A collection of thoughts, poems, & much more
UPDATE ON skin series 11/19:
After going back to the drawing board and hashing out some kinks with what I was going to do for the project, I've been able to secure a better understanding of the direction I'm going in. I still have not shot other people but these next few weeks I am crunching in as many people as possible and going for whatever I can. On the side, I actually have shot a few guys doing their thing that somewhat relates to this but it's all mostly studio work and I'm not sure how much it fits within the conceptual take on 'skin'. It could be something to look at, but still not quite sure. Some examples of those photos are below:
I have finalized the last few people for my project and start shooting the remaining subjects in the next few weeks. It's tough shooting with people because of scheduling and finding time that is suitable and comfortable for everyone's time, and that's the hard part. The project will showcase as many people as I can get done, but I do not think this is a project that is solidly "finished" by the end of the semester. This is long-term, to collect many rather than few. I still plan on using some type of print-book to show the images with accompanying text or graphics. With the added words/descriptors, it will help to form curious thoughts about the theme of the full project.
MORE INSPO for skin (below)
INSPIRATION for skin (below)

Dante Gonzalez-Abreu is a senior theatre major who just finished a big role in Shakespeare On the Bluff this summer and is now performing in the upcoming play about Arturo UI. We took time out of his busy schedule to go out for a day to the industrial area of Culver City as well as the DTLA fashion district area. Throughout our time we discovered new spots and talked about certain topics on modeling, acting, the entertainment industry, and more. Coming from Miami, Florida, he wants to expand his portfolio out here in Los Angeles and climb the ladder to achieve great success whether that be on or off stage.

The video I watched was called "NN11589742" and there was no indication of creators for the short clip. The video just shows a few swings blowing in the wind as a dog in the background gets up to scratch itself and lays down in the sun. There are birds chirping and cars passing off-screen and very little movement in the video, really showing that it can be a photo since the movement was little to none. There's something fond going on in the video, as it reminded me of home and just capturing a moment in time that is genuine and real or seems to be at least. It felt like I was standing there recording it myself because of how much it has this point-of-view perspective to it.
The main project I plan on pursuing is called 'skin'. The main idea is photographing college students and showing the comfort they feel in themselves throughout their time in school where they deal with a lot of pressures. This project aims to tackle self-pressure, perception, awareness, and love. I ended up going with this project because it is a process for many in college including myself to be comfortable with who you are, and what that means on the outside apart from the inside. Our skin/body is a vessel we present, and that's something that makes me very interested to learn about in terms of how others see it as well. I think documenting the people in college right now with this topic leans heavily on how we see the world currently and goes in line with the thought that we may not really even be paying attention to what we could be doing to our bodies because we're so stacked or fill our time with other things. The reason this is also going to be so personal is because I plan on choosing some of my college friends that are comfortable enough to go that deep and share things they usually don't, but trusting that I can tell what they want me to tell. The documentary will show them in possible places where they feel comfort with themselves, and other places where they might not. I think getting a sense of setting with their skin helps to see the full picture of what I want to capture. I would probably do this project on digital and in color, but it's still up for debate. It's a very accessible project, which is why I ended up going with this one.

