Equipment used: Mamiya RZ67, Rolleiflex, Yashica GSN
Film used: Fujifilm Neopan 100, Kodak TMax 400
Locations: Greater Osaka & Kyoto, Nabari (Mie Pref.)
In 2011, an opportunity existed to study abroad in Japan through a foreign exchange programme. As my interest for this materialised, I was able to save sufficiently to travel to the country for ten months, between August 2013 and June 2014. My main two reasons for going were to gain proficiency in the language, and, of course, to photograph.
Although I was photographing regularly from the beginning, I wasn't producing good work. That changed in the Spring semester. At that time, I was able to take a course at Kansai Gaidai (the school I was going to at the time), titled Visual Anthropology of Japan. I was able to treat this effectively as a photography course, granted that the work had anthropological significance. This course began just as I became adequately accustomed to the Japanese visual landscape.
Like a photography class, we needed to choose a themed project to work on throughout the term. I chose Riverbeds, due to an assumed versatility and coherence of the project.
Despite my insistence of using my usual arcane B&W film workflow, everything worked out surprisingly well. This is true especially seeing that I had no access to darkroom or developing facilities. My homestay family permitted me to develop film in the shower room. I managed to include metal processing tanks and reels in my luggage (much to the interest of airport security). I was able to buy everything else I needed (containers, chemicals, negative files, etc.) at the enormous camera shop located in downtown Osaka: Yodobashi. Shuttering the spare bedroom of the house made it dark enough to reel film. I edited and selected my images by looking at the negatives in the sunlight, and scanned them in the office of one of the faculty at Kansai Gaidai. The prints were made digitally at a professional lab, paid for by the school. It wasn't until months after returning home that I realised how lucky I was that I had a completed workflow, made possible through the kindness of a multitude of individuals.
After classes ended in late May, I had enough money remaining that I could stay in the country for an additional month. During this time I focused on photography almost full-time. I followed the rivers out into the Osaka portside area, thus transforming the project from riverbeds to waterways.
For the majority of these images, my photographic process in the field was usually conducted in one of two ways. The first was that I would get off at a certain station near a waterway (or in downtown Osaka), and walk 5-10 miles photographing things that looked interesting. Second, I had around a half-dozen places in Osaka and Kyoto where I would stay mostly in the same place and photograph more intensively. This gave the work a balance between conveying visual discovery and more intensive exploration of an area.
The work in this site includes more than the scope of the waterways project, consisting mainly of the other occasional successes I had in photographing early on. But 9 out of any 10 decent images during my trip emanated from waterways. Visual Anthropology was an answer to a prayer, permitting me to plug-in that process of discovery and goal-seeking which is so essential for me to come to terms with an area photographically.
Hallows of Industry
Equipment used: Mamiya RZ67
Film used: Arista.EDU/Fomapan 200, Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100,
Kodak Tmax 100, Ilford Pan F Plus 50
Locations: Hialeah, North Miami
Past midnight. Deep in the back of an alleyway, an old truck stands in disrepair. Preparing to take the picture, I close my eyes and listen to drops of water streaming down the gutters of the buildings all around me. I hear the dim buzz of a streetlight that illuminates a portion of the alley, and the distant sound of trains, industrial equipment, barking guard dogs, and cars on the highway. The evening is warm and the air drenched with humidity, a damp scent lingering from the earlier August rain. After taking the picture I leave the truck behind and examine a nearby building: chipped paint, opaque windows with cracks and an eerie florescent glow penetrating the broken glass.
This was a shoot in one of the many industrial areas in Hialeah. These places have fascinated me since I was young, and I would regularly shoot in an industrial area walking distance from my home long before this ever became a project. Industrial areas have a specifically practical design; they aren't designed to be pretty or to impress anyone, they're made to be a place where work gets done. Because of this, they have a unique aesthetic that nobody seems to notice. To those who work there, they're seen as nothing more than a place of work, and as a blight not worth looking at to the passerby. But to those with an artistic eye, the areas have a genuine, open, and beautiful space that makes an awesome ground for great photographs.
