2010 in Review

December 27, 2010

I felt like 2010 was a year when a lot of things clicked for me photographically. I started off the year going to California for two months. In part it was an excuse to escape the unbearable summer heat of Buenos Aires [in Jan. & Feb.] My aunt & uncle were selling the small town newspaper that had belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents. I decided it would be a cool project to go there and document the newspaper, their lives and the town.

Patty in the mailroom at the Dinuba Sentinel

At the newspaper my attention kept getting drawn to this massive copy camera. It got into my head to try to use the camera to make portraits of the newspaper’s staff.

Betty from series 'Dinuba Sentinel Portraits'

It worked altho it was an exhausting experience [go check out my long post detailing all the technical nitty gritty]. I really pushed myself, learned a ton and did something I totally wasn’t expecting to do at the start. It was a great experience all around.

I returned to Buenos Aires in March and started up with two workshops one run by Eduardo Gil and the other by Nacho Iasparra. Whereas in previous years I had taken more technical courses I decided I wanted more free time to work on projects. I’m not saying my technical education is complete but I was looking for advice that was more aesthetic than technical.

In March that I started my Lungs | Pulmones series. I was frustrated with how flat the city is and how you can never get any perspectives or vistas. I had also long been fascinated with the interior spaces of city blocks, which tend to be left open [hence the name ‘pulmon’ or ‘lung’]. I was interested in these spaces which are neither private nor public but this kind of shared secret amongst the residents of each particular block.

from the series 'Lungs | Pulmones'

I spent a lot of time [and I still do] networking friends and friends of friends for access into these apartments. Very often, even after seeing my photos, people are unsure if their view is right for me. They’ll say things like ‘but my view is very ugly, you should really go all the way up to the roof.’ It’s then that my ears prick up because usually it’s a very good view for this project.

In May I started Ochava Solstice. The idea had been kind of kicking around in my head for a couple of years. I’d done various test shots with my digital camera and slowly noted street corners around the city which had these triangular shadows. I knew I wanted to do it well with a large format camera and perspective correction. It was just a matter of waiting for a sunny day and going out and shooting it.

from 'Ochava Solstice'

I quickly discovered that about half the street corners I had identified weren’t quite what I was looking for. Often, however, I discovered more corners in the vicinity and thus I was able to keep working on the project. I walk around Buenos Aires a lot but this project really had me walking around in circles, obsessively through the same few neighborhoods over and over again.

I also really ramped up my portrait taking that I had started in 2009. At first I was taking these black & white portraits in my apartment with a neutral background. I decided I wanted to work in color and use backgrounds of the city. I wanted to keep the tight cropping of a portrait but also have their be some sense that you’re seeing a photo from Buenos Aires. I tried to pick out walls that, for me, represented the typical color palate of the city and also worked with the model.

Bryan from series 'Some Guys'

In August I participated in the portfolio review of Festival de la Luz. It was the first time I participated in such an event. I spent a lot of money to get pictures printed up in 40x50cm [16×20″] and a really nice archival box to go with it. It was cool, finally, to see my photos larger than contact prints. The feedback from the reviews was mixed. I think I made just a single good contact and there was one criticism that really sent my head spinning [in a good way], so I suppose it was worth it just for that.

Buenos Aires has a way of getting kind of suffocating. I wanted to go somewhere else in Argentina. I chose Comodoro Rivadavia, this oil town in Patagonia that no tourist ever stops in. I had passed through there on a bus a long time ago. I remember the city had no trees and wasn’t flat. It was perfect for what I was looking for; perspectives and architecture.

House in Comodoro Rivadavia

The pictures look really great. I’m not sure where to take this, however. It’s too far from Buenos Aires and too expensive for me to go there frequently. I’m also not sure what the story or idea is I would be getting at.

These last months of the year I have basically been at cruising altitude, busy working on the Pulmones, Ochava and Portraits series. I actually have a ton of new stuff that I haven’t scanned yet.

Recently I’ve been trying to put my work out there a bit more. I emailed Aline Smithson of Lenscratch. She liked my work and published a long post featuring my work. More recently Emiliano Granado interviewed me for the site Too Much Chocolate. It was a really good experience to write down all the things I was thinking about in terms of my approach and concerns.

In terms of my personal life, this year I also broke up with my boyfriend of two years. We had moved to Argentina together for visa reasons. While I like the photographs I am now taking in Buenos Aires, I’m not sure that I can justify living here just for that. I’m not done with my Ochava project so I will be spending more time here in 2011 but I’m also planning on doing a lot more travel, in a sort of non-directional sort of way, and try to figure out what’s next.

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