Toño Mèndez
"One Man and His Drone"
Toño Mèndez

Ayamonte has many wonderful colourful corners and people. And this evening Monday 2nd of March 2015 I meet one of Ayamonte’s characters who does a lot of work in promoting Ayamonte both over the air and in the air (you will see what I mean in a while).

M: Hi Toño, good to see you again and thank you for taking the time out to do this interview.

T: No problem, as long as interview is not in English because I am bit rusty (followed by a hearty laugh).

M: A lot of people know you for the aerial photography you do of Ayamonte but you work in the local radio station as a sound and image producer.

T: Yes, I did a lot more work on image when Guadiana tv was open and now for municipal radio station I do technical production and production for live radio programmes.

M: Talking about production and film, I know that you have been working on recovering 8mm film and digitalising old footage of Ayamonte.

T: That is a personal labour of love and yes it’s a project that I have been working on for over 12 years now. There is a lot of film out there and it would be a shame for it to be lost. Currently there must be over 90 hours that I have recovered from old film and film shot on the old Tomavistas Super 8 cameras. Over the years I have spent almost €20,000 in this project and now many people give me films to recover. A lot of the material is from Ayamonte at the end of the 20th Century.

M: You must see a lot of changes in Ayamonte from then to now.

T: Like all places, with time comes change, back then the fishing industry and the river Guadiana was the centre of everything.

Aerial Photo By Toño

M: You live in the Barriada of Isla Canela, an area of Ayamonte that seems to have held on to that fishing village feel.

T: Yes, Ayamonte over the years as a town seems to have turned its back on the River Guadiana, a mistake in my opinion. Another one of my projects is “Guadiana la Vida de Un Rio” Guadiana the life of a River. The canning industry has moved away from the river but I try to capture the images along that river to show the people nowadays that it has a lot to offer not only to the local people but also to the people living outside Ayamonte. There are loads of people who are working on plans to bring the river very much back in to the Ayamonte town from architects to politicians, we are all looking at ways to return the river to its rightful position as a Vital Artery of the Village. And we will succeed!

M: I have seen many of the photos you have taken of the river and they are spectacular. I have got to admit I have a weakness for aerial photos.

T: Yes, with the help of the drone you can really get some great shots of the Guadiana and Ayamonte Town.

M: I recall seeing a video of you flying over the marshlands and a flock of flamingos taking to flight.

Mendezflamingo video

T: Yes, that was almost a year ago. When I bought the drone I always wanted to record that image. You see, flamingos fly into this area around February and leave in about May. I was flying near the tidal mill in Pozo Del Camino and came across the flock of flamingos. They were just within range and luckily I could record and return. That was one of the first videos I recorded with the drone.

M: Your vimeo page has some great videos of the beach and Ayamonte town.

T: Always trying to improve and learn more, I will always do everything I can to get the image and feel of Ayamonte out there. It is something I am very proud of.

M: You were born here in Ayamonte, have you ever lived anywhere else?

T: I made my first appearance in Ayamonte on New Year’s Eve 1969, didn’t even give my mother time to eat the grapes so to speak. I have lived in Ayamonte most of my life and only was away while I studied in Seville but Ayamonte is my home and I am happy and content here and the odd time I do get away I am glad to get back to Ayamonte.

M: I know you also do video clips for music groups but you are a very much sought after DJ, how long have you been doing that.

T: I started spinning in the 80’s with my vinyls but it has evolved immensely since then, you could say it has been revolutionised or industrialised. Similar to the photography it has changed in the last 30 years.

M: Your producer background sets you apart as you mix music and video clips in your sets.

T: Yes, it is called AV SET. Back in the 80’s we had MTV and I think this format is capturing the feel of how we related to music back then. It is also nice to be able to put images to music that originally never had a video clip in the first place.

M: Thanks so much for your time and insight and I look forward to seeing and hearing you work for a long time to come.

T: A pleasure, as long as I am enjoying it, I will keep doing it.


For those of you who want to see Toño's work check out his video website or his facebook page