Loscar Numael - USA
1. Loscar, on you website you say: “Photography is at the heart of who I am.” This tells something about the meaning of photography for your life. How did you find your way to your passion?
I think that in essence it is because my photography is primarily done for myself. I am the person I am trying to please the most and being such a personal endeavor I feel i put a little bit about myself out there with my photography.
This journey started “out of necessity”. Back in my college years I was required to obtain an SLR type camera to document the progress of my work. Having just recently moved from home (Puerto Rico) and being very homesick every time I went over to visit I will bring the camera with me just to document what I saw, no agenda just to have some “snapshots” for me and show my friends back at school. From there it really took off I was hooked into photography.
There have been phases to my photography but the where I am now is where I feel the most comfortable and passionate about since it really suits me.
2. You`ve been born and raised in Puerto Rico. Please tell us something about the influence of your home country on your work.
As I mentioned above Puerto Rico was the catalyst to my photography love affair. The colors, the culture and the island itself have influenced me on every level; even my color palette is influence by Home. Now days my approach has changed in the way I present my work but my love for my island is still there I try to get away from that “quintessential Caribbean photo” without lessening what makes Puerto Rico “Puerto Rico”.
3. Photographers often talk about the “experience”. How important is the connection to the place you photograph for yourself? Can you describe your feelings when you`re able to build this connection?
I am notorious for going to the same places over and over. If I feel I haven’t made a connection or I still think the place has more to offer I’ll visit it as many times as needed. The land changes and our mind’s eye changes too, we also learn to fine tune our vision.
I remember once reading and interview of Michael Kenna were he describes it as visiting an old friend and having a chat with him, you always learn something new about that person during each visit. I believe the same happens when you return to the same places over and over until you find that connection or develop that ‘friendship’ and get past the surface of what is in front of you, that’s when creativity really takes off.
4. You`ve been inspired by the work of several fine art photographers and painters. Who has been your biggest inspiration? Why?
Hmmm that one is a hard one there are so many photographers that have inspired me; Michael Kenna, Rohan Rilley, Nobuyuki Kobayashi, Toshio Shibata among others, but if I had to pick one it has to be Fine Art Photographer Michael Levin. Not only I love his work, which I find truly inspiring but it has to be mostly because of what I have learned from him. I met Michael during a workshop he imparted in Toronto back in 2012 and it was eye-opening to say the least, in those two days I learned so much and it completely gave a “180 ̊ turn” to my photography.
During one of his talks he said; “To me a photograph can be so much more than the actual representation of a scene.” and then something clicked. It was like having a set of blinders taken off. From there I started to see the all the possibilities available in an image.
Saying all this I also have to add Marc Adamus, he was the first person who gave a sincere critique and taught me how to approach and “see” a scene. At the end my work has been greatly influenced by two photographers which styles can’t be further apart from each other but have a sense of synergy at the same time.
5. Your portfolio shows a stunning collection of lush color photographs and sharply observed black-and-white long exposure scenes. When did you realize that this approach is the best possible way to express your artistic side?
Being honest I think the approach that I have taken is very personal. At the end of the day I want my work to look good on a wall, plain and simple; but this is greatly influence by my personal aesthetics. As much as I love to look at the grand landscape images I wouldn’t hang one on my wall, it doesn’t fit my style. I like the simple, minimalist and elegant approach that long exposures or minimalism in photography provide.
6. You said: “I love the purity in landscape photography. No matter all the trouble and limitations in the world, there remains an extraordinary grace in the environment. We’re all benefitted if we pay such places closer attention.” Do you think that your way of photographic thinking could also be helpful for controlling the challenges of modern life? To find something special in the middle of chaos?
I really do, it has kind of therapeutic effect on me. I do love finding those “mundane” things that a lot of people take for granted and mold them into my own vision. When I approach a scene I think I spend more time trying to exclude elements so I can isolate my subjects better than anything else, to me is very relaxing. On the same token working with long exposures really limits my ‘productivity’ in the sense of how many images I can get in an outing since I only have the chance to get 2-3 shots tops before the light is gone but somehow I really enjoy the process more than the end result. Now if I am able to transmit this to an audience then it is a win-win for me.
7. You traveled a lot of places. Do you have a favorite place on earth? Why?
Well I will have to say Puerto Rico but I am a little bit biased ;-) . Putting PR aside it has to be Japan. I have often said that even if I don’t take a single photo during my trip it wouldn’t have been a wasted one. I am utterly in love with the country, the people, food, customs, culture and everything else. Also the Japanese Aesthetics fits so well with the minimalist style of photography that I strive for that it makes me feel that I can’t get enough of my time there. Japan has so much beauty that no matter which is your style of photography there will always be something for you there. This has been proven by all the photographers that have gone to Japan before me and have been a tremendous source of inspiration.
Lately I have been researching native Japanese photographers and it was very revealing how the have their own style compared to what we are use to in the western world. Very akin with the differences we can see in photographers from the UK and the USA.
8. How are you able to integrate your photographic passion into your “usual” life? When are you able to find the best possible access to your inner creative modus? Have there been times when you struggled thinking creative?
Sometime I feel that photography can be a 24/7 obsession and I am always trying to do something related to my photography even when i cant be out there making images. Fortunately my job gives me a great amount of flexibility that I cant give my photography the attention that I like to. I do go thru those creative slumps every now an then. What I do with those “episodes” is that I invest it trying to learn something related to photography. For example I barely did any photography during the fall season but I spent quite a bit of time learning how to print some past work in Japanese washi paper which at the end made me realize how to approach my work in a different way.
The way I see it you have to “reboot” yourself every now and then in order to grow and get past the plateau phase of our development. So I always “try to try” new things not directly related to my photography but close enough to it in order to recharge those “creative batteries”.
9. Is there a favorite picture inside your portfolio? Why?
I am not sure, I purposely left this question for the very end. I went to my portfolio a couple of times but I really couldn’t put my finger on one. I guess the portfolio for the article has a selection of my favorites. But I can tell you that I have a favorite lens, it is my 50mm :-D .
10. Final Question: This project is called "Vision and life". What do the terms "vision" and "life" mean for you, Loscar?
To me vision is an extension of who we are. The way we see things is molded by our life experiences in a sense.
Vision is how we perceive life and life is what that vision has taught us. I am true believer that our art shows a little bit of who we truly are even if we cant see it ourselves, our vision represents our life.
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