12.20.2013

Classroom: Mónica Lorenza Taborda

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

fototazo began a mentorship program in 2012, matching young Colombian photographers with mentors from across the spectrum of the photographic world - gallery owners, bloggers, academics, art directors and working photographers. The goal is to provide the young photographers with commentary and advice on their work from professionals in the field and to expand their network and knowledge of resources beyond Colombia.

The program started behind the scenes, but in an effort to create a singular conversation, share with readers work being made by the photographers, and under the belief that the advice, insight, and ways of talking about images offered by the mentors will be useful and interesting to other photographers, we are experimenting with making the process a public one.

We will be featuring a selection of images from a photographer involved in the program and comments from mentors approximately once a month. The current photographer and comments will be housed under a new classroom tab above and older posts will be available through the site links page.

This post features the work of Mónica Lorenza Taborda - who was our seventh microgrant recipient - and comments from her two assigned mentors, Wayne Ford and Mariela Sancari, as well as additional comments from Matt Johnston and Pieter Wisse.
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© Mónica Lorenza Taborda


© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Mónica asked her mentors specifically for help looking at a new project in its early stages. Her working statement follows.

The House of Vivi and Raul

The rigid and sedentary architecture is humanized by inhabiting it, the human being fills it with life and leaves its mark of identity, transforming the spaces of the house by the reflection in those spaces of who they are and at the same time the house is reflected in its inhabitants.

These photographs are a portrait of Viviana and Raul in the spaces of their home, alongside the other beings that inhabit it, their pets. They have adapted to the house in the countryside, surrounded by landscape, by a green that is cut by the colors of the clothes hanging from the trees, Viviana walking with their dogs, and the paint stains on the table. A house that shelters and comforts, not in and of itself, but as the reflection of those that inhabit it.

La casa de Vivi y Raul

La arquitectura rígida y sedentaria se humaniza al habitarla, el ser humano la llena de vida y deja en ella su huella de identidad, transformado los espacios con su ser que se refleja en ellos y a su vez la casa se refleja en sus habitantes.

Estas imágenes son el retrato de Viviana y Raul en los espacios de su casa, ellos junto a sus mascotas, los otros seres que la habitan, se apropian de aquella casa en el campo, rodeada de paisaje, de un verde que se corta con los colores de la ropa tendida entre los árboles, de los paseos de Viviana con sus perros, con los pigmentos sobre la mesa. Una casa que alberga y reconforta, no por si sola, sino por ser el reflejo de lo que son los seres que la habitan.
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© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Response from Matt Johnston:

Monica,

I think your statement is really interesting and although it is perhaps a little wordy for my taste, it sets forth some questions to ask and themes to look for in the images. I feel that the images do begin to deal with some of the concepts you are interested in, but only on the surface - they act almost as setting for the deeper exploration to begin.

The idea of the home shaped by inhabitants and vice versa is one that I think will resonate with people at the moment but would suggest you spend a great deal of time in this house with, and without it's occupants - when you get bored of looking for the things you think you need, you might find some real gems.

Maybe look at Oscar Tuazon's Leave Me Be and perhaps read some Thoreau (Walden) or Emerson? There might be further questions in looking at our need or desire to own property, land, and how the security of the home affect us emotionally.

MJ

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Response from Mariela Sancari:
[Ed. note: I hope to add a translation of this text to the post shortly time permitting]

Querida Mónica,

Creo que se podría trabajar un poco más el statement. Encuentro algunos problemas de puntuación y frases y enumeraciones largas que pueden ser un poco recargadas.

Tal vez me gustaría leer algo sobre esos habitantes, no como dándonos contexto sino como una introducción a esos personajes y sus historias.

Muchas veces, tomar prestada una cita textual (entrecomillada y con su referencia) de algún escritor, o filósofo o algún personaje que nos interese puede ayudarnos a transmitir en palabras de otro la idea o emoción que queremos representar.

En mi experiencia personal, te cuento que el statement de mi trabajo fue evolucionando conforme trabajaba en las imágenes. De hecho, la edición final del texto acabó siendo muy diferente de mis primeras propuestas. Tal vez es algo que puedas considerar e ir puliéndolo a lo largo de todo el desarrollo de la serie.

Otra cosa que creo que podría nutrir el trabajo o tu entendimiento acerca del proceso es tomar notas en cada visita que hagas a la casa de Viviana y Raúl. Estas notas pueden formar parte de una bitácora del proceso de la que tu puedes aprender mucho o finalmente puedes tener la opción de incluirlas como parte de la edición final de la serie. Trabajar imagen y texto es un reto muy interesante.

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Como te comentaba el otro tutor, creo que luego de leer el statement vemos que las imágenes son apenas una aproximación a la intención del proyecto. Como fotógrafa puedo ver que todavía no tienes mucho material de donde editar, por eso me uno a la sugerencia del otro tutor de pasar mucho más tiempo fotografiando en la casa, en los alrededores, con Viviana y Raúl, sin ellos, sus objetos, la arquitectura que mencionas, los espacios de noche, etc.

