Photography Spotlight: Mauricio A. Rodriguez
Mauricio A. Rodriguez
New York City
When did you first pick up a camera and start taking photos that were beyond family or vacation photos?
Per my parents, they say it was always very clear that me and our cameras, both film and video, had a special relationship. They claimed, I would film and take pictures of my sister and mom, and tell them how to pose, what to do and what to wear. It wasn’t until later, in my late twenties and after series of events including a car accident, I was led to start over. I decided to learn more about art and its history and try to understand what people saw in my images. I went back to school for a second degree, at Parsons, for photography, where I acquired a BFA and knowledge of the art of photography. So I’ve actually done some homework.
What is your favorite subject to shoot?
I want to say that I most definitely like to photograph people, however, having had the training at Parsons, we covered all aspects in photography, so we developed a special eye to photograph anything. I could say though that the most difficult for me is architecture, and that’s where I’ve placed a lot of my energy lately. I wanted to create a special relationship and now it’s paid off since few of my architecture images are being displayed all over Asia, Europe, Harrods in London, U.S, Panama and most recently in Mexico City at the Ralph Lauren Stores. It’s quite an achievement that I’m very proud of.
Where do you get new shoot ideas from?
The images I create are directly related to either a personal experience or someone else’s experience or feelings, therefore the inspirations can go from the most simple to the most complex depending on the story I’m trying to tell. Those stories can be either literal or completely abstract. Inspiration is everywhere. Artists generally create a body of work that ends up being a series of self-portraits, so I believe that despite the inspirations around us, ultimately we convey our inner selves.
With all of the self-professed photographers with digital cameras, how do you continue to hone your skill and your eye to keep what you’re doing special and professional?
Excellent question and beautifully written. The problem with self-professed photographers is that the meaning of art and photography are no longer going together. The value is now determined by the number of followers and ‘likes’ you have. I personally focus on creating a body of work that 1) sells, 2) has meaning & 3) serves a purpose with a clear message that identifies me as an artist. For example, my latest project is based on appropriation, modeled after Richard’s Prince’s aesthetic, with my personal twist of multiple exposure. I’m not only creating a body a work with a strong message, but I’m almost mocking photographers in today’s Insta-era. I definitely don’t shoot the stereotypes, nudes, and I never sleep with my models which is typical of the “photographers” who are without a career. My personal aesthetic of choice, layering or multiple exposure, is not new or unique. I’m not the first nor will I be the last to do it. However, my work has inspired many and I’m pretty sure my name is brought up as a reference when similar work is seen. After all, 8+ years of doing photography are not in vein.
How does social media, specifically Instagram, affect how you get your work to people?
I feel like social media has two sides. The accessibility to technology, phones in particular, and the fascination of feeling validated by numbers, has completely diminished the value of art and photography. There are many people with an interesting eye and ideas. However, Instagram has become more about feeling popular and feeling validated by numbers and strangers. Nina Garcia, editor at Marie Claire, once told me that though there are great “artists” showcasing on Instagram, is all about the editing when it comes to hiring talent. For me, Instagram is like Vera Wang for K-mart. It’s an excellent platform & brand but it’s for the rest of population that can’t afford the real deal. There is no doubt that it’s great for exposure and free advertising but I highly doubt that many of these so called “photographers” can refer to Newton, Cartier Bresson or any of the true pioneers of photography. But if you have the looks, the body and your slogan happens to be “sex sells,” I’m sure Instagram will fill your ego perfectly. Sadly, the industry does rely on these numbers because they want to reach the common denominator. They want to use people that are relatable and that can create a higher traffic to their brand. Quantity over quality.
Describe the style of your photography in five words.
Mind-triggering, accelerating, voyeuristic, seductive & tortuous.
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