In 2011, Guillermo Cervera was photographing the Libyan Civil War alongside colleagues Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. He moved aside to take a photograph of a bubbly image of a Pepsi advertisement behind a Libyan fighter. In the split second he had stepped away, his two colleagues were hit by mortar shells. The sight of the Pepsi water image saved his life.
It was that moment that led Guillermo to turn his camera inward for his next adventure and embark on a year long journey at sea.
A seasoned conflict photographer, Guillermo has always been attracted to the sea. His great great grandfather Admiral Pascual Cervera, who confronted the American fleet in the final battle of the Spanish-Cuban War, served as an example for future generations. Guillermo’s grandfather also served as an admiral, and his father was a shipbuilding engineer before turning to arms manufacturing for Arab states. The threads of his family history are pervasive throughout Guillermo’s work.
“Perhaps as a result of my situation within my family, the frequent abandonments and traumatic experiences that I’ve endured, I have always tried to reflect on—and reflect in my pictures—how the world self-destructs, how it suffers and moves towards the abyss. Somehow, I felt I had to redress the deep pain that my father caused — and still causes — by selling weaponry. Or perhaps, in a subconscious way, I was trying to prove that what my father used to say was true: that he was selling weapons in order to promote peace.”
Between stints photographing in conflict zones, he has always taken to the sea to find – and photograph – the calming effects of the water and its surf. Guillermo finds solace and liberation when surrounded by water.
Over the next year, he’ll sail around six continents. Guillermo and his crew will also venture on land to motorcycle from Thailand to Kazakhstan and back, revisiting some of the countries that have had the greatest impact on his life and career.
Follow Guillermo with us, delve into the rich history of the countries he’ll be visiting, and learn more about the man himself and what led him to this unconventional profession.
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