I started this project as a mere interest in portraiture. As an exercise I told myself I would go to the street, set up a white background and ask people if they wanted to be photographed, sort of Avedon style. There is something very challenging, intriguing and beautiful about photographing people, that we call “strangers”, in the street, it forces you to really look at people that passes by, to wonder about who they are, their stories.
I decided to go to Elmhurst/ Jackson Heights, commonly known as a Latin neighborhood, which I feel very connected to, and I love. Yet, I can't say I know it well. I wonder what identify us, what makes this community, and how this neighborhood has been represented.
I was nervous at first and as I approached people I was very intrigue by their reactions as I wonder about the social aspects of photographing people. What are you going to use this for? Where is this going to appear? I think it is great that people ask about the uses of the images and question the act of photographing, people in history have been misrepresented in the media many times and it is important to become conscious of it. I ask myself why some people don't want to be represented? The act of photographing can sometimes be very violent, always looking what to take, don’t giving anything back. Many communities are look upon a term I hate “the other”, so who is looking?
I wonder about how the social implications of photography and how its relation with subjects has changed, having a portrait taken used to be a symbol of status, and I guess is some aspect it still is, as it gives a space for recognition, for saying “here I am, this is what I have to say” but people don’t want to be seen as poor, exotic, strange, miserable and so on…
A lot of people distrust photography, and I did not want to be photographed, and I totally understand the reasons. Yet a lot of people did accept to having their portrait taken, they became interested by the act, they stopped their walk and we started a conversation beyond photography and we shared a moment, which is something I once believed photography could do.
I hope to continue doing this project. These are some of the portraits taken so far.