How did you get started as a photographer? I didn’t study photography in school, so becoming a photographer has been a long, ongoing process of learning and trying different things. Many years ago, I started playing around and making videos with my friends in Barcelona. I then moved to New York and assisted a photographer for about three years. But, I had things to say on my own, so almost six years ago, I started freelancing. Since then, I’ve grown and made a million mistakes, but it’s thanks to that journey that I am who I am today.
How has your creative perspective been shaped by your background in ballet and contemporary dance? Dance was in my life before I can even remember. As a kid, I would be dancing every hour of every day, and as I grew up, that’s how I continued occupying all of my time. I trained in flamenco and ballet. I was determined to be a dancer. In college, I chose to major in communications and philosophy, but after a long journey, I have found my way back to dance using a different lens. In my work, I am inspired as much by the performative aspect of dance as I am by its spiritual side. Through dance, I have gained a strong body consciousness of my own body and, more importantly, of the subjects I photograph. On my sets, music plays an important role. It sets the tone and it enables the space to become a whole, and the whole team becomes part of the same universe. New York, with its diverse and abundant dance agenda, has also allowed me to come back to dance in many ways, and I have reconnected with my Caribbean roots. Dance is a huge part of who I am, and I still dance every moment I can. It recharges my spirit and fills me with immense joy.
What intrigues you about the human form? Through photography, I have learned that all bodies are unique and that there are as many forms as humans on this planet. It is my responsibility to make each subject feel beautiful in their own body and to celebrate, amplify and give space to every single form that exists. The minute a subject stands in front of my camera, we begin a moving dialogue. I guide them in order to find the most beautiful ways their body can move.
What inspired you to launch your portrait series Being in History? I started the project more than a year ago. By the time the pandemic hit, I had more than 30 portraits, and it didn’t make sense to keep these photos to myself in a time when we needed positive narratives. As the Black Lives Matter marches became bigger and Pride weekend approached, I decided to self-publish the project. I gave each subject the autonomy to post their own portrait in order for them to not be edited by any publication and to place themselves at the center of their own story. I also decided to occupy more than just the digital space, so for more than two weeks, I looked for empty walls in Manhattan, specifically in the West Village and Chelsea. I managed to paste seven large-format prints from the project with the help of my friends—and scaffoldings—for what would have been Pride weekend. In a time of so much grief, the photos became a physical form of protest by occupying the same streets where the Stonewall riots started more than 50 years ago.
What has surprised you about the response to Being in History? The response has been beautiful and organic. From each subject posting their own images, it has felt like we have been in control of our statements and have succeeded in getting the message through. I also created a print sale of the photos from the project, and I have donated the profits to three organizations that protect the lives of trans people. By self-publishing the project, we have created a movement by us, for us.
How do you balance personal work with commissions? My personal and commissioned work are intertwined. Not having studied fine art, I am arriving at photography through the opportunities commissioned work has opened for me. I try to be selective with the projects in which I put my energy. Personal and commissioned work have to be in a constant dialogue, informing each other and I make sure everything is aligned with the values I stand for.
Which creatives do you most admire? I admire a lot of amazing friends and artists that surround me! The painters Cassi A. Namoda and Simón Sepúlveda, the Colombian musicians Carolina Oliveros, Lido Pimienta and Li Saumet, visual artist Orly Anan, multifaceted artist Yasmina Benabdelkrim, drag queen West Dakota, performer and activist Alok Vaid-Menon, activist Ericka Hart, painter and activist Chella Man, writer Leticia Sala, filmmaker Maria Sosa, and photographers Olga de la Iglesia and Carlota Guerrero.
What is your dream assignment? I had the immense luck to be able to complete my dream assignment right before the lockdown. I was commissioned by the New York Times to photograph the dance company of Manuel Linal, an artist in the south of Spain who explores gender identity in flamenco. I was able to photograph the amazing dancers of his company in their costumes for his show VIVA, which explores the oppression of the gender binary through the traditional forms of flamenco.
What do you think of the photography industry at the moment, and where do you see it headed? I am not sure where the “photography industry” is headed. Its future is very uncertain to me, but I am happy to embrace it. Photography has a huge responsibility, now and always, to bring hidden realities to the surface. We have the power to change the narrative of power, show new agents of history and include voices that haven’t been heard before. We have the power to manifest the impossible.