His Story: Fabian Iber

Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Besides my love for amateur photography, another thing you need to know about me is that I can’t keep still. I’m always moving. In my 19 years of living I’ve moved house about 13 times and most recently only about 5 days ago! Yes, I’m writing this surrounded by my moving boxes which is partly the reason why I chose to study languages so I can live abroad as part of my study.

Is there a story behind the name “Fabian”?

I think my name represents the German part of me. That despite having always considered myself English, it does represent that I was born there and am part of the culture. My mother (who is English) chose my name, although changed her mind about ‘Fabian’ a few times just after I was born.

Where were you born?

Munich, Germany

Did you live in any parts of England before residing in Bristol?

I first moved to the countryside to a village literally populated by my house and my neighbor near Milton Keynes, I then moved around Buckingham and near Oxford before moving to Bristol - my first UK city.

How was your childhood like growing up?

I have to say confusing. Up till I was 10, I grew up in a house with parents that didn’t understand each other well. My Mother didn’t speak a lot of German and my Father couldn’t speak English. To this day I have no idea how they could hold a conversation. I would speak English to my Mother and German to my father. At school, it would be some kind of broken “Genglish” which meant I got terrible grades and was dismissed as an idiot. My parents divorced when I was 11 and soon after I moved to the UK with my Mother. She was restless which meant we moved house almost every year which was fun for me. However, joining about 5 different schools before university wasn’t as fun and keeping in contact with friends became near impossible. Then again, I think it made me more independent which is great.

An interesting fact about you is that you have colour blindness. What made you realize that you had this condition and how did this hinder your creativity/photography?

When I was about 10, I loved to draw so my mum sent me to a drawing class every week. When the teacher noticed I was drawing the sky purple and the sun green she called my Mother to say I was ‘brain damaged’. Not colour blind but brain damaged! It wasn’t until I was 15 that I decided to take a colorblindness test. 

It wasn't much of a hindrance as it’s not very severe. It’s hard to explain without being able to compare it to someone else. I think I see all colours but it’s very weak and so I tend to mix up a lot of colours that are similar to others such as - green with blues and yellows, red with orange and brown and purple. It is just a mess and I could be seeing anything.

You're currently studying in the University of Bristol. What is your course of study and why did you decide to take up that course? 

German and Italian Language

I wanted to improve my German so I could actually speak German and not “Genglish”, and Italian because my boyfriend at the time was Italian and wanted me to learn the language for him.

Do you have an alternative course of study?

Originally, I wanted to study World Development because I found it so interesting when I was at school, but panicked last minute applying for university because I didn’t think I would find a career in that field.

How has the city been treating you so far? Name us your favourite bar!

I love the city. It’s my favorite place I’ve moved to. I’ve made amazing friends and memories here, especially from when I was living with my boyfriend and our cat, Em. What I like most about the city is its diversity and arts scene. It feels like a unique place. I moved here with my Mother and sister, Mia, about 4 years ago. Deciding that I wanted to continue staying here for university, I moved in with my boyfriend before my family moved away again.

‘The Love inn’ would have to be my favorite bar.  

Having completed and survived your freshman year, what is one piece of advice would you give to the students entering university this fall?

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR REVISION UNTIL THE LAST FEW WEEKS. As you can tell I am speaking from personal experience and am still recovering from the stress it caused me.

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We noticed that you have a thing for architecture and design. What is it that catches your eye?

My father is an architect so I think I got the interest for it from him. I love bold, eye catching bits of buildings like brightly coloured doors or crisp white features of a house.

What is this object above that you have photographed?

I think they’re called The Brass Pipes in Milan designed by Alberto Garutti. You can actually put your ear up to them and hear the sounds of the city.

How did you end up taking this photo?

It was my first trip to Milan to visit my (at the time) boyfriend’s family. We did the whole tourist-exploring-the-city thing and we stumbled upon it. It really caught my eye because it’s such a bold feature, the shapes and colours really stand out and I love symmetry. I took it on my iPhone like I do with all my pictures.

You have provided us with these stunning photographs of some of your trips to Milan, Venice, Lake Como, London and Munich. Which one is your favorite city you have visited? Why so?

