My photography is all digital and processed on a computer in what is now known as the digital darkroom. I execute traditional image enhancements deliberately abstaining from altering images to “make
them work”. I even cringe at the thought of cropping images to make them compositionally meaningful. Context is import to me, which is why I shoot mainly with focal lengths ranging between 15 and 5mm. I shoot mainly with digital SLRS, compact and mirrorless cameras depending on mood, a particular intent, or simply based on where I intend to hang or walk on a particular day. Most of my photography consists of candid moments of people carrying on their daily lives here in Mexico City. There are times when I feel obliged to earn the trust of an individual or group before asking for permission to photograph. The latter alone is a huge friend-making tool.
I have recently begun to dislike the term street photography used by some attempting to label my approach and usual subject matter. I prefer visual ethnographer or documentalist yet I am afraid my work may not necessarily measure up to these concepts. My work is not about a NATGEO moment as much as it is about capturing those split seconds between moments that help me appreciate my humanity and of those around me. There’s the cliché that an image is a thousand words; I’ve come to understand that an image is really a thousand of the viewer’s words framed by his or her experiences, mental schemas about how life works, and personal biases. In the end labels don’t matter much if the viewer of an image cannot connect with the subject matter in a photo, if the image fails to captivate the viewer’s thoughts and attention.
As a teen in Upstate, New York my photography was birthed from a need to simply see what the world looked on a printed piece of paper. In Mexico it has become a tool by which I continually remind myself how human and like me are the individuals I encounter through my journey in this cityscape of contrasts, some subtle and others harsh. This new home, which I lovingly call Chilangolandia --in reference to how the inhabitants of Mexico City are called (Sometimes pejoratively by Mexicans beyond the borders of the metropolitan area while at the same time worn proudly by the city’s residents.), has taught me how truly fragile and futile is an identity wrapped up in a nation’s flag, a town’s name, or in a perceived sense of self defined by vain social constructs. In the end, we are truly just momentary citizens and residents of a huge space vessel called Earth.
The exhibition Chilangolandia opens March 30 at 5PM in the East Georgia State College Swainsboro Art Gallery in the JAM Center.