Parker Day Interview: Imagining the Glittering Beauty of the Outré

2016-06-09-0017

Trying to tell somebody what you loved most of Parker Day’s portraits after one look is like being asked which part of a landscape you noticed while riding a roller coaster. Windswept and twitchy, you’d probably pick what’s most obvious and readily brought back to mind. “I don’t know — the blue sky, I guess,” you’d probably say. This is also true with the Los Angeles photographer’s portraits. They are high energy. All the loud character, fluorescent greens, and candy-apple reds, captured in vibrant 35mm film, have a way of making every detail jump out in high speed until all that’s left to remember is color.

To be fully appreciated, each portrait should be seen slowly and with a careful eye. Not doing so may cause you to veer into a funhouse of interpretive strands, making the ride a little too bumpy. There’s a lot going on, and her portraits celebrate this particularity: they both relish the fine detail and also recognize a particularity individual to every person. Together, they’re a triumph of difference —even if they’re emboldened by color and persona. What better way to satirize heteronormative ideals than to offer a world of three-eyed waitresses, chocolate-eating mermaids, or disco-dancing mutants? Is it a bit campy? Sure, but it still makes you wonder who these characters are being compared to. Which imagined sameness are they supposedly transgressing? Give me more of this than anything normal and sane, I say.

I spoke to Parker Day about her work over email.

Continue reading →

Abelardo Morell Interview: Capturing the Topsy-Turvy Fantasies of the Camera Obscura

242

In 1991, Abelardo Morell captured something that might have never been photographed before. Even though many people had seen what he saw, Morell was the first to make a career capturing the images that come to life when using a camera obscura. Taking around eight hours to properly expose on 4 x 5 film, each photograph is a jumbled puzzle of interiors and exteriors. One way to read them is to do so in shorthand. You can, for example, use all the shapes, colors, and signs that you see above to conjure up Times Square. It would be easy. Nobody would call you crazy, but to do so would obscure a more important reading.

Making what’s inside the picture fit an image inside your head falls back on a way seeing that these photographs try to cancel. Morell’s photographs ask for a different way of seeing: they remind you that it’s okay to imagine something else. If you want to see beyond the appearance of things, who cares? The logic of his photographs is the same of a dream. You can, as you did as a kid, let one shapeshifting fantasy unfold to the next, see shadows and light play out on the ceilings, floors, and walls like stories, all being created and destroyed out of nothing.

I spoke to Morell over email about how he got started and about what he thinks about his process.

Continue reading →

Isabel Magowan Interview: Introspective and Endearing Portraits of the Uncanny

14

In a short piece written for Photo Booth, The New Yorker’s photography blog, Hilton Als, author of White Girls and the magazine’s theatre critic, introduced the work of a few students he taught in 2014 at Yale’s Graduate School of Art. “I learned something exciting,” he wrote then. “Just as literature is opening up to cross many genres in a single work, photography is opening up to incorporate many genres and ideas.” The students’ work had left behind a desire to capture any single truth and instead described a world where “there were many stories to be told, sometimes all at once. The point was to tell them as specifically as possible.”

Isabel Magowan was one of the photographers featured in Als’s article. Wary and circumspect, Magowan is highly self-conscious while making a portrait. She’s aware that a camera may cause discomfort, even alarm. “I feel uncomfortable because I am unsure about what I am seeing,” she noted. “Ambiguity and contradiction speak to me because they are inherently uncomfortable, and this discomfort is what I find myself wanting to explore.” Here, Magowan talks about her approach to making portraits and about her thoughts of photography in general.

Continue reading →

Otis Ike Interview: Unflinching Captures of the Restless, Bizarre, and Crushed

libresweb-57

I was drinking tequila in the back of a beat-up Ford Explorer with my girlfriend, my sister, and a couple of friends the night I discovered Otis Ike’s work. We were in Woodstock, New York, to see an exhibition co-curated by the photographer Juan Madrid. Eating at a Thai restaurant, moments after the tequila, I asked a group of artists and writers with us if they had noticed a photograph of two men wrestling in blood. No, they said, picking at their food, as if I were crazy and hadn’t said a thing. While I’m unsure I remember the night word for word, I do remember describing how strange the photo was. It was, to start, a photo of two men interlocked in a gruesome hug — one giving a chokehold and another receiving it. The strangest thing, though, was that the man receiving the chokehold, the man who seems to be swimming in his own blood, was grinning. He was laughing, I told them, as if he just overheard a good joke or learned that a good friend was in town.

That photograph, shown above, was taken by Otis Ike and was on display at the exhibition we traveled to see that night. I would later find out that Otis Ike is only a nickname. Otis Ike’s real name is Patrick Bresnan. Bresnan started shooting photography in the 80s when his mother gave him her Canon AE-1. She would keep on supporting him as he practiced, even developing his 4×6 prints. Bresnan now lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Ivete Lucas. Their film, The Send-Off, was awarded at the South by Southwest Film Festival and had its world premiere at Sundance. Here, Ike talks briefly about this work and about his thoughts on shooting candidly.

Continue reading →

Rosalind Fox Solomon Interview: A Photographic Journey in Empathy

8943_457_9_Peru_1996-2

© Rosalind Solomon, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

In 1968, at the age of thirty-eight, Rosalind Fox Solomon began shooting photography during a trip to Japan. She was living with a family who spoke little English and slept on their futon. The pictures were in color and mostly experimental. In the early 70s, Solomon would switch from color to a black-and-white square format and begin a forty-eight-year-long exodus from the suburban East Coast— settling, instead, in the role of far traveling portrait maker, shooting extensively in Israel, Peru, and South Africa, among others.