I’ll have to say London just because of the rush you get when you’re there. There’s so much there to do and new things to try.

What was your favourite part of Venice and what inspired you to take a photo of it?

I have to say Piazza San Marco was my favorite part of Venice. It’s absolutely stunning with amazing architecture.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans during the next half of the year? 

At the moment I’m back in Munich. I’ll be travelling to Berlin and Cologne with one of my best friends in Bristol called Matthew this July and spending a couple weeks there. I’m hoping to also visit the south of Spain and Amsterdam this summer to visit some friends abroad.

I also plan to visit some people I’ve met through Instagram in Berlin. They have amazing galleries. Mostly on architecture and the human form.

On a more personal note, we understand that you openly identify as a gay individual. We hope that you would be able to share some of your life experiences with the readers out there who could use some moral support in their own journey of self-discovery. At what age did you first realize that you were gay and what triggered that sudden awareness? 

13 years old. I think just learning what ‘gay’ meant besides just an insult, and noticing all my guy-friends becoming interested in girls and how I felt the same way, except towards guys.

How did you come out to your family and friends?

I told my closest friend first and my mother a few months later. My mother was incredibly proud that I could be who I am around her. She’s very supportive and wanted to let the rest of the family know. My family is accepting but some members are a little ignorant towards gays so it’s easier not to talk about sexuality around them. My father doesn’t know because I don’t think he would be accepting of it.

What was the one major obstacle in your life thus far that you had to overcome which eventually led to where you are today?

It’s cliché but coming out was the biggest one, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be as confident in myself as I am today and I wouldn’t have had the amazing relationship I had.

What changes have you noticed about yourself after coming out?

Without a doubt, I’ve become more self-confident and open about my thoughts and feelings without worrying about being ridiculed for it.

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You met your boyfriend through Instagram. Could you share with us how it all started? 

It began over 2 years ago when he liked a picture I posted of Mia and I on a trip to Munich. We started following each other and liking each other’s pictures until he commented on a photo I posted of a hot chocolate I was drinking at a café by Schloss Neuschwanstein. He was talking about how Italian hot chocolate was supposedly better than German. Of course, I had to write back to defend German chocolate beverages! About 10 or so witty and somewhat awkward hot chocolate-related comments later we began messaging each other through Facebook until I decided to visit him in Oxford for the weekend. Since then, I visited him almost every weekend for over a year. He eventually moved to Bristol to be with me after his Masters and we moved in together.

We both love cooking, visiting new places and photography. We got our cat, Em, just before I started university. We really wanted to get a pet together and fell in love with the pictures of these new born kittens in Bristol. I think it was only a few days later we actually got her.

We had a mutual break up a few months ago back in February. There was no resentment only mixed emotions. I moved out soon after into the halls like a real student.

“Em” is a little star on your Instagram. Do tell us how she got her name! Also, who named her?

He came up with it - after “M” in James Bond, but we changed it to Em so the vets didn’t think we were weird calling our cat after a letter in the alphabet.

What breed is she?

She’s half Bengal half mix.

Is Em still living with you?

Sadly I wasn't able to keep her in student accommodation so she is still with him.

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Do you think it is tough for people in the LGBTQ community to love freely in our society today?

Definitely. I’m from a very accepting city with a lot of open minded people, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding, ignorance and hate towards the LGBTQ community. I feel lucky I was at a very tolerant and accepting sixth form and was never bullied for being gay after coming out.

Any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with the LGBTQ community?

I don’t think there is much advice you can give members of the LGBTQ community because that would mean they would have to change to fit into society better, but I do think choosing your friends wisely, knowing they accept you for you is the best thing you can do for your own happiness.

Last but not least, what are your plans from here on out?

I never plan anything, really. I want to enjoy my experience at university and I’ll take the opportunities as they come. I’ll definitely keep documenting my life. The photos of me and him no longer exist on Instagram so I feel like I can start a new chapter.

I want to focus on my profile more - to take it more seriously and professionally as well as to find new things to inspire me and the photos I take. This time next year I’ll be living abroad so you can expect me capturing the beauty of my travels.