Do you ever travel to Chicago to shoot? Bloomington isn't too far away.
I love visiting Chicago, but mostly just to walk around and enjoy it. I haven’t really shot there. If you have a cool space where we could shoot, then I’d definitely consider it. Why don’t you send me a message to discuss.
Eduardo, your work is stunning. As a budding filmmaker, I'd like to ask you a personal question of your commercial success. Feel free to ignore, but I have a feeling you wouldn't mind answering, in fact you might enjoy sharing your experiences. Your shots oozes passion. Are you doing well financially pursuing your dream? - Robin.
Hei there. I don’t do photography commercially. In fact, I deliberately make it a point to not make a profit with it, even when I’m offered. I make a living as a scientist - my other passion. I consider myself lucky to be able to do photography divorced from profit. As far as I can tell, this is the only way I would be happy to do it.
ps. That I am an academic should give you a hint that I do not pursue financial aspirations, in general. I’m in this life purely to derive joy from attempting to produce genuine contributions to the arts and sciences.
Is there a reason you don't photograph many women of color?
No, there isn’t. Regardless of what ‘color’ you categorize yourself as, if you are interested in being photographed by me simply send me a message. This project for me is about raw, natural beauty - regardless of anything else. One thing this project is not, however, is the census.
I wish you lived in or closer to Texas...I love your photos and although I've never seriously modeled before I'd love to do so for your work.
:) Thanks for the kind words. Austin is most certainly high on my to-visit list. About working together, there’s a certain rawness and sincerity about working with people who haven’t modeled before that I love. So I’m always glad to have the chance to work with non-models.
I am excited to announce I’ll be making a second book, partly to celebrate 4444 likes over on the old Facebook page - as I had promised. I enjoyed and learnt so much from making the first one, 3333. I’ve been brainstorming a bunch of ideas about how to make this second one a lot better. The book will be a really beautiful linen hardcover. It will contain 44 of my all time favorite photos - about 90% of them will be from existing published work, and 10% will be photos that I have never shown before. I will also include some text that explains a little bit what this project is about for me and why I’m doing it. I will make more copies this time (I only made 2 copies of 3333), but still a relatively small and limited amount. As with 3333, I will keep the first copy and give away the second. I will sell the rest of the copies, signed and numbered, for a price that will be as close to the production as I can make it. So, as soon as things calm down, I will make an announcement with more details about the book. In the meantime, thank you so much for the love and support of this project. (And I guess next time I’ll have to set a goal based on a tumblr metric instead :).
The situation continues to worsen in Venezuela. Over the last 7 days students and others have taken to the streets to protest against the government. There are many concerns, but they all revolve around, or are the product of, a regime that is too powerful. The situation has been tense for the last 15 years, but over the last week it has gotten worse quickly. Amidst the growing number of reports of military violence against protesters on the streets, including several deaths, there are now also reports of patrolling and violence towards individuals in their private property. The persecution is being executed not just by the government’s military and police, but also by a series of well-known seriously armed paramilitary groups. Beyond the violent oppression, two of the most worrying things are the incarceration of one of the main leaders of the opposition, and the lack of serious reporting by the media (as with most other branches of power, the media is now also largely at the service of the government). The government has made it clear it will not back down, nor will it engage in serious dialogue with those who oppose them. To circumvent conversation, they’ve adhered monotonically to the line that any opposition is merely the product of imperialist forces.
Unless you are Venezuelan, there is a chance you are not aware of the human rights violations occurring there now. Indeed, there hasn’t been much coverage from the international news outlets, which is understandable within the context of all the also serious violations going on in Ukraine, Egypt, Yemen and Nigeria at the moment.
So besides worrying for the safety of my family and friends, I go back and forth between being cautiously optimistic and being completely disheartened. There are many examples of peaceful struggles overthrowing regimes. But in the thick of it, practically, it all seems so hard to organize. And for every peaceful struggle that ended successfully, I wonder how many other struggles failed by either turning violent or simply being oppressed. In the meantime, Venezuelans are out on the street fighting back.
how do you direct your models? i've always had trouble getting them to be comfortable around the camera.
I’m not a fan of the idea of directing people. In general, I do not like the emphasis our society gives to hierarchical structures, where some have more power than others. I try to avoid asymmetries in any aspect of life, particularly in my interaction with others. I find that all too boring. I’m much more interested in ideas of self-organization. Rather than trying to portray some concept I have inside my head, onto a subject that is willing to do what I want; I’m more interested in finding out what can emerge from our interaction. If the photograph is to communicate something, I want it to be something that did not exist in any one of our heads prior to it materializing through the ongoing interaction. I think there is a far richer beauty in that subtle human dance than in any one specific concept that I (or anyone else) could make a subject do. Comfortableness, thus, is merely an emergent property of the interaction you craft. Focus on establishing an interaction with a human being, that you are genuinely interested in, and who is no more or less than you, and not on “directing” them, and comfortableness, or maybe something even more interesting, will arise.