sound portrait

(What are your interests outside of photography? What are you passionate about, what do you read about or think about aside from your photographic practice?)
Some of my interests outside of photography include writing short stories and poetry, walking around places in the city, playing basketball, window shopping or finding vintage clothes, modeling, and reading. I'm passionate about films, and love to read any fiction novels that can take me out of reality for a bit. Thinking about certain things differs day-to-day: I think a lot about the past, as well as how the present is going, and what I want the future to be.
(Why are you interested in it, and what particular aspects of it most interest you? Is it how it looks, the way it makes you feel, or does something about it intellectually, philosophically, politically, spiritually, or otherwise resonate with you?)
I think I'm interested in all of it because most of the things are very visual and I just happen to be a very visual person in relation to what I gravitate towards. There's also a sense of nostalgia that carries with it, and how I was raised which also contributes to that.
(Which social issues interests you based on the countries in Africa we’re about to visit? Landscape, portrait, or still life?)
Portraiture mainly because you can tell a lot about a community or society by the many features on someone's face.
(How might you merge your interests outside of photography with the type of image making that most interests you? What would you like to study or communicate photographically, and what methods might you use to do it?)
I want photography to be something that says more about the message and concept as a full series rather than it having too much of a direct message. I like the idea of having a series being very up in the air and mysterious to a degree, mixing that fantasy aspect of being a young kid figuring out life as you grow up. Things need to be whimsical but in-depth, with a philosophical question brewing from it.
- Invading Your Space
- Location Specific series like Catalina
- skin, a concept series
- concert/music w/ backstage life
- Becoming the Future
- streets, always walking
- the nice but also grimy side of college parties
- to be, and utterly feel, alone
- Neon in the city (on & off)
Blog Entry #1:
This project and study of anonymous people by Matteo Daidone is very fascinating in many ways to me. The use of shadows in this series is perplexing and off-putting yet it pulls the viewer in to keep staring and figuring out what's next to the shadowed. The angles that the shadows give off on these unfamiliar faces holds true to the statement in the article on LensCulture where it says that to see these emotions is real to our lives and who we are near each day. In this society, people tend to not show these emotions off but we see it outside of the public so to capture it on the streets is wholesome and alive.
I like this also because of the ideas I have for my projects I tend on creating. I like things with mystery and that require more than just a glance over. I enjoy it when there's something more to an image or series that has an overall theme and message, and that's what I envision with my series. This 'If' series I think captures that well: the complexities of the human race, and how we play into this world we created ourselves.
We each have stories to tell, something of the past and something that keeps carrying us to the future. Daidone realized this through the people that are captured in his series, and it helps me to visualize how I want to go about some of the ideas I have that involve other people in it. I am not super skilled in taking photographs with people but the more I do it, the more ideas I have in trying to experiment with the subject of others.
There's also a sense of location in Daidone's work that I like a lot too. He tries to represent the Japanese society in a way that is usually not captured or seen. With the added sense of mystery, Daidone creates this new world that is now being shown to many across the globe who can view the series. This helps to even start showing that specific society that it's okay to not be so set on how life used to be in their comfort state but to step outside that zone and create something new. This is another addition in the reasons why I like this series and why it relates to my ideas for what I want to create.

credit: Matteo Daidone, LensCulture

Another series and project I found extremely enticing and visually stunning was this one below titled 'It's Called Ffasiwn' by Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James. The surreal worlds that are created within this series is beautiful in so many ways: color, design, clothing, etc. When I immediately saw the image below for the first time I verbally said 'wow'. The pop of purple and lavender across the beige buildings makes your eye go straight to the middle of the photograph where the subject is. The title 'Summer Street Party' is almost haunting in a way too because usually parties are more than a few people, yet this table is only gathered by a small group of young children.
There's almost something nostalgic about it: the young life of being outside of the house and creating this make-believe world with the friends you made around the neighborhood. I look at the many pictures in this series and feel that each one is a different realm of the imagination when you're younger. The nature of it being calm and pulled away, as to not disturb the dreamlike state of what's happening. You're never too close, and if you are it's because there's a reason for it.
The outfits are obviously the highlight of the entire series though. Each photograph has this monochromatic style of either matching the colors to something else in frame or completely going against it by popping the color out vividly. I love it when colors can have their own sense of subjectivity in photographs because a single color can tell a lot about the emotion of the image and what it's trying to say.
This series is a very big inspiration to me for the ideas I want to create. I usually try to pull off the same concept of having a single color or colors be the focal point while adding to that. The fashion in this helps me to see clothes in a new way too, which helps for a clothing idea I would like to do at some point.

credit: Summer Street Party, Merthyr Vale, 2018. © Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James (LensCulture)

Entry #8 (Poem 3)
I Am Happy, Alone (Italian Version)

sono felice, da sola
la brezza lo sa anche
le incantevoli medle non sono mai ancora
tuttavia c'è una crepa sotto la mia suola
e che non cambia mai

sono felice, da sola
la casa rimane in silenzio
sempre presenti nel lontano
ma ci sarà un giorno che verrà
e dovrò andare avanti

sono felice, da sola
le onde mi dicono ogni volta che toccano le dita dei piedi
non importa l'ora, non importa il tempo
ma c'è un tempo che dovrò partire
e almeno lo sapevo

Sono rimasto felice per il momento.
Entry #7 (Short Story)
chanted down the hall as my sister closed her bedroom door shut. I hated night time. This house has been around for decades, and the noisy walls and creaky floorboards signaled that. Moving in to this deserted neighborhood already felt uncomfortable, and knowing that this house has been empty for years didn't make me feel any better either. Mom just needed a place near a drug store, so she could stock up. The drug store was just outside the neighborhood, down the street. She was already there, getting what she could before they close. My sister was already going to sleep, but i haven't slept in a couple days. It's tough moving in to a new house and not worry about what'll happen. I wanted to at least wait until Mom came home before I at least tried to attempt at closing my eyes for a bit.