This project was made during two different times in my life and also during two substantially different economic times. The factories that were running 24/7 in 2008 have become silent, and there are blocks of factories that have become completely empty after the economic downturn. Factories still in business are struggling to stick around. As a result, different images for this project have opposite feelings from vibrancy to desolation. This is another thing that seems to go unnoticed; blocks of factories and businesses silently disappear without any notice mention of it on the news.
Also in 2010 when I recontinued the project, I was in the midst of recovering from a concussion so severe that almost everything about me, from my train of thought even down to the look of my handwriting, had changed. I was genuinely fearful that I wouldn't be able make good pictures anymore. Fortunately, I made some of the best photography I've ever done by virtue of using photography as an outlet for my pains and frustrations at the time. That was extremely liberating.
I consider this to be a well-developed, cohesive, and mature project, and the work has influenced the course and (conceptual) tonality of all the work that's followed this early project, completed before I even finished high school.
Parks in Hialeah
Equipment used: Mamiya RZ67
Film used: Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100, Ilford Pan f plus 50
Ever since I was first interested in photography, I would enjoy taking pictures at Amelia Earhart Park; a local, large Hialean park that my mother took me to visit since I was a very young child. I grew up with the park, and have memories from every single part of it within. I used to call it “Hallelujah Park” when I was young, presumably because I loved going there so much. In terms of photography, the park never seemed to get tired of the camera, and I took many pictures of the trees, sunsets, lakes, rocks, playgrounds, buildings, and people in the park. When deciding a new project for the Spring, I committed to the theme Parks in Hialeah. In theory, this would enable me to make high-quality B&W images of Amelia; which still seemed to have an ample amount of potentially good pictures, while allowing me to photographically explore the many other parks within the city.
In reality, choosing parks just in Hialeah proved to be far too limiting. Most of the other parks in Hialeah were gravely uninteresting, and as a result I shot at Amelia so much that it had finally started to become exhausted in the face of the camera. It got to the point where more often than not, I would not even take my camera out of its bag during an entire shoot. Near the end of the semester I felt like a complete prisoner.
On top of this, there were severe technical hurtles as well. My favorite paper brand Oriental had recently changed the look of their papers, not for the better, and working with it was a nightmare. I switched papers mid-semester, but printing was still made difficult due to the negatives having a consistency which I was unused to working with. Instead of making prints of stark, contrasty buildings photographed in the middle of the night, here I was making prints of hand-held, low-contrast pictures of nature taken at dusk. A suitable difference.
With muddy-looking prints and nothing good to photograph, there were many times during the semester when I was at wits end. Having distanced myself from the project now and outside of the frustration I was dealing with, I realize that I produced some pretty good images and learned a lot, and it was worthwhile to photograph. I have no regrets.
Places of Worship
Equipment used: Mamiya RZ67, Canon AE-1 Program
Film used: Fuji Neopan 100 Acros, Kodak T-max 100
Locations: Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Liberty City, Miami, Broward County
This project was inspired by my own home church of Trinity Cathedral. Trinity Cathedral is a historical Episcopalian church in downtown Miami; and between its ornate alter, stained glass windows, and grand architecture, I thought it'd be a place to make great pictures. Thus, I chose Places or Worship for the semester's project, allowing me to get pictures of Trinity and explore the many other places of worship throughout South Florida.
Being just as dedicated as ever, I photographed a very large variety of places for this project; mosques, Hindu temples, cathedrals, inner-city churches, and so on. In the end I got some legitimate keepers, but during shooting I had many more inexplicable failures than successes.
I would like to think that the following factors prompted this. For one thing, when I was in the field, the locations were usually populated. I always get unnerved and distracted while shooting with any number of strangers watching what I'm doing, even if they don't mind me photographing. Most religious architecture is also characteristically clean, austere, stoic, and solemn. This seems contrary to my own vision, which captures character within some form of decay or evidence of use. It's not as if these buildings couldn't be photographed properly, but the subject just wasn't compatible with my vision.
These are both very neat explanations, but they somehow seem insufficient on their own. A deeper reason might also have to do with my own continual struggles with faith, as well as a struggle with the more loaded implications of religions symbols (as opposed to a bridge or subdued night factory), and how these elements are interpreted and given meaning in a photograph. In other words, the project was more than I could muster. It would be interesting to see how different things would be if I re-continued the project, as I now have a different way of interpreting and thinking about religious symbols and motifs.
