marking the end of the trip through El 18.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
The doors opened with a small pull of the handle, and like a breathe coming from the mountain, the chill trickled into the car. We had arrived at El 18.
Our small group of family and friends gathered outside the busy patio of a restaurant with a sign that read, "Pa'Las Que Sea!" We started toward a small inclined dirt road on the other side of the highway, El 18.
We weaved through cars and people, trying not to lose their footing on the loose dirt covering the rocky path. Once we arrived at the summit, a cool breeze and spectacular view reminded us what it means to view the world from atop a mountain.
After the chill surmounted our desire to keep viewing what looked like the edge of the world, we hobbled toward the restaurant where the short walk began and decided to explore the food of El 18.
Into the restaurant we went.
In the back we found an inviting patio with a gorgeous view of the Andes. The mountains lay around the valley like giants from prehistoric times, petrified after millennia of sleep, reverent and immovable.
We ordered a nice bowl of hot chocolate accompanied by an adult-sized slab of mozzarella. The cheese melted in the steamy chocolate drink, which warmed our insides, while the view soothed our minds.
The afternoon came with mountain mist that flowed over the rim of the Andes, and washed across the valley covering it in a sleepy blanket and
marking the end of the trip through El 18.
Friday, February 6, 2015
I stood there at the summit of Cali, Colombia in the presence of El Cristo that had a chip torn of it's cranium by a lightning strike a few nights before. I looked over the railing surrounding the tourist section and looked to the city I was slowly falling in love with.....
But then, as usual, my habit for adventure with my camera kicked in and I jumped over the railing and began to walk down the mountain side away from the tourist section of Cali's El Cristo.
What can I discover away from areas contaminated by guided eyes, I wondered.
And not far from the tourist section my eyes were called upon by an interesting tree stoically resting on the mountain side. I sat down on the mountain, aimed and.....
After a short rest I continued my adventure and came up to some ledges formed by scattering hills of red dirt. I began to jump down from one to the other, slowly, since I was wearing flip flops not having foreseen this adventure. At the bottom of the red hills I came upon a small path formed by rocks sliding down the mountain incline and continued to walk onwards. And there it was, a sight worthy my attention and worthy my lens. I aim and I shoot....
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Photographers take pictures of the world and its properties and make them art by adding elements to the image that inspire human emotion. The art of photography is not capturing what is (in terms of nature), but what is to us [humans/the mind]… and with that, we con.
We are conartists.
A landscape becomes beautiful because it looks, and afterwards feels, natural (within the context of human interpretation). A portrait is simply an image of a person, but in the eyes of some it can become art when the artist is capable of using their skill to help the 2-dimensional image (the portrait) transcend a physical meaning into a physiological dimension (the mind) - by this point, instilling emotion.
These are such big words for such a simple process of composing the frame around a subject and then pressing the shutter button. But this is exactly what research in photography covers: the relationship to the images we create and even more obscure topics that include the study of diaspora relating to the artist and even more obscure topics like the relationship between an object and its name.
I personally judge the greatness of my art, and vice versa, on the depth of its content. Some of my art is only meant to represent a small puddle for the viewer to cool off in after being in the hot sun that is the social world (sometimes, even our own minds). But some of the other works I've composed represent much more than a little trickle of water; my deeper work is meant to be a spring, a spring that gushes inspiration from its origins and whets the appetite of the viewer but makes them desire more once they realize how much there is left to experience.
I'm still a toddler in this world of thought, but that won't stop me from writhing out of the muck and reaching for the stars in that dark yet profound sky that is the mind and the world around it. Each step forward consists of experiences, and with each experience I'll be there with a camera at hand to photograph what I see, as well as inadvertently marking where I currently am, and, eventually, where I was.
My goal as an artist is to experience. To grow and create a physical representation of the metaphysical thoughts within my mind, and others. I hope to create images that resurrect the soul out from the daily miasma that sinks us into lifeless repetition and brings forth a human with desire for more out of themselves.
|Escape the voluntary prison|
I hope to do many things - that is part of being young - but even that thought is a trap because the older minds aren't lacking of curiosity. We may find insecurity when dealing with obscurity but everything was once obscure; water was once a mystery to our minds, but once we quenched our thirst with it, it was no longer obscure and had now become secure in our minds as a source of life and continuation.
The only security I have in my photography is my camera and my skill; that is the exact reason why I don't edit my own photography and only use my camera's computer to process it. Everything else is obscure, but within that I'll find the solid path and that alone is enough to inspire me.
