Recently we got a submission from a young man named Marcelo Yáñez. Marcelo actually lives in the same city as me (Chris), but do to schedules and travel we have yet to meet up. I really hope that changes soon. Despite his young age, Marcelo has an amazing body of work and we are happy he decided to share his “stranger” project with us. I asked Marcelo to tell us about the project and here is what he had to say.
I switch between cameras: SX70 Model 1, SX70 Sonar, and SLR680, but the SX70 Sonar was my first and still my favorite. I bought it in 2007 when Polaroid was dying. I shot a couple packs of 600 with it, but once those were finished, I didn’t seek out any more. I followed Impossible’s early film, but didn’t really start shooting actively until the 09/11 batch of CP. All the B&W in my profile was shot with PX100 UV+ — even the latest stuff. Great film! The color stuff for my portraits is 100% Color Protection as it’s an endeavor I started recently. Most pictures have technical details in the description.
The project was just something I started randomly on one of my trips to NYC. My brother just finished up college in NYC, but while he was in school I went frequently and stayed with him. On the last day of my spring break trip (Early March 2013), I decided to shoot people on the streets of SoHo. The people walking intrigued me and they were likewise intrigued by my camera so I started asking strangers for their pictures. I had tried something similar in the summer of 2012 while I was doing a college program in NY for high schoolers, but people always refused a picture from my RF — I’m guessing they were intimidated. Since that trip in March, I’ve had two other trips to the city, and I’ve done the same thing. The project is all in good fun. Most of the people I photograph, I end up networking with them online. For example, Christopher Momenee (I have a portrait of him) I talk to regularly on Facebook. We met at a coffee shop, and he started asking me about my Polaroid cameras. The cameras are wonderful conversation pieces, and I love taking advantage of those characteristics. I think the end all goal of the project is to document some of the characters that inhabit the great city of New York — while hopefully connecting with some along the way.
For the two years I’ve shot Polaroid, I’ve always noticed people react differently to the camera, acting more friendly to the familiar square frame. I once feared approaching strangers with my Leica or Hasselblad, and likewise, they feared me, but when approached with a Polaroid a smile creeps on their face, and you ussualy end up having a long conversation with the subject about the history of The Impossible Project, the current company making film. This connection and kindness projects onto the frame. No other camera gives this effect…
Also, I would like to note that for all my portraits, I ask for consent. I think people on the street, while in a public area, deserve respect from the photographer. If they don’t want to be photographed, then they shouldn’t.
You can find more work from Marcelo on his Flickr page. And stay tuned for an upcoming Artist Spotlight from him.
Now, on to some great street Portraits! Thanks again for submitting Marcelo.