Sunday, 23 February 2014

The dexterity of perspective

Born into this world inquisitive, it was only natural that Victor Muruet would gravitate to photography.

Marveling at life around him, he sees a perfect photo in every imperfect frame.

Never without a camera by his side, photography is his trademark. It is an expression of his connection with every moment, every object, every person and every opportunity to capture a new perspective.

It’s a remedy for inertia.

A means to see the beauty in everything, including the weird, dark and insignificant.

With the delicate click of a button, he breaks the tunnel vision and sees the world through a different lens.

A lens that invites celebration and gratitude. A lens that welcomes authenticity and integrity.

Hear his words. Take a peak through his lens:

Mexican performance

What does it feel like standing behind the camera?

“It feels like I am a different person. It allows me to get intimate with the subject I am capturing. It’s the key to opening a new door to what is in front of us. A door that we rarely enter during the day-to-day.”

How did you first get introduced to photography?

“Since the age of 11 or 12 years old, I have always been interested in photography. My curiosity was initially sparked by my primary school teacher when I was living in Mexico City. She was very passionate about history and would use black and white photos from the Mexican Revolution (1910 to 1920s) to support her lessons by Victor Casasola, a photographer who remains my favourite still to this day.”

“Also, my parents had a Mamiya camera, which they used to photograph my sister and I when we were growing up. As a kid, I was fascinated by the lens and all the buttons of the camera and the amazing image you could get with it.”

“Someone else that had a big influence on me, if not directly in regards to photography, but the appreciation of art, was my mum. When I was a baby, my mum used to wonder the art museums in Mexico City with me in a pram. She was fascinated by people and had a strong social conscious and found explanation through art.”

“Then as a teenager, I got a point and shoot film camera from my dad and I would go out to photograph anyone and anything. I did my own photographic archives of the history of my suburb and fellow students. I later did a series of shots of indigenous people in northern Mexico in the early 90s and was introduced to street photography around the same time.

“I had aspirations to be a photojournalist, but as life often does, I was taken in a different direction. Photography has remained close to my heart and I find ways to incorporate it into my every day”.

Macro drops

What is it that you are trying to capture? What types of photos do you like to take and why?

“I try to diversify and I am still in the process of trying to master different fields, but I am definitely drawn to three fields for their own reasons. Macro photography is about seeing beyond what is obvious to the naked eye. I love macro shots because they make you realise that an apparently small piece of the world is substantially bigger and much more amazing than we could even imagine. Portraits, while everybody can take a snapshot, take precise skill and patience. To capture a great portrait means to be up close and personal with your subject in order to get the best out of them. It is a matter of trust and emotion. There needs to be a spark that inspires something to happen. Street photography is about how humans interact in the daily context. As a street photographer, you have to be very observant of what's happening around you. You see the world in frames, like a filmmaker. It could take several minutes of contemplation to get to a point where you can predict a scene that is going to last a second. If you see it going past your eyes, it is too late to take the shot. Street photography is an excellent compositional exercise. It has also helped me to gain more confidence as a photographer.”

What photographers/artists inspire you?

“Ironically, most of my inspirations are people with strong connections to Mexico, where I am originally from. Both Tina Modotti, from Italy, as well as Marianna Yampolsky, from America, are people I admire. I also deeply love the work of Victor Casasola as mentioned earlier and that of Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo. It might be my Mexican background, but their work really resonates with me.”

Sydney artists

Do your photos try to share a message? If so, what is the message?

“It depends what type of mood I am in, and that mood then projects into what I do. I try to marry my photo with storytelling. I want to capture emotion and a sense of the place. More recently, I have tried to do series of photos relating to a particular theme or topic to convey a story or message. I think I work best this way. I still haven't got to the point where I can say a whole story in one single shot. The day I do, it will be an incredibly powerful photograph. It takes a lot of skill to do that.”

“I am also interested in conveying a social message. Maybe that's why I draw inspiration from the photographers I admire. I want my photography to be meaningful not only artistically and emotionally, but socially as well.”

What are some of the challenges of photography?

“The technical aspects, at least for me. Unlike a painter, a photographer has to work with what they have in front of them. The elements, light, colours and hues. A painter can eliminate or alter all those aspects at his or her convenience while a photographer has to work with all those to make a decent shot. This is when angles and perspectives come into play. It's not only what you show, but how you show it. Also, what you don't show is as important as what you show. As a photographer, your first instinct is to show as much as you can in a frame, but that can ruin a shot. The challenge is to decide what to leave out to make an ordinary photo an outstanding one.”

Chamula in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

What has been some of the highlights?

“Photography has opened many doors for me. I have met amazing people who otherwise wouldn't have struck a conversation with me. Being behind the camera is really empowering because I can reach out to a lot of people through my work, which is what I find most rewarding.”

What projects are on the brew?

“I am working on a project called 101 strangers where I ask complete strangers if I can take their photo and ask them a few questions about their life; about their story. In conjunction to this, I have been taking photos of people I know on a more personal level am thinking of reconciling the two ideas into one. I would also like to do portraits of elderly people and tell their life story as well as pictures of pregnant women in black and white to capture the full spectrum of life, from before being born to a long-lived life.”

Chapultepec squirrel, Mexico

What has photography taught you?

“That the world and its people are much more than meets the eye. Just walk around, have a different perspective, observe and you'll be amazed… Compositions are all around us. Photography is the language. You just have to learn how to arrange the elements to make sense of this world.

I would love to hear from you now. How has photography opened up your world? What are you trying to capture and why? This applies to all expressive art forms really. Painting, writing, pottery, graphic design, dance, yoga, you name it. Share in the comment box below :)

Perspective in Mexico City 

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