Work alongside life
Sunday, April 13, 2014
|One of the images from Cuba|
In order to fill the remaining spots I will be doing short (1-3) day road trips to different States. Unfortunately I do not have enough money, as a full-time student, to cover for the trip expenses (specifically Gas and food along with the occasional bed if sleeping in the car is not a, safe, option).
Therefore I am reaching out to you in the hopes that you may be interested in supporting my short missions to gather more images.
How can you help?
All images that are on sale on my website are now 40% off until July 1st, 2014 when you use the keyword "support" on checkout. Any purchase made on my website from now till July will go into the trip funds. If you have kept an eye on a specific photograph in my collection NOW is the time to make it yours.
|Another of the chosen image|
If the Exhibit in Cuba goes well I hope to open another here in the U.S. But the future of these exhibits lie on my ability to produce more work for your enjoyment. And I need your help.
Help me create Art.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
One of the subjects most discussed in photography, especially in contemporary photography, is that of “Identity.” After reading several articles that blew me away (because of their depth and detail), I realized I had found the second path that I've been looking for within the past year that would lead me to the next chapter of my work- context.
Well, I wanted to sound dramatic there; hopefully it worked! But, honestly, I did encounter what I felt I was missing. My work, no matter how good it was (relative to the past few years), lacked definition, context (that word again).
What does context mean? in my case...
It refers to the relationship between the viewer and my images. For the past few years, I've been working exclusively and intentionally on building a strong, capable, photographic skill base. My focus was solely on composing (correctly), lighting (correctly), and vision (being able to discriminate between good and bad shots before even lifting the camera to my face). And these basics (composition, lighting, vision) will always be works in progress, no matter how skilled I get. But now I'm slowly expanding my work by bringing meaning and audience into the frame. (I'm such a punster).
Because of my new academic involvements I've started thinking, "Why not give my work a deeper, more intentional meaning?" So this is the first blog [actually, the second, lol. The previous post was the first] about such attempts. Except I will supply one element that has been referred to in the past couple paragraphs:
This collection was originally focused on just getting nifty-looking pictures (remember, I was only focused on building a base)...But, with new intentions, I'm adding some meaning to this collection. This post covers Identity, through people’s hands. The title, "Las Manos" (Spanish for “The Hands”) refers to a collection I started in Cuba on my last visit. I wanted to express the value our hands hold in our lives. Hands produce action from our thoughts; and from action they produce character, Identity.
Born and raised in Cuba.
These next images of "Las Manos" are accompanied by a portrait of the contributor. (cover image too)
We do so much with these extremities that we sometimes don't actually realize how often we use them. Every day we use them to get out of bed, each finger wraps around the handle of a brush to brush our teeth, to straighten our hair. We prepare our meals with our hands, or simply use them to accept the meals prepared by the hands of others. We use them to determine how we feel: forehead hot; sweat down the neck; cold. And we also use them to express our feelings: hands over our eyes – fear; hands against the cheek of someone else – Love.....or anger.
So don’t simply do, but feel and observe your actions, because after the actions are done they belong to your past and ultimately our past actions build our future as well.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
One thing I've learned about making these posts is that the hard part isn't really coming up with a topic. The hard part is mustering up the power to break from the chains of procrastination and write the topic fast enough lest I lose interest in it. That would leave it to wither away in the dusty corners of the unpublished section of the internet- shame, shame.
That's what happened to a post I was working on that discussed my hand photography. It actually became tough trying to put into words its meaning without giving it meaning; it was difficult to give a subject verbal meaning without "polluting" the viewers' opinions. [I like thinking that my viewers' opinions are raw, like my Sushi.]
So the light bulb of intense literary inspiration that burns the procrastination chains away temporarily came on. Coincidentally, a new idea decided to board the inspiration train.
|Love this image. It really captures the spirit I see within the kids.|
Would you call it innocence... or something else?
One of the topics of my research for photography (yes, there is such a thing as research with photography) is the study of Identity within photography and the photographer. As you already know (maybe not), I was born in Cuba! *silent whispers from the audience* And I actually came to America at the age of five. You don't really have to remember that, since I'll most likely bring it up again in the future (for a legit reason).
During the 16 years that I've lived in America, I've traveled to Cuba five- maybe six- times, and the last two times I went as a photographer. The "People" collection of the "Cuba" folder isn't just a portrait of what I see in Cuba, but it is also a portrait of myself, as a person. Each image represents how I see the country and its people, my people. So if anyone ever wants to write about me (obviously you would), then just look at my photography work as your main source of information.
