We’re happy to introduce Italian-born, Mexican-based photographer Alex Coghe, whose project HARI is currently available for print via Peecho’s global print fulfillment service.
I WOULD THANK VANNI PANDOLFI TO INCLUDE MY PHOTO IN THE BESTSELECTED OF JUNE:
Honored to be included with this photograph in the selection of June in BestSelected. A photograph realized in the state of Mexico recently.
You can find my photo altogether with a lot of stunning images here:
My work in the barrio of the Jorge Negrete responds to how I see it. A certain earthiness emerges immediately, with a dusty asphalt. And with the focus to make a documenattion as faithful as possible is fundamental to preserve this particular identity that the neighborhood in the north of Mexico City has.
As you can observe the color palette in these photos is organically connected to the scene itself. The rust of the can and the headlight of the first photo, the broken tiles and stones of the second, the stones, the asphalt and the buildings in the third image.
When I’m doing this kind of photographic work clearly there is a research and precise will to maintain a certain aesthetic in all the photos. An aesthetic that does not rely on post production, but is sought after through the subjects and scenes photographed.
After part 1 published some weeks ago that you can read by clicking here, I want to go more in depth with my self analysis.
Apart from their documentary values, however, my pictures are formally mindful.
In a sense that any photograph that I make tries to respect a certain aesthetic proposal.
What connects all the pictures is a certain unifying consciousness, that precious subjectivity at the moment to make the photograph, by attempting to link in each frame the immediate reality that lead me to recognize a photograph as part of my vision and then presenting my photographer’s own emotional and psychological mindset.
In the picture above that I chosen as the opener of this article I think is evident my formal attention in presenting geometric forms: rectangles, lines, squares. Of course is not just a photograph of a section of the building. The colors, the position of the plants, anything is working in this picture in order to present my eye as a photographer. While the frame can seem played in one dimension, the flatness is broken by the building on the left, with the line starting from the extreme superior left angle: this is my way to declare that the photo is not 1 dimension, I am giving you the sense of depth, giving you the physicality of the real world.
In this second picture I worked to establish my metaphorical vocabulary and I present what I can express through a photographic language and what is my inner understanding of the world: by photographing the subject from the back, and yet providing the feelings of the woman, giving a sense of meditation and melancholy that is suggested also by the gloomy light. There is in my opinion also in this picture that ‘link’ between what the picture is and my own reaction, in order to create something similar in the approach and therefore connected with my vision as a storyteller photographer.
Please pay attention with the fact I am making a different kind of street photography respect to what I was used to do in the past, and how today I’m not trying to get human subjects to take the whole scene. Despite the woman is an important presence fundamental to present a story is not just about her. In fact I think the windows of the car parked across the street play an important role in that search for connection between my photos. My studies enable my photography to be used for the expressive ends included in my recent social landscape work. The work in this sense achieves to propose a particular conception of how the medium might be used to document life and therefore human condition and to communicate that encounter to the viewer.
The narrative is not imposed in the idea to respond to a unique vision and they need to work alone. I just follow an approach that is part of my studies and the acquired experience where anyone can make their aesthetic comparisons between the images as a kind of visual free-association. Look at the photograph above: again the windows play an important role and are “managed” to balance the shot. The pole separates, but not in the middle this time, because the real division is given by the end of the yellow-brown building. The street corner element is presented also in the other building, and where we can also appreciate the mountain behind.
The structure of my work has to also be understood as subjective so I offer to the viewer a certain criteria to determine the narrative sequence. More and more the viewer gets familiar with my way of framing and more this will be clear.An embouchure that nothing is random in my vision can be given by a key in this photo: pay attention that the pole exactly hides a line of tiles.
While I am interested to present my vision and a homogeneous aesthetic the photographs can be different and presenting several narratives, with different levels of reading, depending on what I find on the street and maybe the reading key can be just the way I solved the puzzle, forming my own narrative.
In this picture for example. This is the perfect example of what I am trying to present with my visual search in the barrios. I can affirm that the photo works pretty well.
