Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Con-Artist

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

Expedition for Exhibition


One of the images from Cuba
I was recently invited by a Fine Arts and Photography Museum in Cuba to exhibit 30 Landscape photographs from my collection. Since the invitation, I have worked on filling the 30 slots and so far I am at 17 images (Most 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.

Ravimi


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Las Manos: Portraits through the hands




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:

Context

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.


Las Manos

Born and raised in Cuba. 












These next images of "Las Manos" are accompanied by a portrait of the contributor. (cover image too)





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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. 


Ravimi

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thoughts of Collection (People of Cuba)

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.

This post's subject is the "People" gallery within the "Cuba" collection on my website.
Love this image. It really captures the spirit I see within the kids.
Would you call it innocence... or something else?


My People

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:
This is my classic rock-loving uncle. He's 20 and represents a lot of how I'd describe the
youth population in Cuba. Not all, of course. There's a really large range of opinion in Cuba,
which is shown by the different types of personalities. He just follows the "against-the-man" nature.

After I left, he was drafted.


This picture is called "Perdidos en La Habana," which translates to "Lost in Habana." Why?
Well, I didn't originally think of naming this picture what it is called now when I took it, but the
name came when I showed it to my Cuban family, and they all started laughing. They said that the licence
plate was from Guantanamo and that they had broken down in Havana (both are very far apart).
It's one of those "I can't believe this shit" laughs.

So that's how I got the name. "Perdidos en La Habana" represents breaking down far away from "home."

I REALLY like this picture, because it really captures a massive part of the Cuban situation with the rest of the world.
The guy's expression (in foreground) is awesome too. I won't go into detail about
this image, so I'll leave it to you to give it an interpretation.

Manga (pronounced mAHn-ga, not Man-ga) and Anime are MASSIVE in Cuba, especially with the younger gen.
 This guy happens to be a member of Cuba's largest Manga and Anime organization, maintained by the
Cuban youth. They actually have contacts in Japan, and they talk about the latest and greatest in
the culture's happenings. And Magic the Gathering and other card games are really popular as well.
Fun Fact: Shingeki no kyojin is the most popular Manga right now.

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
country.

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.

Ravimi.



Edited by Eric Staab.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking Someone's Last Photograph

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.

Pura


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.

Last Summer


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.

Goodbye


Monday, January 20, 2014

Great Misconceptions!!!

Hiya!  

So...Photography

It's easy, and yet it's hard.

What do I mean?

Well, it's now been about 5 years since I first picked up a camera for reasons other than taking a random family picture. When I first started I didn't think it would become what it is now: a tremendous part of my life. I became obsessed with it from the get-go. I spent months and months (literally an entire summer) studying photography, nonstop, for more than 15 hours a day. Studying meant going outside and taking a couple hundred pictures after having spent 10 or more hours studying techniques and theory and other such stuff online. I remember several instances where I would stay up 2 entire days studying feverishly. As a close friend recently told me, "You were in flow" (as psychologists say). I guess it's true since I never felt tired: I always went to bed afterwards and wouldn't fall asleep until 1 or 2 hours of photography theory had finished running through my head. But, really never did stop running around in that noggin.

And that was the easy part, but only because I liked it. I did it because I had no other choice, both as a high school kid during summer vacation, and as a photography freak...it sounds kind of weird to me being serious when I say that.

Oh whatever, it's me.

Hard money...

So the hard part was mainly made up of two things (that are strongly tied together): money and being self taught. More specifically, I'm referring to lack of money and lack of an official art environment full with resources. Photography is EXTREMELY (I repeat) EXTREMELY expensive. I've calculated that, in total, I spent about $1,500 within the first 2 years without a single dollar being made back. And $1,500 is on the cheap end of things, considering my camera (the one I still use) is only an entry level professional camera. The body alone, without a lens, was $800 at the time.

Once I started doing some gigs people would mostly say, "Oh, since you're new, will you do it for free? Assuming payment would be the experience," and obviously (to me at least), I would be excited to just do more photos, so I would either do everything for free, or maybe make $50 for what I would now charge $800 worth of work (I'm not trying to show you how greedy-which I'm not ;D). This just goes to show how much work I did for free in order to gain experience, and help friends out.