Photography is a very expressive art medium. Unlike painters, we can't express our emotions through the motions of the brush, but the image itself tells the viewer (almost) exactly what we see. More to the point, it shows you what we are looking at.
Anyways, I'll probably go into a philosophic photography rant some day, but not today :) So no worries, my good reader.
So here are some of the images I took and short statements to go with them:
|My adorable nephew (period)|
|This picture was really awesome to get. When I saw it a big light bulb turned on,|
which is ironic since this image represents the frequent power outages throughout the entire
Think about it.
There are many more images in the "People" collection on the website, so I recommend you check them out. Every single picture on the folder represents a unique aspect of the Cuban identity and the things they currently face in everyday life. It also represents a part of me- the image hunter (as my cousin, who is a professional painter, described). In the comments section, feel free to share some of what you see when interpreting these pictures.
On a last note, I'd like to thank the new addition to my editing squad, Eric Staab, for looking over my crappy writing. Without him (and the other editor, the wonderful Mercedes Flowers) you'd be looking at random words with cat emojis everywhere. And yes, I have an editing squad. Mixed feelings.
Till next time.
Edited by Eric Staab.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I recently read a blog post from another photographer that spoke of his experience taking the photograph of an actor who had just found out his father had passed. It was a very powerful read and if you would like to read it, click here.
So this brings me to a similar topic. There have been two moments in my life where I realized I was taking the “last photos” of a person. The last images that visually proved their existence. One happened a couple years back and I had this realization just before the shoot and the other happened last summer in Cuba and my realization of me being the person’s last photographer came a few weeks ago when I heard they had passed away.
I'll tell you about the second instance.
So as some of you may know, I was born in Cuba. More specifically, La Habana. When I was born, I lived in The Capital for about a year but then moved to Sancti Spiritus with my mom and her family after my dad had left on a raft to the U.S. (which leads to me being here, now a 16 year US citizen).
When I lived in Sancti Spiritus there were many people that took care of me, as some say, "it takes a village," which in this case it did. I was a handful for sure, but not in a bad way...I hope. Anyway, one of the villagers in this community of care takers was my babysitter Pura. She was the neighborhood babysitter of sorts: she would take care of children from around the neighborhood. I even had a close friend that I grew up with, recently arrived from Cuba who was also taken care of by Pura when I was living there.
Pura was an old lady even back then, but with her loving husband and her daughter she ran an awesome daycare.
So last summer I visited Cuba for my 5th time, but it was my first as an adult, and most importantly to this post, as a photographer. My main focus for this trip wasn't really to see family, it was on documenting the country where I was born with my eyes and my camera. I wanted to give my self some cultural definition regarding who I truly am, Cuban or American (I know now).
During the entire trip, I had my camera, for every moment, every breath.
Except for one.
When I went to visit Pura, we found her bedridden – she had fallen a couple months before and had broken her hip and due to her advanced age, she was not able to recover quickly. In the U.S., you would immediately go into surgery and, well, have a repaired hip. But due to the low amount of resources, Pura was not able to get her hip surgery. So she was literally perishing on her bed.
It was a huge shock to see my Pura in such a state. I say, "my Pura," because that's the only way I could describe how I thought of her when I saw her. I couldn't stop staring at her, I didn't want to because inside I honestly felt this would be the last time I saw her, and, unfortunately, I was right.
I had such a strong mixture of different emotions ranging from complete sadness, to anger, all accompanied with the strong desire to act. Which brings me to something I had mentioned previously: this was the one time I did not have my camera.
For the first time in my life, I was in a situation where all my photo-journalistic (to give it a name) senses where firing off...and I was camera-less. “Fuck me” was the only thing I could think of in that second.
But thank God I had my cellphone. And so, with the intent of capturing the last moments with Pura, I took these images.
After taking these images I sat down on the bed across from her own (where her husband sleeps) and just looked at the pictures. To see her on the screen of my phone almost made me cry because I realized that this really could mean the last time I would see her, the last memories of her. These pictures meant everything to me at that point, these pictures held similar weight as the first instance I had encountered taking someone's last photograph, but this time it was a "family" member.
Nothing in the world mattered to me more than getting at least one photograph that would accompany the image I will always hold in my heart of her. The images of her taking care of me as a small child along with the memories of her colorful backyard covered in banana trees and chicken pens were "photographs" she gave me to remember her by. And I hope to use these images as the "photographs" to share with the world that represents a lady who was Pure.