[2:25 a m]
I stared at my clock. Time moves slow, but fast. Still, Mom wasn't home. I don't tend to worry as much, because Mom stays out to take her drugs and also hang out with other "friends" or at least, that's what she calls them. 
I was about to do some drawing at my desk to keep me occupied, but 
I heard something crash downstairs.
I couldn't tell if it was Mom or not. 
Mom usually is good about not breaking things.
I was nervous.
My heart was pounding.
I don't like to leave my room. Whether it's Mom or not, leaving my room leaves me vulnerable.
to anything.
I keep my attention towards trying to hear any other signals.
I keep hearing thuds, shuffling.
It went on for awhile. 

then I hear the front door open.
and that's when I knew, that was Mom.
& someone else was here in the house, downstairs with her.
"MOM!" I screamed as I ran down the stairs.
I could hear my sister's door opening wide open to see what's happening but i rushed down to help protect Mom.
As i reached the living room, i'm stuck in freeze frame.
The masked guy has Mom on the floor,
holding her down with his foot.
My sister got downstairs, and froze right with me.
"We don't know you, we can't see you so just let her go and we won't say anything."
My sister trembled with the words that came out of her mouth.
The masked figure held an axe in his left hand.
He just stared at us.
I got more and more uncomfortable and scared with every second passing.
And with a full swing, he stuck the axe in our mother's back.
The blood spewed out, flying across the living room and splattering against the walls, furniture, and our clothes.
A screech of pain from Mom could've been heard from all the way down to the drug store, because it was the loudest cry of pain i've ever heard.
And the Axe Man didn't stop. He kept going.
and going.
and each time we heard the bones in her back cracking.
i couldn't even tell who she was anymore.
and i was in shock.
i was in the corner, horrified at what i was witnessing.
my sister ran upstairs, screaming.
The Axe Man stopped finally.
Then he looks at me.
and slowly walks towards me, with the blood of my Mom on the axe.
just before he got close enough, I see a bullet fly into his shoulder.
my sister stood near the stairs, with Mom's gun she kept in her bedroom just in case.
I totally forgot about it when I ran down.
The Axe Man stumbled back, leaning against the wall.
"GET UP!" my sister yelled at me.
I realized what was finally happening, and shuffle up and go to my sister.
We open the front door, and get ready to run off.

We should've known.

This was it.

The Axe Man had a friend.

And he was there, standing on the porch. 
Waiting, just in case.
The fear rushed through me, as I realized what was about to happen to us.

This was the day The Axe Man made a name for himself. 

And who would've known,

right before he slaughtered my sister and cut her up,

he would've taken off his mask,

and reveal his face.

And who could've guessed,

of all people to murder my family and I,

it would've been Dad.

I was crying, pleading.

Begging and wondering why he would do this.

