, friendship can be for life ...