Week 15: Rebirth

Can you believe it?!  I’m all caught up on this challenge!  Who’d a thunk that while amidst the planning of finals and and completing projects that this would be the time I caught up, but here I am.  And I couldn’t be happier to be caught up with a different theme or photo.

Rebirth.  It can mean so many different things in so many different contexts.  It’s a word that has had a particular significance to me over the past two years, so I’m always happy to do some work surrounding this theme.  And even better, it coincided with a project that I was competing for class.  You know I love it when I can hit two birds with one stone!

The project that we had for class surrounded the idea of “constructed reality”, or tableau photography — creating a scene, world, scenario which does not occur naturally, but in a strange way, could possibly happen.  Playing with the border between truth and fiction.  That’s the best explanation I can give for this, because honestly, I had a terrible time thinking of something to do for this project.  The examples my professor gave the class were vast, which was equally helpful and harmful.  Just as I thought I was getting a grasp on what he was asking for, a whole other group of artists would come up which were completely different, and I would be thrown off again.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate the broad overview of example artists he shows us — they have amazing work.  Some of my favorites, which you should go check out, were Duane Michaels, David Hockney, and (this one’s a little creepy) Joel-Peter Witkin.  Three very different styles, three very different conceptual minds, and three equally awesome artists.  So, in wanting to emulate all of them, and not sure how one single idea could encompass that and the parameters of the assignment, I was stuck.

The night before I had to bring in “progress”, I still had nothing.  All day during my classes I was trying to think of something to do for the next day.  I had a bunch of ideas, but nothing feasible this short notice.  Ah, the blight of wanting models in my photographs.  So I dug a little deeper, and this idea came to me, finally.  It was actually something that I had thought of during one of my film photography classes, but for some reason, filed it away in my “will probably never happen” group of photography ideas.  I’m really glad I decided to drudge it up and give it a try.

This whole idea started when I first returned back to school, and was debating leaving my old job and finding something that would actually make me happy.  I wish I could say it was at one of my hardest times, and that things got better from there, but I’m just now starting the incline again.  Even then, however, I would dream about how great life could be, and what it would feel like to let all the stress and drama of my then current life behind.  Flowers and nature have always seemed like a great avenue for me to express a lot of complex ideas, and this project made good use of that.  In correlation with this feeling of wanting a new life, and now revisiting it from a perspective of “rebirth”, along with having gone through some major changes, I wanted to be able to express both the pain and beauty in changes simultaneously.

Although it may be a little unsettling to look at, I really am in love with the result I achieved.  I needed something visceral, raw, an essentially disgusting, to really describe how difficult things have been.  On the other hand, I was dreaming of a new, beautiful life, and since then, have made large strides to work towards it, and wanted an element which would exemplify that sentiment as well.  I chose to place the wound (which was incredibly, surprisingly, easy to make) on my wrist.  I think location is meaningful in itself, as many associate this type of wound with self-harm, and in a sense, living the life I was living was doing exactly that, killing me.  The flower that I chose, Star of Bethlehem, though possessing religious connotations which I didn’t not directly relate to this project, represents all of the things that I imagine this new life, or rebirth, will bring.  Hope, for a better life.  Forgiveness, to myself for not doing this sooner.  Honesty, to stay true to myself.  Innocence and Purity, for all the good, new things, untainted by my previous life.

I love it, and I’m even more excited to keep working on this type of imagery.  I’ll be extending this work for my final, so maybe you’ll see a little more of this soon, ya know, if this doesn’t gross you out too much 😉

rebirth

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Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina

Remember how I said that I had (tragically) lost my pictures from the trip I took to Argentina?  Well, surprise!  After doing some serious searching, digging through all kinds of old stuff, and finally finding my stash of old photos, I found them!  Hooray!!!  So as an ode to the assumed long-lost photos, and in line with the photography challenge this week of “architecture”, I’m taking you on a little journey through Argentina, and some of the wonderful places that I saw during my visit.