Anyways, I'm glad I did do all those things for free, as I learned a tremendous amount from each experience that I pushed myself into, but obviously it was difficult since I didn't have a car (my parents had to spend money on gas, which I felt bad about), and once a couple of years passed it felt like people still asked for free work, acting as if they thought photography wasn't expensive (and sometimes I still do free work, but life is getting real these days, so I need real non-monopoly money). And yeah, that reminds me, photography is EXPENSIVE (3rd time's the charm!) and a lot of people asking for me to do their photos don't realize that.

.........and a long flat path


The long flat path mainly has to do with having started photography and having decided to remain self taught; school had started up again and was taking up most of my time, I also didn't have money for photography classes. During the first few years (3-4 to be more precise) I was like a boy-with-a-camera in an egg that would just not want to crack and allow the world to see me. Like being under a cellar-door that won't open when a bad guy (or lady) is coming after you......about to stab you with a knife so ghetto you feel like shitting your pants just looking at it. 


Back on course-
Since I wasn't "good enough" to actually merit any attention from people other than my parents and some friends, I felt like my progression, which really was big (other people said it...not me) was not being acknowledged,
like Gosh! give the man some credit, YEARS of Hikikamori style studying, can someone give me at least one clap?

 *cricket sounds*

This lack of acknowledgement mainly showed itself when I first started publishing my work online and not many people would react to it (actually almost no one...except my best friend (fist-bump best friend))***. Many times I felt like not even posting anymore and deleting the social networks, especially dA (which I don't use anymore since it's now the mecca (not talking about Saudi Arabia) of hentai and porn and most legit work is drowned by cartoon character porn and people trying to be cartoon characters, while doing porn (can you do porn? or ARE you porn? DAMMIT DIGRESSION!).

***(correction) best friend(s)...I don't need anymore hate mail.

Anyways (again), as time passed, I started getting more attention from the public [yay!], but then I came to realize there are different types of public...("what the hell does that mean?," you ask?) Well there's the public that consists of regular citizens which has subgroups that are made up by buyers, and loiterers non-buyers....Then there's the public of Art (specifically photography; the **art world** of photography [very shiny]) which is the public I am now starting to dip my toes in.

For the last 5 years I've been COMPLETELY focused on the first type of public (loiters people and such...no buyers...well, maybe 1-2). It wasn't a mistake to do so; I found MANY amazing people in the non-art community, but the main focus of this long sentence is the second thing I mentioned WAAAAAY at the beginning (talking about being self taught, and its difficulty). Being self taught meant I never took a legitate art/photography course. This means I never dipped my toes (as I am doing now, currently, this moment, ahora) into the art community. I'd describe my life as a photographer, before starting my path into art, is like me being a cat that acts like a cat for the sake of the humans, but doesn't even pay attention to the fact it is a part of the greater cat community/catmanity (no, not a cat/manatee) missing out on the nice fish bones around the corner......so sad. 

/////Btw crazy story, I just saw my neighborhood cat eat a squirrel....shiz B cray-cray./////

So as a lonely cat (with a camera). I did not realize my brethren and sistren cats where the bees-knees (incorporating lots of animals today) and that I should have started focusing on them as well. Like a cat in a room filling up with water with the only way out being the open window on the other side of the room, I realized I was screwed...unless I jumped in.

So I jumped in...


....and things started to change.

It turned out that being trapped in that hikikamori-like egg shell (with a camera) for so long while spending money on building a website, printing stuff, and doing a ton of free portfolio-building work was actually a blessing in disguise. How?

Well, for one, having decided to not post-process ANY of my pictures from the moment I started photography actually forced me to work EXTREMELY hard on everything I did. I wanted to get good, fast...very fast, which explains the Japanese lock-self-in-room style of living (pretty much the definition of Hikikomori, if you were too lazy to look it up.....you jerk).
But because of that ridiculous addiction to learning photography very quickly, it now looks like the giant swamp monster that lives in the "Art Public" swamp is not letting me simply dip my toes in the water, it wants to suck me in...which obviously has me a bit nervous. But since I have built a strong support system (having focused on the "Regular Citizens" public in the early years) I feel like there's a ladder next to me which will help me ease my descent into the (swampy) arts-side.

