Why Focus on Photography

A Side Quest in Storytelling

THE CELEBRATION

Photo credit: Eimy Figueroa at www.thegoldenfig.com

I recently realized why my love for photography has exponentially grown in the past years, and why I’ve focused to sharpen the skill. As a storyteller, I truly appreciate what one can see in a single photograph, the little nuances that help tell a novel through a single frame, and of course, even more with what one can tell through albums, collections, or sets of photographs.

With this pursuit, I can take advantage of using visuals in stories, creating them piece-by-piece through the images, and at times, include words for a complete expression. I know this sounds elementary, but when you find a new outlet, and you create something you believe to be interesting, it helps reenergize the creative mind. I’ve written stories and editorials for years, I studied film and still work towards a screenwriting future, but photography, focusing on this new skill has given me vigor.

Through almost-three-years of photographing, I’ve studied the masters, experimented with different formats, thoroughly enjoyed the process of constantly failing with film photography. But more importantly, in the end, I didn’t have to try to love every minute of what I have been doing, because the process has been a joy from the start. I’ve roamed the streets of New York City looking for the right light, and in the journey, found new favorite spots in my city. I’ve brought to life images that I am incredibly attached to, images that I spent hundreds of dollars to print and frame, images that I hope will last forever. And because I started to appreciate photography in a new way so long ago, half-way through the journey, I even took a job which luckily includes photography as a daily task—the added perk of doing something creative and being paid for it.

THE (year-to-year) GRIND

Late into 2014 I began shooting on a 35mm film camera and taking photography to this new level. Before, I was like the masses, snapping photos at personal events, trips, etc., but I was just lucky to boast a good eye for composition. But just the eye was never enough, it took learning how a camera works, how to create with different lenses, and how to manipulate within my surroundings—all skills that were made mandatory when working with film photography—to fully appreciate what it took to make an image come to life. My study focused on the trifecta: the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO, and once those three are understood, you move on to the next level of learning. I began roaming New York City and taking my time with each shot, slowly but surely enhancing my ability.

It should go without saying that in my first six months of shooting with a 35mm film camera I went through many rolls of film and a lot of dollars. The result being an uncountable amount of terribly overexposed or unnaturally underexposed photographs. The art was hard, but as my new favorite saying goes: “hard things are hard.” Just when it started defeating me, I began to see three or five shots that I was proud of in each developed roll. I began to see glimpses of photography is my shooting around NYC, and these slivers of light kept the spark alive.

In the Summer of 2015 I even had the luck of using photography to help my career growth. My position as Communications Manager is not unlike previous work I’ve done in marketing, but it was my capability with a camera—which I worked on for months leading up to this point—the factor that I believe put me above others. No, I was no professional, but proficiency, willingness to grow in a field, and continuing to educate myself helped me move into this new job. My drive towards life-long learning got me here, and gave me this opportunity that led to the next.

My first time sharing was in R Culture, in a piece called “Monsters in New York City.” The piece was featured in the first issue of the quarterly magazine. The art and culture magazine was produced by Anthony Gaskins of PCP Media and myself, and it aimed to open the possibilities for artists, writers, and other creative people to feature their work, all while supporting students in their own journey in taking part in their culture, art, and social movements. I was lucky to have contributed for, designed, and edited the magazine along with Anthony, and I was blessed to have a space to share what I’ve been working on, the art I’ve grown to love. Sharing is caring, so I shared what I cared about. Read More

The Magical Places

Pray for Those

At different stages in our lives magical places appear that we need more than ever before. Your mother’s lap as a small child, your first bedroom filled with imagination, a friend’s basement during troubling teen years, a corner of your college campus to hide away, a new city as you get close to being an adult, or a getaway place once adult life becomes something you need rest from. Through life’s years, the magical places shift and mold into something new and fresh, into whatever makes you feel safe, into whatever gives your mind, body, and soul what it needs most.

Puerto Rico has been my place the last few years. It has been my getaway, it has been my writer’s retreat, it has been the safe space I love next to someone I love.

Like many other places—of which are other people’s magical place—Puerto Rico was thrashed by this terrible storm. The storm wrecked many islands, many homes, and is aiming for more. The storm, followed by a second, is hurting land and people that I care about. An earthquake shook a city that holds people I worry about. Tropical Storm Harvey battered the Texan lands and the people are still struggling to clean up. I don’t have the means to help these magical places with money or supplies, but I have my heart and my prayers that go out to them.

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ICP Exposure, Light, and Composition

Never Not Learning

I recently took a course at the International Center of Photography (ICP) to more deeply explore exposure, light, and composition. This was my first time taking a class at ICP, and really my first classroom experience for photography in general. I would strongly endorse all learning opportunities—always will—and this is no exception. Even if photography is still somewhat of a hobby, learning best practices and new techniques was a remarkable experience.

“Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst.”
—Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Las Tetas de Cayey

Exploring Puerto Rico

Photo by Marisol Pesquera

It’s no surprise I’ve taken a liking to Puerto Rico. I mean, I have always been attracted to beaches, palm trees, and tropical weather. I had two-out-of-three while living out in Los Angeles, and again two-out-of-three while living back home in Argentina. But, in heavenly Puerto Rico, I have three-of-three, plus a boricua girlfriend by my side to explore The Island with.