How can a person try to build a body of work like yours without risking to sound like a copy of yours?
hehe, I’m not sure if this is meant as a compliment, but thank you. I don’t think anyone can produce work like anyone else, hard as they may try. Our life histories shape what we produce. Uniqueness is inevitable. In other words, go forth and create. Do not worry about the product, focus on the process. In your head you may be inspired by anything that you set your mind to, certain music, certain movies, specific painters, writers, photographers, etc. What will come out in the end will be unique to you and how you see beauty in the world.
hi, i'm a hobbyist photographer. before i stumbled upon your works, portrait was never my big thing, i kinda like it but not super into it. then i came across your works. holy crap they're stunning!! it makes me wanna get more into this, so i grabbed couple of friends and just start shooting with them haha. i just wanna let you know that you inspired me, and i believe that i'm not the only one. keep up the good work man, bigger things ahead. cheers :)
This is always great to hear. Thanks for sharing the kind words.
I am a student here at IU, and would love to be photographed by you because I love the pictures you have taken of my friends. But, I have not modeled since I was a child and I am afraid you are only looking for dancers/professionals of some sort. Are you open to photographing anyone interested or only women with a lot of prior experience/dancers?
Hei, thanks for writing. I’m not looking just for dancers or professional models. I’m simply interested in beauty, raw and natural. No prior modeling experience required. Send me a message to discuss further.
Why do you mostly photograph dancers/ballerinas? What do you find so fascinating about them?
I have shot just about equal parts dancers, models, and random girls. There are qualities that are specific to each group that I absolutely love. Regardless of that initial distinction, however, what is common to all of the girls I shoot is that I find them utterly beautiful. To answer your second question, I’ll enumerate a few of the things I love the most about working with ballerinas. (1) Their form. Each activity a person engages in habitually tunes their body in a very specific way. I find ballerinas’ bodies to be tuned in one of the most humanly beautiful ways: an unequaled blend of strength and delicacy, perfectly balanced. (2) The way they move. Ballerinas are trained to express themselves with movements - this is obvious enough. Nothing is less convincing than statically posed photographs. Any attempt at studying expressions of beauty have to be attempted through movement. (3) Ballerinas are performers. They have a keen eye not just on what they are doing with their body, but how it looks to the audience that is in front of them. Their acute sense of perspective is a quality that took me some time to recognize, but that is so obviously key to photography. (4) They are overly critical. Ballerinas always think they can do better. They push themselves hard. They know they can get a better shot. When we are going through photos, they are the first to point out the flaws. This aligns well with me - they are searching for the one photo out of hundreds that shows the perfection that is in their heads. They never settle for less than it. (5) They are incredibly friendly and down to earth. Perhaps it’s just the group I know here in Bloomington. But the ballerinas I’ve met are people I would easily be good friends with. This is a crucial point for me, that I can see may not be the same for other photographers. I enjoy connecting with people. For me one of the most beautiful outcomes of a shoot is to end up with a new friend, someone I can not only collaborate with artistically, but also grab a cup of coffee and have a laugh. (6) They are natural. It’s not trivial to find the subset of people I think are naturally beautiful who are also willing to be photographed. More often, the people who want to be photographed have a certain look that can be somewhat artificial. With ballerinas, I have the opportunity to shoot people who have no model aspirations, and are therefore beautifully ordinary, untainted by the conventional model look. The last point is rather subtle, but it is one of the main reasons I like working with them. There are many other reasons why I love working with ballerinas, but these are some of the ones that come to mind first. Great question - thank you!
Have you worked with muslin or seamless paper for your backdrops? If so, which do you prefer and why? If you prefer neither, why not?
I’ve only worked with one muslin - ever. I have no idea what brand it is. I bought it off eBay for something like $30 when I started shooting about three years ago. If I had more time/energy I’d love to try all sorts of other options.
Your photography, philosophy, and work process made me question almost everything I believe about photography, and confirmed some things I believed about it, too. Thanks. You're a true artist. it would be awesome to see you and your camera in action. Ever thought about creating a video of one of your photo sessions?
Thanks for the kind words - I’m really glad to hear all of it. And yes, I’d be more than happy for someone to film during a shoot. I just don’t have the time to arrange it myself.
If you drop down the vibrance so low how do you manage to keep the red leotard for example so colorful
That’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure to be honest. My intuition is that it’s all very relative, very contextual - the leotard probably doesn’t look as red if we were to put it neck to a normally-vibrant photo.