***sorry, I pull these things metaphors out of my butt; they stink, don't they? (leave a comment and let me know how much you hate them...or love them)***

Well, after having spent that $1,500 in the first 2 years I decided to make a website in my 3rd year costing $30 a month, make several prints of my photos, and throw money in the yard (#moneytree), which I'm guessing put me in (imaginary) debt at about $2,300 (which happens to be the amount I'm paying for my new lens in a few days) But because I had a website (very nice one) and prints to show off my work I was recruited by a museum in Cuba to do an exhibit this coming summer. AND.....well other stuff which I can't say now since it ain't solid. But it's big...real big. When I know what's going on, for sure, I'll lay it on you like a nice warm turd. #neversorry.


The money I've spent over the years is progressively being made back with jobs I've done for the Bucs (The Tampa Bay Bucs) and some other major gigs. It took a LONG time (felt like it at least) but now things are working out...and it feels like I'm now walking on a sandbar (a moist sand bar) waiting to be fully immersed by that Swamp Monster. 

My point is that there is no point I just wanted to talk....see ya

bye.

Just kidding :P heehee

Anyways, my point is that I'm starting to feel really good about my work, after a long time of feeling like a cat with no other cats to support me; I had humans there giving me pats on the back, maybe some tuna on payday, but I didn't really have another cat to show me around the corner and guide me to the fish bones. BUT, because of that, I worked so hard knowing that every picture I took and every hour I spent studying represented a small piece of wall being chipped away the Great Wall of China between me and some tasty fish bones. 

So, now that you read all of that, I will summarize it in a few words (because I'm actually the swamp monster, didn't see that coming, huh?....actually, me neither)

In summary, shiz be gettin' cray-cray.


Love ya.

Ravimi Photography. 


P.S. show sum love by sharing, commenting, and liking this long, time-wasting post...it will mean a lot to a little cat like me.

Also, I may start writing a lot more often...maybe once a month (compared to once in 1 year). So if I do...I'll see you next time.


  

 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photo and Personal Style: Nothing made into Something (part 1)

Ravimi Photography:

It started as nothing...

When I first started photography I really did not think it would become one of my strongest passions and skills in life just a few years down the road. I started in highschool when a club I was in asked for a volunteer to run the Media team. Being an upperclassman I decided it would probably be best to take the initiative and become the Media Director for the club. 

And that's where it began.

Seriously, I picked up my professors camera and never put it down (well sometimes when I went to the bathroom, but only sometimes). 

Since I didn't have my own camera I had to borrow, with an unnecessary amount of begging, my mom's point and shoot camera. After a month of unnecessary begging I begged one last time and got my very first camera; Casio Ex Fh100.

One of the first pics I took, full manual
with the Casio
Once I had the Casio (took months of research to find the best cheap camera, with the most manual control I could get) I stopped everything and started taking pictures.

I wasn't that good.

But I loved it.

Because I was so intent on learning as much as I could I had decided (before even getting the camera) that I would do EVERYTHING (pretty much means whatever the camera would allow) in manual mode. And after a month and 10,000-15,000 pictures later (no joke), I realized the beauty of the Casio, and unfortunately the limitations.

Some more pictures of my first exposure with a camera 

(Casio FH-EX100) 

trying out the sepia with some classmates

First pic I took of my dad

WOW I've been looking for this for SUCH a long time haha.
 After my first 1000 hours of photography (this includes studying and pure shooting) I new I had discovered a life long passion. And most importantly I decided to never let go of my no post processing photography style, along with a complete dedication to manual mode.

By this time I had my first DSLR (same one I still use btw) and within the first couple months of having it my style grew stronger, along with my knowledge.

Second stage of development: first (and current DSLR)

Canon T3i





These pictures were taken just before a 1.25 years of starting photography


Continued in Part 2