Look how the structure (composition) is based on a set of features that I chosen in order to communicate according to my intentions. The dog makes the photograph, in my opinion. Because the dog reveals to the viewer my presence. Not the woman, because she is not looking at me at all. Without the dog we would have a completely different scene. An observation of a urban landscape with the human presence in there. The dog include us. And its presence with that way to look in camera is a way to introduce to us the scene. In any case the frame counts with a lot of other interesting elements. Again the windows on the background, the blue door on the right, the green van (but with some parts in blue) on the left, and pay attention to small portions of elements on the left that are balanced from the small part of the van in the background building.
If you ask me what I like also in this scene is the asphalt. The asphalt of this barrio is dusty, and I love it!
This is a place that I photographed a lot of times and I keep to photograph. And in the sense of having a narrative it leads me to a plot giving a physiognomy to my photos of the social landscape. The trajectory of mylife, gives form to my work. I photograph in the barrio because I live in the barrio, so I am the barrio. Exactly as we are the place that we live in that moment.
Again…pay attention to the objects. in my opinion the elements reveal a lot from a documentary point of view of a certain place. So it happens that I am not just photographing the place but also how we live the place…how the people living in that place…their human condition.
The picture above was realized in the same street and repeats the flattened, head-on view of the previous 2 to it, where again the floor is important to give us an aesthetic and the same narrative. The human subject is very important to present the story, but we can see only the legs and this leave freedom to the viewer to build their own film. A photograph, in my opinion, builded on the necessity to dig into the memory through this old street game, usually played by little girls.
The painted numbers on the asphalt and those legs, with the shoes not touching the floor. The dynamism of the photo makes the story.
The structural principle underlying the narrative in this last picture is a state of tension given from the main subject and the reason why I photographed: the wall of plexiglass as working in a balance of opposing forces, the urban where we are and the nature behind the plexiglass, it is a screen also and it isrepresenting a contrast between freedom and enclosure, inside and outside, reality and dream, where in this dichotomy between flatness and depth, we have a blurred windown on a possible utopian future.
We need to consider a fact with this picture: The tension is elaborated visually thanks to visual metaphors in order to present my vision of the world. In this sense the photographer has a great power. As I repeat often this is not just landscape but is much more than that. I can convey a political message.
Through these 2 articles I hope I was able to present part of my vision and what are my photos. Some may find my overall approach, however, is worth pointing out is not when the photo was taken. Certainly it is not what many expect by seeing my photos and probably the reason why only some really manage to get into my way of living and feeling photography. Through this blog I will keep to propose food for thought, with the certainty that my photographic readers will appreciate.
Let’s take this photo.
Perspective guides the viewer. The reflections in the water, however, allow to bring him to the observation of the leaves and therefore recall the tree that bends towards the river. It is not a clean perspective, just the shaft stops or at least makes it uncomfortable eye path. It is not a reassuring landscape: garbage emerges from the water. On the left side the orange construction is just a portion.
By not presenting the full structure I am declaring that the world continues beyond the frame. And at the same time it balances the composition. I framed not perfectly centrally, a conscious choice precisely to lead photography to a more conceptual level and less tied to compositional precision.
Of course we are looking a river but also a triangle allowing to recognize a geometric shape.
The cloudy sky leads to a feeling of melancholy.
In a metaphysical approach of being there to photograph I can consider how much this river can be the path to go, as if it were a promise of infinity. An infinity of what nature is not known. But…pay attention. To the superior angle of the triangle we can see a small building with a small squared door. What is that? What is beyond that door? Where are we going? Is it the end? Or rather the beginning?
Postcards from a taxi cab.
Or the essence of living…
How much does a photo of real lead me to present portions of my existence?
So my photograph becomes a diary. Intense, bloody, that can be daydreaming for everyone else.
Of a limping wander. Of creations from nothing. Of speed and desire.
Of poetry that becomes violent.
Of a screaming America.
Of my freedom to dream.
Of hellish postcards of translucent dream.
Of infinite travel. Returns. Of the exaltation of doing and undoing.
Of war and peace.
Of this poem in the making.
Myself projected into infinity.
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To photograph old and new places. To wander and photographing.
I am writing this short piece with Ms. Lauryn Hill singing for me in the next room.
I feel to present the not compromising urbanity, the essence of the streets…those streets where I love to go.