And he gave me a sinister grin, before ramming the Axe down on me. 
Entry #6
sometimes it's okay to be alone. to be by yourself. you can always have alone time and it's much needed. you need that peace and quiet. you need those thoughts. to be yourself for a bit and breathe and just think. and it feels good. 
there's so many faces around you. so many attitudes, lifestyles, cultures, etc. that invade our space. and it gets overwhelming. I can definitely say that for sure. you just need that moment of silence. a moment of stillness. maybe it actually isn't silent, but you are. and you may not be saying anything or making sound, but you're still speaking. and it doesn't have to be external either.
Entry #5
it's weird because we are alive in the now but who can tell us we're not? are we actually though? are we dreaming? how do we know that the parallel us are feeling the exact same way? and if we're the same then why can't we switch? how does each personal soul differentiate a different life outcome? what's the meaning? f the "oh to just see how this life would work" no that's dumb. if we're parallels it'd be the same thing every day for each one. parallel lines run straight across one another. they don't cross. they don't go different ways. it's just, straight. all of this isn't some game where you have a different outcome each time. but who's to say it isn't? I can assume it isn't but how do I know the unknown? and how can anybody? when we dream and have those lucid dreams, are we connecting with our other lives? do we see things that were not living? what's the point? you can ramble for centuries on theories of what's it all mean but that's just the concept of it. to not know and even if you can grasp a certain idea it's just an idea and that's all it ever will be. and you can never say you'll experience it because you'll never know because it hasn't happened nor will you know if it'll ever happen. and that's the way things are. or so we think.
Entry #4 (Poem 2)
the lights
two groves
I'm dying
my heart can't the handle pain
my heart is breaking again
green, red, blue, you
two, one, zero, who
taken aback now
laying in the grass out-
-side with the shiny stars shining
shooting skies filled my mind
I wish you were here tonight
Entry #3 (Poem 1)
walking to the front deck of the ship
tell me if I'm in the right place
cause I think I am 
the stars are shining and it's amazing
it's so silent and I'm craving some attention
but silence is my friend it's been there since the beginning
and so I just stand there and watch the sky
till I see this girl all dressed in white
she showed up out of nowhere
then into sight
and I couldn't think how it could be a better night
but it happened
and it was
I took the move and we laughed and danced the night away
we were two hooligans free in a world with all colors without gray
and damn it was colorful
she could see it in my eyes
all the colors of the rainbow
even when the conversation got deep
it was beautiful
I couldn't stop listening to her voice
when she said "you talk" I said no I'm good 
the voice coming from you is what I want to hear
cause she gave me the chills
she gave me the vibes
this is it, the moment I've been waiting for
the moment I find the girl swoop me and keep me till the day I die
and it played out so well
it was almost too good to believe 
because that's why when she walked outside
I stared at her and waited for something to happen
but she walked off
and now I'm stuck here 
with silence, my friend & my fear.
(my imagination gets the best of me
it's the death of me)
Entry #2
the unknown is truly not known.
explaining to yourself you have the power to do exactly what you want is not the limit.
nor is there actually a real "limit". we make limits in our heads because we cannot comprehend the thought of going so far to achieve it all and more. but that's life isn't it? aren't we trying to achieve it all? or is it just the thought of achieving it which keeps us living? do we keep moving forward looking at each dream as something we can reach but will never reach? why does it have to be that way? 
questions are so small. they don't define a statement made. they don't help. they only give. they give the responder a chance to give an answer from which cannot be true or wrong because the question can be anything.
let the mind and soul take over.
let the thoughts take your reality into a state of inception. see what you can't see. it's there and you can see it. but you can't. and that's the whole thing with society. society is so f***ed up because they shut their eyes when they're blinking. they close it all out and they react to the smallest things and it's a cycle that it's all conformed to and how can this generation or later get a grip if everyone's rotating around their phones? why can't that one person look up in the group and see what needs to be seen. change society. change mindsets. change it all. 
see the art. see beauty. see how the reflection off a face looks. it changes you. 

"be somebody."

Entry #1
Defining myself is never easy. nor is it actually hard to be honest. I don't see myself being defined in any real sort of way. Aren't we all defined by something by someone? Aren't we all seen a certain way in the eyes of each human being? If I was shy to you I wouldn't be to my best friend would I? If I was artistic but can't draw that doesn't make me less artistic? I am everything when I am nothing. I can be it all, really. I grew up an only child. I grew up with separate parents. I grew up living with my grandparents. It was a struggle not having anyone there for me like other siblings do. My imagination was my sibling. my friend. my safety. I grew up with so many ideas and dreams and alternate realities. It was all in this little head of a 7 year old who wanted to do something with his life. He was scared all the time. Always scared. And was it because of the pop-up videos on YouTube or the fact that his parents were always working and he had no sort of assurance of what was to come? the feeling of not knowing what was happening half the time? being alone growing up is scary. and maybe that's why. maybe that's why I always ache when I have this feeling of loneliness. and it sucks cause people would use that against me when they had no idea. they didn't know my childhood like I did. but I keep moving. I keep living. I have ups. I have downs. but that's me. Joseph C. Rodriguez. The lost boy who found his passion Junior Year of high school and knew from then on that his life was dedicated to living to the fullest and doing what he loves the most. I crave the moments to look at a sunset for hours or the sunrise and just be still. to take it in. to feel the warm sun setting and rising. to hear the birds fade and to hear them chirp. to travel the world and see how others live. to know other peoples' stories. I want to live to tell a tale. to show the world you don't need a f***ing job or money or anything to be happy. Have a camera, have a heart, and have a dream. and there's no better way to put it. because that's what I define myself to be.
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