Now, at the age of eighty-five, Solomon’s work is receiving the frequency of critical recognition that seemed to evade her. This past month she was featured at Bruce Silverstein Gallery and Brooklyn Museum. In February, her latest book, “Got to Go,” a collection of over seventy images that survey her work across time and geography, was published by MACK. The photographs all share an intensity of perception. They illuminate through an attraction to an unknowable interior, expressing the rough course of experience like a finely detailed biography or poem. Here, Rosalind speaks about the emotional and philosophical understandings of her work.

Continue reading →

Stephanie Segura Interview: Nostalgic Photo Zines That Explore Issues of Identity

042216e

A longer version of this article was originally published in Remezcla.

In 2014, Stephanie Segura, a Brooklyn-based photographer, helped found an art collective of writers, musicians, and visual artists called La Chamba Press. Pulling together unique histories and points of origin— ranging from the Caribbean to Mexico— the members aim to create work that makes the experience of the Latino diaspora easier to picture.

Segura, whose zines of Mexico were featured this year at Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair in Los Angeles, looks specifically at Mexican-American diaspora. Her bleached-processed Polaroids of home, ritual, and celebration bring to light Mexican culture as viewed through the eyes of a first-generation U.S. citizen. And although the photos catalog new experiences, they are rich with nostalgia, as if Segura is creating memories of a life that could have been, a history that anticipates her own.

I met Segura at El Regalo de Juquila in Bushwick, New York, to talk about her work. Telenovelas played loudly from a television sitting atop a row of refrigerators. We ate tacos, drank aguas frescas. In her zines, I see a political argument against ingrained images of Mexico that come from its own citizens or tourists. She disagreed. Instead, she sees her vibrant photographs of Mexico as nothing more than personal mementos. “If somebody connects with them, then fine,” she told me. “In the end, they’re just for me.”

This interview has been edited and condensed from the conversation Segura and I had at Regalo de Juquila.

Continue reading →

See Portraits of U.S. Citizens Who Move Back to Mexico

Q#1

A longer version of this article was originally published in Remezcla.

The U.S.-Mexico border is typically thought of as a place where people flow from south to north. They leave Mexico, it’s thought, in search of something better in the United States – not the other way around. But Americanos, a series of photographs taken by the Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena, contradicts this south-to-north view of immigration by showing those who move the opposite way.

Called “silent citizens” in Mexico, “Americanos” are legal citizens of the United States who, either by choice or through circumstance, return to Mexico. Some are children who were born in the United States and leave with their parents once citizenship is guaranteed. Others are older and cross back into Mexico illegally. “Most of them seemed completely uninterested in living in the U.S.,” Cartagena told me. “One went to high school for a year and decided to come back to Mexico because he didn’t ‘get’ the culture.”

Continue reading →

Mariela Sancari Interview: Portraits of a Young Woman’s Dead Father

biptico+sacomano+y+yo

The advertisement was short: I’m searching, it began in Spanish, for men between sixty-eight and seventy-two years old. On a corner was a portrait of man with closed-cropped hair and a warm smile. With clear eyes, it went on, who look like the man in the photo. At the bottom was a phone number.

The number belonged to Mariela Sancari, a photographer based in Mexico. Sancari posted the advertisement to begin a series of portraits about her father, Moisés Sancari, who killed himself in 1980. She sought to photograph men who might resemble her father had he lived to this day. The resulting portraits are collected in a critically acclaimed photo book Moisés, published in 2015.

I reached out to Sancari to learn more about Moisés and her work. We spoke briefly over email.

Continue reading →

[Free webinar] 5 Keys to Amazing Wedding photography

weddd

Join Daniel Usenko, a veteran wedding photographer as he shares his secrets on what it takes to get a PERFECT wedding photograph.

Daniel explains his philosophy on what makes a great photo as he breaks down step by step how he is able to capture incredible photos that made him an international instructor and world-renowned photographer that he is.

 

Date: 18th AprilMonday

Time: 11am PDT


 

Check out his work

we

wedd

w

Learn from a pro to become a pro wedding photographer.

 


Alejandra Laviada Interview: Sculptures Made From the Ruins of Mexico City’s Hotel Bamer

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 7.14.45 PM

In 2006, Alejandra Laviada spent time photographing the remains of a once prominent hotel in Mexico City named Hotel Bamer. A landmark of 1950s Mexico, the hotel was demolished soon after she left. From what remained after the demolition, Laviada took pieces of discarded wood and furniture to build sculptures that would serve as subjects for the subsequent series Re-Constructions.

Like the hotel they come from, the sculptures photographed in Re-Constructions are transient. Her photographs explore what it means to play with the camera’s relationship to time. A tension is brought out by the sculptures’ vulnerability. Inches from collapse, each one is seen a beat before a leg gives out or a stool topples over. The photographs reveal, like ones that can still the folds of a windswept curtain, time’s physical bearing — only these look backward. It’s the second before that you look, the moment when not moving comes closest to resembling permanence.

I spoke to Laviada over email about Re-Constructions and her ideas about photography.

Continue reading →