My attitude is all fire.
I create evidence of my life through photography.
It is night, in the barrio.
The sound of gunfire reverberates behind my shoulders. Soon followed by police sirens.
I decided to use the Fujifilm X20. Sometimes I still use it. Even though I gave it to my wife. The buildings of the modules are all the same.
This is where I live. My barrio. My bronx. The windows with the lights on are a cry of communication.
It is nothing but capturing the essence. I lift the camera and shoot…
PEECHO PUBLISHED THIS INTERVIEW TO ME
We’re happy to introduce Italian-born, Mexican-based photographer Alex Coghe, whose project HARI is currently available for print via Peecho’s global print fulfillment service.
YESTERDAY I WAS AT THE BIKE WORKSHOP IN PROGRESO NACIONAL AND I MADE 2 PORTRAITS
The mechanic is the man on the right. I needed the modification of my MTB: by removing the gearbox the bike gains in lightness. Here in the city there are not go up and in any case I prefer a single speed bicycle. I do the rest pedaling. The mechanic is reliable, honest and cheap: I am happy to have found him. I recommend you if you live in the north side of Mexico City.
El mecánico es el hombre de la derecha. Necesitaba la modificación de mi MTB: al quitar la caja de cambios, la bicicleta gana en ligereza. Aquí en la ciudad no hay muchas subidas y en cualquier caso prefiero una bicicleta de una sola velocidad. Yo hago el resto pedaleando. El mecánico es confiable, honesto y barato: estoy feliz de haberlo encontrado. Se los recomiendo si viven en el lado norte de la Ciudad de México.
IT WAS FOR A LONG TIME THAT I WANTED TO PROPOSE AN ARTICLE SUCH. BUT I NEEDED TO TAKE PHOTOS ABOUT THIS.
So yesterday I gave myself an assignment and I made some photos in order to write this article.
The series is made with the purpose to show some elements which have become a distinctive feature of my street research.Those familiar with my work will recognize immediately them.
And a premise is a must here: with the publication of AMERICANA, the related exhibition, and the photographs I keep to make and sharing through my instagram and facebook I achieved to bring out a soul that was very present in me but that I kept for a long time privately.
And this can itself be taken to suggest that my current view of my approach on the street during this new phase is actually my real one, lasting for two years now and getting to rise questions about the fact that despite my previous achievements, I was not presenting all the influences and visions metabolized and made mine all over these years of existence. Now I have greater awareness, call it maturity if you want. I am making exactly what I want and I am satisfied with the results.
If the growing interest in my photography has increased (I can say this based on the customers who are buying my photos and books) however, my reference is more to something that is intimate. That goes far beyond the mere aspect of economic satisfaction, and it is that exaltation with oneself, to have the clear sensation of finally speaking my language. And I don’t even pretend to be super personal. I believe that influences can emerge at times in an evident way, sometimes less so.
And we arrived finally to this small series proposed for my readers. This selection process might have resulted in a kind of patchwork of situations portrayed, the aesthetics and intent is consistent in my opinion, in order to achieve the goal: to present my Rosetta Stone of my new street photographer approach.
Guys, it is important to share with you: I am a photojournalist and narrative is always a must have to me in my visual research. This therefore combines with my need to present a coherence that allows me to find myself part of the work already done for a series that can lead to a book or a simple photo shoot.
This sought and obtained consistency is significant in itself and to define the aims. If you are familiar with this blog you should know that my approach is focused on the moment, the recognition of a moment and therefore the end of the process is almost when I press the shutter button because I found the photo. No massive editing is made in post processing phase. I use small and compact cameras on the street. And I am a photographer still enjoying to photograph with film cameras, in addition to digital. And I want a consistency to be represented through the two different tools. And I don’t care about the oppositions that can come from this statement. I am not that guy making a debate film vs digital. I am talking about my photography, in this case the only thing I am interested.
It is not easy to really get into my mental process about how I develop my projects. i am perfectly aware of this. And also to write this is a sort a childbirth process, believe me. There are visions coming out from me. And where aesthetics are influenced by what I find on the streets, of course. Some photographers, or I should say many, think that aesthetics is a thing and content another thing, but I believe both are deeply related.