Not everyone knows that I’m half spanish, and that my grandparents on my mother’s side both grew up in Argentina.  My grandmother came over by responding to an ad she saw in the newspaper to teach spanish to a family and their children who lived here in the states, and my grandfather came over with the Argentine Embassy, or as a stow away, or to visit New York….He was an infamous story-teller, as well as an elaborate and imaginative exaggerator, which was wonderful, yet unfortunate in this situation, because we all have different accounts as to how he actually got here!  I’m going to stick with the story he told me; it was the last one we got, and unprovoked, so I’m thinking it was true 🙂  Lela & Lelo — when I was a child, I wasn’t able to say “abuela” and “abuelo”, so their unique names were born.  Lela grew up in La Plata, which is about 30-45 minutes away from the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, where Lelo grew up.  They came over separately, one to Connecticut, and the other to New York.  Some years later their paths crossed, ended up in the DC area, and the rest is history.  Small world!

My grandmother often goes back to Argentina during the winter to escape the cold that is here during those months.  One year my bother, his friend, and my aunt were lucky enough to go with her, and meet several members of our Argentine family with whom we’ve only spoken to briefly, and usually via translator (aka my mother), on the phone.  It was one of the best experiences in my life, and I’m so happy to have been able to experience it with at least one of my grandparents.

We began our trip, and spent most of our time with one of my grandmother’s nieces, who lives just a short ride from downtown Buenos Aires.  We took walks around the city, saw places that my grandmother loved to visit near Florida Street, and experienced what the city had to offer.  It was a beautiful mix of the old, intricate, and antique buildings, strong with Italian influence, nestled on small streets between current day sky scraper-type buildings.  I was much more partial to the older buildings, and was amazed at the detail and skill that it must have taken to create their intricacies.  The streets buzzed with entertainers, artists, performers, locals and tourists alike, and there were what seemed like an infinite amount of things to see and shops to visit.  Over several visits to the down town area, we got to explore the busy city, see La Casa Rosada (which you won’t see here, since it was under construction while I was there and couldn’t get a good pic), and the Floralis Genérica, which was designed to open during the day and close as night.

Among all of the things that I could have seen while in Buenos Aires, my favorite thing, as well as some of my favorite pictures from the trip, were from a cemetery that we visited.  Imagine that.  At least it was a notable cemetery to visit; La Recoleta Cemetery, which contains the tombs of several famous people (like Eva Perón), presidents, and several other notable individuals.  It definitely didn’t have the feel of a cemetery, as it was filled with mausoleums, vaults, buildings and sculptures, and not any actual grave sites.  It seems that at one point it wasn’t as closely cared for as it was when I visited; several of the tomes were damaged and appeared that people have broken into them.  Though it’s incredibly disrespectful, I have to say it gave the location and my images another element of interest, and allowed me to peek into a few of them (a little creepy, I know, I couldn’t help it).  I suppose that not all of these qualify as “architectural photography”, but they’re my favorites, and there are a few that qualify in there.

Another quick stop in Buenos Aires was the town of El Tigre, which lies on Paraná Delta (river).  A charming little town with shops, bakeries, a huge market, and a ferris wheel and rides near the dock where you can ride around the river in a little tour boat.  If you’re ever there, you have to get some pastellitos — wish I could remember which bakery we got them from, because they were amazing!  But getting back to architecture, again, I don’t have a lot of classic examples.  The river was lined with picturesque cottages and dock-style homes, as well as some larger structures, such as the rowing club mansion and museums.

We also visited the Caminito, which translates to “little walkway”.  El Caminito is located in La Boca, which is another little neighborhood in Buenos Aires.  From thriving little town along a railroad to an actual landfill, the Caminito has gone through quite a few transformations.  There are still some remnants giving evidence that this area was once a landfill, but thanks to artist Benito Quinquela Martín, the area has been revitalised over the more recent past, and is now a vibrant tourist attraction.  The brightly colored buildings are truly unique, and make for a lovely adventure on a warm summer day.

