Featured in the May 2019 issue of The Rowling Library Magazine.

Wizarding Portraits in the Muggle World – Interview with Xavier Boldú

866 words.

If the Wizarding World has painters that can create portraits of Hogwarts directors, for example, in the Muggle World we have Xavier Boldú. This Calatan photographer has the ability to create, with this camera, portraits that look like paintings from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. We interviewed him to know more about his process, ideas and how he converts these amazing photos into magical pictures.

First of all, could you introduce yourself? What’s your background on photography?

My passion for photography comes from my Dad, photography was his hobby when he was younger. When I started to show interest in photography he was the first one that supported me.

I have attended a couple of courses but I am mainly self taught. I find very rewarding finding the way to create what I had in mind just on my own. I also like to watch online tutorials about photography and retouching techniques.

How did you discover Harry Potter and how did you come with the idea of the Wizarding Portraits?

My story might be a bit different than the normal ‘I grew up reading the books’. I originally discovered Harry Potter when I was a teenager. A teacher made us read it for school but (surprisingly) I didn’t enjoy it. Years later, when I moved to London, I decided to pick up an easy read in order to improve my english and I decided to give it another go. This time I absolutely loved it and it has become a very big part of my life!

The idea came after taking a Portrait for Oliver (Oliver’s Brighton) and Luna. He wanted a photograph of both of them to showcase on his shop. I did some research and showed him what I had in mind. We decided on the idea of a photograph that resembled an old painting. When the image was finished I thought it would be fun to create a series of similar ones using my close friends as models.

How was the first portrait session?

The first official Wizarding Portrait was of Oliver. After taking the one for his shop we decided to try another one inspired by what he does for living. He was portrayed as a medieval merchant. I wanted everything to be perfect so I hired an original costume from the National Theatre in London and I used some flying Galleons for a touch of magic!

How is the general process, and if it changed over time, how did it change?

I start for selecting a model (unless is a commissioned portrait) and start building the idea around the person. I like to portray everyone as a reflection of their real life persona (collectors, writers, merchants, herbologist…)

The process has stayed the same since the beginning: agreeing the theme with the model, finding the costume and props and taking the actual photograph and behind the scenes videos in my studio in London. After that it takes a few days to edit the image.

How do you envision them? They seem to be inspired in the portraits from the films, but at the same time, they are very original with your own touch (the inclusion of a lot of objects). How is the creative process?

I envision them around the model to reflect who they are outside the Wizarding World. When we have decided the theme I look for inspiration related to that subject. I try to recreate the style of an old painting but with a magical touch, usually flying or glowing objects.

What do you use for inspiration?

My main sort of inspiration are old portraits. I have spent hours walking around the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery taking notes and photographs. I use them as inspiration for poses and backgrounds.

How do you chose your models? And how they participate in the creation of the image? Can they chose their characters?

I have been choosing close friends to be part of the project. Mainly people I know to be able to recreate their character. I also created commissioned portraits.

On both cases we both discuss the best character to portray. We both have an input on the final decision. At the end of the day one of my main priorities is for the model to be happy with the character.

What’s your favorite portrait of all the ones you made?

I can’t choose one. They are all my favourites for different reasons. I got to experiment with different poses, composition and lighting. Probably the one that defined the style for the latest ones was Shauna’s. It was the first time I played with a more moody look.

Do you plan to keep working on this series? Or do you have more Harry Potter projects in mind?

Definitely! I have a few more portraits already planned. Including different themes and even time periods. I have been looking forward to include a Marie Antoinette hairstyle for a while! 😉

If any of our readers want to have their own portrait, how they can do?

I am taking paid commissions through my website www.xavierboldu.com, so if you have an idea and want to have your taken you can contact me directly.