It’s not just about a collection bringing together all of my interesting pictures. My meticulous approach is based a lot on self-analysis and photography for me is a personal fact, where I bleed all the time, structuring my imaginary collection in a certain order that can work, but is not the order you expect.
The evolution of the various strategies I used and I use to organise the space within the frame is evident by looking at my photos all over the years. I always thought that photography is a visual problem-solving matter. And the change appears even more evident if you see what I was photographing in 2011 and how I was photographing it, and…today.
Some of the images in AMERICANA suggest a clear visual palette than I I have investigated and trained for years.
My main interest is to present photos that is clear the aesthetical approach is a guy making snapshots all the time and using an old film point and shoot, just like the ones I still use. My work is a continuous re-enactment of the memory of the use of my first camera: the Fujica MA-1, a plastic cheap point & shoot camera, with the cheapest color rolls. This is because for me that was the most sincere and genuine experience with photography.
I consider the photograph above the best of the series presented here.
First of all because that portion of street in Vallejo give me always stunning moments. And here in my opinion, what is my vision is enhanced with the usual elements in my picture-making, with the poles, a chaotic and at the same time ordered situation, showing a sense of visual rectitude.
The immediacy of this picture is the way that any human subject embodies a singular moment of attention, helped in the reading by the poles.
I obviously set up my camera at that angle because in my mental image of the space framed, where I waited until the elements of the scene appeared into the picture I wanted to make. There is such visual density in the image that is part of my goal all the time when I am trying to solve the visual equation.
When a photographer makes the decision that through photography exposes himself in the revelation of a choice.
And this revelation shows his compositional strategies, and the editing phase will give the shape to the understanding of what constitutes the typical for the photographer.
My, ehm, well OK let’s call in this way, street photography is not about what many expect, but about my understanding a place in that moment. My mindset plays a decisive role in the economy of the photo and therefore what is the result.
I believe that I often photograph what somehow seems mysterious to me. Because in spite of everything, this Mexican life that I didn’t expect to live is still a continuous adventure.
Please note that I am not showing just views of particular scenes, then, and the importance of atmosphere, the visual poetry that only the existence in the everyday can give us, by observing with particular attention and, yes, a certain state of mind. Because through my photographs I want to offer an insight into the social and where the time and place that I present is fundamental.
I think the component of nostalgia is presented through my photos because the approach of recovering a certain memory that never abandons me.
Someone used the word delicacy to describe my photography and I must admit that I like it. In this world today we see too many times the hard, intrusive and screamed attitude and photography is not freed from it.
With this photo we have come to the conclusion of this article. I really hope you enjoyed the ride through my photography approach. For my part I can only say that doing this type of self analysis helps me, so probably I would write these pieces even if I don’t have an audience. Fortunately I have you dear readers and I hope that what I wrote today is useful for someone.
See you next time.
To offer any whatsoever of my wandering. Of the surprise that with child’s eyes chases me with every shot. Of imprecision and delicacy. Of that delicacy derived from serenity.
I realize that those bags on the sidewalk are a reference to the clouds in the sky…I’m not in photography to show how much I know about the rules. Photography is a voice of my life. And it’s literary opportunity.
An urban poetry that becomes a cloak in which to wrap myself in.
L’appuntamento è alla settimana prossima. Vi ricordo che potete seguire il mio canale youtube dove troverete tutte le dirette de SULLA FOTOGRAFIA.
Vi lascio il link alla sezione video di questo sito:
AFTER A SPECIAL EDITION OF THE STREET PHOTOGRAPHER NOTEBOOK…
I was asked by many to propose more issues with many photographers inside. Well, I still think that THE STREET PHOTOGRAPHER NOTEBOOK must pay published photographers, so I can offer a limited space to a maximum of 2 photographers per issue…in order to pay them. But…the issue 65 is going like hot cakes, and this convinced me to launch this new editorial project.
SNAPSHOT! is a new magazine, born as spin off from THE STREET PHOTOGRAPHER NOTEBOOK, but that will operate in total autonomy in order to be a new international showcase for street photographers. I am accepting already submissions, so please read more on the official page, where you will find the termas and conditions: