Walter Valda, 36
I still use the WordPress hosting for this blog, so my options for slideshows are limited because I can not embed java script (unless I move my blog onto my own server and admin it, which I plan to do when the new website goes up). I had toyed with the idea of creating a movie using Final Cut Pro, but then realized I didn’t have the disc space to assemble 204 photos and iMovie makes a blurry mess out of photos, so I was stuck with one of the three options WordPress allows.
This is the one I chose.
With that explanation over, let me get to the project. This is about 9 months of work. Hanging out, talking, photographing, going to the comedor, going to marches, and protests. It has been an interesting 9 months. Of the overwhelming plethora of photos I have taken, I edited down to 204. About 90 of them are portraits and the others are working, protesting, etc…
I’ve posted the portraits before, but the plan is as you see here. To mix context with portraits that lack context. To see the environment and to see the people.
There is no title as of yet. Maybe something like La Gente Común. Not that they are common people, but everyday people. I am fascinated by people. Thoughts, lives, views of the world. Perhaps that is why I am currently torturing myself by living in a foreign country (or so it feels at times, but I say this with all the love of someone who would have it no other way).
But why care about gente común? That question was haunting me, the purpose, the ‘news’ catch, the heart jerker, the reason why you should look, but more personally, the reason why am I photographing these people?
I went back to one of my idols for inspiration:
It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy. ~Elliott Erwit
That quote answers both questions above. Why am I photographing these people and why should you look. First, I delight in noticing simple things, in discovering the world through different eyes, different views, political or otherwise. The subtle message of a dirty screen used to make T-shirts for the Ministry of Health, the scribbling of a name on a table in ink, the concentration of people at work, the laughter and reaction when standing in-front of a camera for a portrait, and more.
Shooting the portraits was particularly satisfying. I chose to give little direction. I sometimes waited a bit as someone stepped onto the white cloth, looked up at me and I watched as their body settled into a form, and identity, a person. A person with context of their lives embedded in their skin.
Look around long enough and there are plenty of things to notice.
Secondly, I think we could all benefit from a little more concern for ‘humanity and the human comedy.’ Whether they are like you, like us, like them, not like us, the same, different, politically opposite, rich like you, poor like you, on the same side, same team, same religion, foreign, alien, resident, or from “a small planet in the vicinity of Betelguise”.
But you get my point.
“It’s simply a matter of noticing things,” and it’s not the extraordinary we fail to notice.
So you’ve been warned. The slideshow has 204 images. It takes a while to view, but you can also look at the photos independently.
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