Last but not least on  my list of Argentina Architecture are the waterfalls of Iguazú.  Waterfalls and Architecture? Why, yes!  Though this isn’t your typical architecture, the catwalks were really something which I found interesting, I mean, besides the breath-taking views of the falls.  But sorry, no falls for you today, we’re talking architecture, so maybe another time.  Just incase you were wondering, Iguazú is NOT located in Buenos Aires, since its seems like every place which I’ve talked about has been.  Trust me, we visited other places, La Plata, Mar de Plata, and so on — I didn’t spend three weeks in another country just looking around one area!  Located on northeastern tip of Argentina in the Misiones province, the Falls at Iguazú boarder Brazil, and are accessible through the city of Puerto Iguazú on the Argentine side.  Before visiting, I was excited to see the sights and check out the falls.  After visiting, I was amazed, and learned quite a few interesting facts about the location.  Did you know that the falls can actually dry up??  These massive falls which span for miles have actually been know to dry up a few times since their discovery, and did so most recently in 2006.  Did you also know that Iguazú is considered one of the natural seven wonders of the world?  Iguazú is the 5th largest waterfall in the world by width, spanning 8800 feet, and the 13th largest by volume, with an average discharge of 61,660 cubic feet per second according to the World Waterfall Database.  And did you know that the catwalks and viewing platforms that teeter over the edge of the falls, including the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), the largest of the 275 falls, were listed as one of the World’s 8 scariest viewing platforms by National Geographic?  I didn’t know that at the time, but in retrospect, I can see how they could be considered some of the scariest!  If you have a fear of heights and want to check out these falls, you may not want to check out these images, particularly the ones of the destroyed catwalks right near the viewing platform for la Garganta del Diablo fall.  It’s been replaced, so I’m sure everything will be just fine….until another flood.

So, did you enjoy the journey?  I sure did!  Hope I get another chance to visit even more places with my family sometime soon!  Oh, and incase you were wondering, yes, I know these are old, and yes I know the point of the 52 week challenge is to get out there and take pictures every week.  Don’t worry, I did!  These were just too good not to share, especially after I have been missing them for so long 🙂

Week 15: Architecture

Thinking of this week’s assignment gets me thinking of all of the photographs that I’ve lost.  Yes, you heard me, lost.  Tragic.  I’m the one who boasts about never losing or breaking anything, and I mean really, like never — I try really hard, and I’m freakishly organized!  Of all the things to lose, I have lost some of the most precious things to me, but I guess that’s what happens when technology gets outdated and replaced so often, and you move 10 times in 11 years.  Not too bad when you think of it.  The upside is, that in trying to organize my photos over the last year, I actually realized that I did lose some, and started backing things up, so hopefully this never happens again.

ANYWAYS….this week’s assignment is architecture!  Among the “lost photos” were some of my favorite architecture examples; old buildings, churches, and cemeteries from my trip to Argentina, and the quintessential California beach picture of the lifeguard stand nearly silhouetted in the sunset.  But alas, I have a chance to move on from my lost memories, and capture some new images.  Architecture, though I used to be more interested in photographing it, has now become one of those things I seem to stray away from, kind of…  I think I have that perception because I’m not quite sure what classifies as “architectural photography”.  Is it just a picture of a building, or can it be something a little more specific about building, or maybe not a building at all, and just a man-made structure of some sort.  Either way, I’m glad that I’ll have the opportunity to give it another try, and I’ll do a little research as to what the official definition is.

More often than not, when taking pictures of buildings or structures, I seem to focus on particular parts or aspects of them, and not capturing them in their totality or on a larger scale.  With that being said, I seem to treat historical or famous sites as something that needs to be fully captured, and rarely take close up photos of them.  Unlike what I consider your typical architecture photographs, like taking pictures of city buildings or skylines, I find myself taking pictures of bridges, doorways, or just portions of different architectural features.  During this week, I’m going to try to keep all of those things in mind while shooting.  Hopefully I’ll end up with some successful images of actual buildings, but who knows —  I probably won’t be able to stay away from the creepy doorway or abandoned building if I come across one 🙂  Here are a few architectural examples from my past work.  I’m going to quadruple check my photo archives now in hopes to find the coveted “lost photos”.  Wish me luck!