So what is the project really about? This is a complicated question, because depending on my final selection of images, this could have been an objective and continuous document of South Florida places of worship. But I've been more rigorous and less objective in my editing, and its meaning has transformed with the choice of images. The project in its current form is something different which I can't quite put a finger on. What I can say is that this is probably the least objective (if photography can ever be said to have any level of objectivity) and most symbolic project of any I've done. This is surely due to the prevalent, universally-recognised symbols of religion, but this is superimposed over subtler, more personal symbols that perhaps only I can fully acknowledge and interpret.
Equipment used: Canon AE-1 Program
Film used: Fomapan 400/100, Tmax 100
Locations: Hialeah, Miami, Miami Springs, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Florida Keys
Bridges is the first full, semester-length themed project I did in photography, and it was conducted with only one semester’s worth of previous darkroom training. Considering that this was my first project, made when I was yet fifteen, composition and (conceptual) focus of the images is surprisingly sure-footed and confident. These images contain precise composition and a tight subject matter which any earlier work lacked. I basically knew what I wanted to extract from this project, and did so systematically. Although there were some lapses in the quality and productivity of my shoots and choice of images I decided to print, there was a sudden, spring-like jump in the worth of this project's best pictures compared with earlier efforts.
Although this was my first project, my interest in photography was not new. I had already long been practicing photography by myself to a certain extent, although with digital equipment and without academic or professional guidance. In early 2007 I bought a Nikon D80 with allowance money saved over a period of years. I took that camera everywhere and photographed everything I could.
None of the work during that time is actually very good or interesting, because I hadn't the knowledge or skill to hold myself to any real standard. What I did have was a love and enthusiasm for photography. I started photo courses at Florida International University, taken through the Dual Enrollment program. I took my unbridled enthusiasm and interest in photography with me to these classes. During my photo I and II courses, I had the great fortune of an instructor who was articulate in guidance and critique, and had high standards for students. During Photo II, when I made Bridges, there were only four people in the class, including myself. This was practically akin to private tutoring. I would spend all day twice a week in the darkroom, and almost always went shooting two more days a week.
This project was a real adventure. not only did I discover facets of my own city, but I traveled from Key West to St. Petersburg in search of interesting subjects.
I was born in June of 1992. I was born, raised, and continue to live in Hialeah, Florida. In Spring 2016, I graduated from FIU with a fine arts degree.
I have been interested in cameras, picture-taking, and the nature of looking at things for as long as I can remember, and started seriously perusing photography when I was 13. At 15, I began photography courses at FIU through the Dual Enrollment program and as a result have refined my artistic ability greatly. I live with my two parents and four cats.
I'm currently working on a Master's degree at FIU in Asian Studies.
In keeping with the spirit that my work should be available to all people, all photographs on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This means that you can modify and distribute my work without restriction as long as proper credit is given and derivative works (meaning, visual content which in some way includes or builds upon my photographs) are licensed the same way. You're welcome to contact me with questions.
Contact InformationIf you have questions, suggestions, premonitions, or complaints; or if you just want to chat, shoot me an email at
All B&W images shown on this website are available as an 8x10 print for $75 or an 11x14 print for $150. Shipping is free of charge worldwide.
Each photograph is made by hand in the darkroom by the artist. Exhibition-quality archival double-weight fiber-based paper is used for all prints. Prints are signed on verso with the location and time the image was taken.
Please send an email to: with the print you'd like if you are interested.
All of the film images on this site were scanned with an Epson Perfection V500 scanner with the Linux scan utility, and were processed in GIMP with tonal corrections and dust removal. Great pains were taken to make the digital transfer look as close to the original print as possible. Digital images were processed in GIMP, and besides a small handful of images which underwent basic tonal and color corrections, are unmodified.
This website was designed by George Foster Pearson and constructed by myself, Tim Selaty Jr., and Scott Steffes.
The basis for the design is to provide an elegant, unobtrusive space to compliment and present its images.