Conforme pase el tiempo te podrás convertir en un testigo silencioso donde otras situaciones, detalles, luces, objetos resaltarán más como producto de la verdadera experiencia de habitar ese espacio y no solamente como registro del lugar y las personas.

Siento que es difícil no volverse repetitivo cuando ciertas escenas que ves te encantan pero es muy importante ser estricto y entrenar nuestra mirada y animarnos a ir un poco más allá de lo inmediato. Esto puede ser resultado también de no haber pasado suficiente tiempo con ellos y me imagino que más adelante podrás encontrar otras imágenes también interesantes.

Creo que tenemos que ser muy cuidadosos con la composición y el tratamiento de la luz, sobre todo en interiores. Sé que es complicado trabajar adentro de una casa cuando no está muy bien iluminada y estas escenas pierden mucho de su poética si usas flash pero tal vez en algunas ocasiones sería una buena opción usar tripié porque hay ciertas imágenes barridas o con el foco medio difuso que si no están bien justificadas en la narrativa de la serie, no deberíamos incluirlas. Su intención tiene que ser clara y tener sentido en la estética del resto del trabajo.

¡Tienes un proyecto muy interesante! Sigue trabajando y verás como las imágenes solas te irán llevando.

Espero que te sirvan mis comentarios. Si tienes alguna duda o pregunta, mándamela y te respondo con gusto.

Seguimos en contacto,

Mariela

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Response from Pieter Wisse:

Hi Mónica,

Thank you for sharing your work with us. I think the idea of identity reflected by a house and vice versa is interesting and most people can relate to it. Your statement is well written yet creates some expectations.

I understand that the photographs shown are a start for this project. You have several elements within this project that are good to work with. Both Vivi and Raul have interesting faces that show a lot of character. The house and its surroundings also contain a lot of character. This is positive yet also poses a problem. You can get stuck on these photogenic elements and not go deeper into what you are truly attempting to convey to the audience or yourself. The photographs until now shown me the surface; where they live and what they look like (and that they have dogs). This sounds very simplistic but this is where we start reading photography. I feel that you are still a little in your comfort zone without taking risks.

Now is the time to really dive in to your subject matter and that takes time. As Matt Johnston said, you really need to spend a lot of time at their house, but also with Vivi and Raul, whether in the house or on the way to the grocery store so that we can really get a grasp of who these people are.

What you should really attempt is to get a deeper layer in your work. Even though your statement sounds very good, it is still missing a few pieces. The most important is the “why are you doing this project?” I would encourage you to really sit down and research within yourself why you (with the accent on “you”) are doing this project. I believe that if you really dig deep within yourself you will get to the real essence of what you are trying to tell us. You are the photographer, therefore you are the one who makes all the choices. I think if you really know the answer, your focus will be much clearer.

It is a great start but you need to take some steps and find your focus. I'm curious to see more. Good luck.

Pieter

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

Response from Wayne Ford:

Mónica,

The concept of identity can be a complex one; however I like your approach in identifying the physical space of the house and its occupants as well as the surrounding landscape as it is a concept that we can all relate to on one level or not. You have the potential to explore your subjects on multiple layers and in many dimensions, with each new layer or chapter revealing something new and previously unseen of their relationship, their pets and the physical space; both within the confines of the house and beyond.

The aims of your project are clearly defined in your statement, yet you leave yourself freedom and opportunity as a photographer to fully explore and embrace the complexity of your subject, and as you do I suspect your aims will be become further focused.

I understand that the photographs you show here are the start of the project, and serve to offer an initial introduction to Vivi and Raul and their home. And on that level it serves well.

As you spend more time with Vivi and Raul and take more photographs, you will change your edit time-and-time again as your level of trust and understanding grows and as your objectives as a photographer mature. However I wonder if this initial edit could be a little more concise in voice and tone.

There are a few images that to my mind duplicate each other. For example: the first two images of Vivi walking her dogs, communicate a similar message to me and I think it would be interesting for you to look again at your edit and sequence with a more concise objective.

There are two photographs where the clothes line features dominantly, do you need both? Would one be a more succinct form of punctuation in the visual narrative? And the dogs feature in many photographs, now I can see that the animals are a big part of Vivi and Rail's life, however I would look for a balance of narrative at this stage of the project that offers the viewer a more objective overview from which you can build outwards exploring each layer in greater depth.

The portrait of Vivi and Raul inside the house is well observed and offers us the first glimpse of the couples relationship together. And it is certainly an area of your project that will only evolve and one I look forward to seeing. The intimate portrait of Vivi alone demonstrates to me that you have already built a level of trust with the couple that is essential as a photographer as you seek to build upon your fascinating project. Overall this work offers great promise!

WF

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda

© Mónica Lorenza Taborda