Dreaming Of Urban Oasis
Perhaps you're familiar with "TheLittleRooster", perhaps not. I first came into contact with Marcela, whom I've always called simply, "Rooster" on the POE forum a couple of years ago. She's a very nice, talented and well liked person, whom I'm happy to call one of my friends here on Etsy. I hadn't been contact with Marcela for some time, then recently I had a chance to talk with her; I'd like to share our conversation with you now.
Steve: The first thing that I usually want to know about a photographer whose work I admire is, “Where is this person coming from?” So Marcela, my first question to you is really a statement built around a set of questions. Tell us a bit about yourself; where do you come from? What’s your family like? What do you do when you’re not creating images? Who is Marcela?
Marcela: My name is Marcela Gallo and I’m 24, almost 25 years old. I am from Peru and I grew up here and went to school here. For my college years, I went to Austin, Texas, which I now call my second home, as I spent 6 and ½ years there and also became an American citizen. My college degree is Urban Studies; at first I planned on doing that as a Bachelor and then doing Architecture as a Master. But of course, you know what happens when you make plans… life mixes things around for you. After school, I worked for an architect for almost two years and began to discover more things about myself, like how much I enjoyed photography, to the point I didn’t want it to be only a hobby.
Currently, I’m back in Peru seeing what job opportunities there are, building connections with different
people (it’s all about connections here), planning on doing a short photography career (1 year) and hoping to discover what I’m meant to do in this world.
The Railroad Tracks Series
My family is peculiar, I have two younger brothers, Cesar David, who’s 23 and David Cesar, who’s 22. I’m 24. My dad’s name is also Cesar David, so was my grandfather (of course we only call them by their first name). My dad is a retired Air Force General from Peru, so all our lives we’ve had a pretty strict education, especially me because I’m the oldest and the girl, haha. My mom stopped working in order to raise us, and she’s a wonderful person whom I’m very close with. My mom and brothers are still in Austin. My dad goes back and forth. I miss them very much. Oh, by the way, my mom’s name is Marcela Liliana… just like me. I wonder what they would have named my sister if I had had one… any guesses?
And just to answer your question on ‘who is Marcela’ I’m an adventurous person who loves to laugh and meet people of all ages, because I think one can learn a little bit from everybody. You’ll most likely always see me smiling, although I do acknowledge that I have an Aries little mood that can come out if I sense injustice, lies, etc. I love animals very much; sometimes I think Veterinary Medicine would have been another one of my passions. The list of things I can’t get enough of in this life is endless… but I’ll put a few: music, travel, nature, cultures, art, film, cities, etc. Lastly, things I always thank God for: my family, my friends, my home, my health, my opportunities, and good people in this world.
S: What was it that drew you to photography? When and where did you get your start? Have you had formal training or are you self taught?
M: At first, I thought my interest in photography arose during the last 4 years, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that photography has fascinated me since I was a young girl. I remember my first camera was a pink Barbie camera, one of those flat elongated ones with the flash on the side. I also remember being very organized with my negatives, and labeling them all so I could later go back and print the pictures I wanted. I also loved to fill picture albums and write the captions under each photo. Somehow, in small ways, a future passion of mine was evolving. It was when I went to Texas, that I became more enthusiastic about it.
During our family trips to South Padre Island, I would ask my mom for her camera all the time and take pictures of the sunset, seagulls, boats, etc. Around the same time, I bought a small album in which I was going to place what I thought were my best pictures. The pictures from that particular album were all from a Canon EOS film camera, which I later declared mine, since my parents had a new digital Canon camera (the South Padre one). I think it was the following Christmas, that they bought a Nikon CoolPix for me, my first digital camera. And from then, I just became more and more fascinated.
So far, I haven’t had formal training. I’ve have learned what I know so far thanks to the internet and also to some tips a friend of mine gave me. I do think formal training can help perfect the knowledge that I have and also teach me to use photography in several interesting ways.
S: It really sounds like you were quite the budding photographer, just trying to break out of your chrysalis!
Do you ever get that "itch" to shoot something, and what do you do to scratch that "itch"?
M: Yes, of course, I think that “itch” is part of what makes one realize how much they like photography. That itch can come at anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, I don’t always have my camera with me because in Lima one has to be more careful with it depending on the area. But yes, I can get that itch by noticing a person’s unique expression, or a certain way the light is hitting a surface, or when I see that a group of elements look poetic put together. Many times I do the little ‘finger frame’ and say, “I wish I had my camera to snap this moment.” If I do happen to be carrying my camera, I take it out immediately, always. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to take an ordinary object that people may ignore daily and create a picture where this object obtains a new interesting appearance thanks to the photo composition, colors, etc.
S: What draws your eye; what inspires you? Do you do a lot of preparation for your shoots, or do you rely on serendipity and happenstance?
M: I think serendipity and happenstance are what define most of my photos. If I take my camera somewhere, I don’t usually go with a plan in mind. At most, I choose a certain place or spot, in which I want to take pictures, but I always find there are lots of surprises and I end up taking more photos than I'd thought I would. A particular subject I like is ‘clouds,’ I love how different they can be and the variety of color combinations you can get depending on the sky. It’s something I miss terribly from Texas. Another thing that draws my eye is a city, especially old ones full of history and traditions; when I went to Austria I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
The Mysterious Door
When it comes to inspiration, I feel it differently all the time. It can be a moment in time, or the ‘itch’ we talked about. It’s a rush of inspiration that I feel instantly when something catches my attention. Other times, it can be someone else’s work, especially the kind you see in photography competitions, which broadens one’s photography ambitions.
S: What photographer(s) do you admire most and how have they influenced what you do?
M: Wow what a tough question. You know, there are so many talented photographers that it’s very hard for me to say “this person is my favorite,” especially because each one has a different style and it’s so unique sometimes, that you can’t compare two. What I’m going to do is give you the names of some photographers I’ve found over the last years, and whose work I really admire. The way they usually influence me is by deepening my urge to learn more and to experiment differently with a particular subject. Let me start with the oldest one, Philippe Halsman. I love his surreal images and the way he captured a person’s character in a photo.
Carmen Gonzales has a very soft and romantic style (www.carmengonzalez.org/); there’s something captivating in every picture.
Jeff Friesen’s natural landscapes are amazing, as well as the rest of his work (www.jeff-friesen.com/Portfolios.html).
Amanda Jones has a job that maybe one day I’d love to have; she photographs pets and other animals and the photos are fun and unique (www.amandajones.com/go.php?page=home).
Victor Eredel has a little bit of everything (www.behance.net/Eredel); I can’t decide which of his albums I like best.
And Steve McCurry’s portraits are breathtaking. Each one speaks to you so profoundly. Two links for him:
Under The Congress Bridge
Here are a few posts that I recommend:
Becoming a Photographer:
A familiar question:
Inspiration and Intuition
So Steve, there you have, some of my favorites :) I’m sure I’ll continue to find more. It’s impressive.
S: So, having graduated from the pink Barbie camera, to the Canon EOS film camera, to the Nikon CoolPix, what's in your camera bag these days?
M: My camera bag is still somewhat simple, but as soon as I save enough, I’m buying more gadgets and I plan on collecting old cameras as well! I still have my EOS film camera and my Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot. Then I have a Canon 30D, a 50mm Canon lens, and an 18-55mm Canon zoom lens. I’d really like to get a wide angle lens, possibly the 10-22mm, a macro lens, and a telephoto one; that aside of another Canon Camera :) heheBut for now, I can’t complain. Like I’ve heard others say… a photograph doesn’t depend on the equipment, but on the photographer and his/her eyes, right Steve?
S: I believe you're absolutely correct. In my estimation, the equipment is but a tool, an extension if you
will, of the photographer and her/his vision and imagination. Additional equipment is nice though, and not only can it be fun to play with but can help expand the photographer's technical capacities.
So, Marcela, what does the future hold for you and photography? Where are you taking it? Where is it taking you?
M: It’s still a bit uncertain. I would love to be able to combine the degree I already have (Urban Studies) and Photography. I saw that in London, they offer a Masters in Photography and Urban Cultures. When I read that, I immediately thought it was a Masters made for me. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it to London eventually. For now, I plan on doing a ‘Photography Short Career’ here in Lima; it lasts one year. I have so much to learn and I think that is a good start. There is still something important for me to figure out: which photography path is best for me. Is it Urban Photography? Perhaps Pets? Or maybe I can take more than one :)
One of my “dreams,” to put it that way, is to travel around Peru and compile a book with the best photos, maybe even make journals, bookmarks, cards, etc. My ideas overwhelm me sometimes, but I’m hoping I’ll find my answers in the course of experiences yet to come. All I know is photography will always be part of who I am.
S: Marcela, thank you so much for taking this time to talk with me, I've enjoyed it very much and it's so cool getting to know more about you! I wish you much success going forward!
M: It was a pleasure. And thank you for taking the time to dig a little into POE’s lives. Your interviews
allow us to answer ourselves questions we hadn’t had the chance to write down. Thanks again, Steve.
Texas Capitol Dome
"Wandering Eye" is also "PhotoGrunt" and Steve Raley, a photographic documentarian from Seattle,
. He captures images wherever he goes, and he frequently even uses a camera. His work can be seen on his website, blog and his Etsy shop. Washington