Don’t get me wrong, New York is my city, and Brooklyn is my home, that won’t change anytime soon, but my seasonal get-aways to La Isla del Encanto have been my sanctuary. This trip to Puerto Rico in particular has been the most reflective and restorative. In just a few days I have been able to restore my mind to write more, learn more, explore more, live more, and just plain work harder. I always knew the bright sun and this type of setting were my energizers, but these past few days in Puerto Rico have further proved it.

“This trip to Puerto Rico in particular has been the most reflective and restorative. In just a few days I have been able to restore my mind to write more, learn more, explore more, live more, and just plain work harder.”

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NY Comic Con, Here I Come

Nerd Heaven: Year Two

With so much joy pulsating through my fingers I type the following sentence: my tickets are purchased, and again, I am going to NY Comic Con!

[insert three nerd-glasses emoji here]

Moving to the greatest city in the world has its perks. Not only do I get to live in the capital of the world, but I get to enjoy all this bustling city has to offer. I attended some amazing events at Madison Square Garden, I took part in the NY PRIDE March two years in a row, I have front row seats to the coolest fireworks on the 31st and the 4th, and so much more. But, most importantly for this post, I am going to one of the biggest comic conventions—or “pop culture conventions” as they call them now—for the second year in a row. If I’m lucky, I can keep these traditions alive for years to come, and who knows, even add new ones.

PRIDE and Comic Con go hand-in-hand in my book. They are proof of acceptance, a large community of individuals who don’t worry about race, creed, sexuality, etc., they care about the humans that are behind the shared interests or shared movements towards world-wide acceptance and love.

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Keep Being Proud

Acceptance is A Must

After my second year attending the New York PRIDE March, I consider where I might have last witnessed a more open and joyful environment. Proud.

Maybe it was watching legions at the 2017 Women’s March after our so-called “President” took office, maybe it was a nerd-filled theater antsy for the newest Marvel cinematic release to begin, or it could have been at last year’s New York Comic Con. But with all honesty, in my journeyed life, such unabashed celebration and joy is hard to find—unfortunately, the world is still filled with too much hate—so, I urge you all to make these festivals of life and acceptance more abundant and more approachable. Read More

Mi Amor, Boca Juniors

Remembering The Words For Love

While working on my newest story, I found myself having issues putting into words my love for the most beautiful sport in the world: el fútbol. I was mostly having issues expressing what football means to me—the feeling of being on the pitch, of having the ball at my feet, or of cheering on the greatest team in the world. As Boca Juniors’ anniversary approached, the words for love started to reappear, and I found accurate ways to describe how much the azul y oro truly means to me, and I remembered the faithful ways to convey to the world what this sport means, how it makes my heart pump. Read More

My Cultural Identity Look

Be culture, love your culture, keep your culture.

Argentina Celebration (80)Culture. History. Identity. Heritage. Blood. Lineage. Ancestry. Roots. Birthright… I could keep going on-and-on-and-on with different names for the same concept. I could go on-and-on-and-on about what it means to me and how I show mine… well, actually, I will. Because it took too many years for me to realize the importance of my identity—my culture—numerous years that I am embarrassed to admit here now, but will.

My journey first took me from Tucuman, Argentina, to Damascus, Maryland. I talk about this first move a lot. The change in scenery, in cultures, in attitudes, was big. Not something I totally understood as a 10-year-old, but something I now look back on and see with astonished eyes. I partly blame my surrounding, and partly my incapability to understand the importance of my culture, for the way this all happened.

Growing up in a vastly contrasting places in the States, I had been beaten down to loose my culture—my identity—throughout the years. “Beaten” might be a strong expression, but throughout the years I was made to feel like I had to hide it because it was outside the norm, outside the uniform of the United States of America that I was growing up in. But my name kept my strings close to my lineage, my name kept reminding me who I am, and my name kept me grounded to the roots that were embarrassingly close to withering. Read More

The 22 Push-Up Challenge

To raise awareness about veteran suicide rates.

Push-Up ScreenshotI usually don’t take up challenges like this one, or even causes like these, but the 22 Push-Up Challenge—to raise awareness about veteran suicide rates—resonates with me on a different level. It’s hard for me to put into words my feelings towards suicide, once I start to think about it it’s hard to think clearly, but it’s something I now actively try to not ignore anymore. If you start to educate yourself on suicide rates in the U.S., and in the world, it’s a troubling path with numbers that astound. And although the numbers given in this challenge aren’t totally factual (22 veterans do not commit suicide daily), the rates for veteran suicide is 50% higher than of those who never enlisted, and that is troubling for many reasons. Read More

Monsters in New York City

Look to the monsters around you to fuel your creativity.

Gray Crowd MonstersThe monsters can surround you or hide deep inside. They can be the height of the tallest mountain or the little bug that keeps buzzing by your ear, keeping you awake. The monsters can be in your closet at night on just in your head, the wild imagination that keeps you uncomfortable in the dark. At the end of the day, monsters are anywhere and everywhere, they are big and small, they are physical and metaphorical, but what you have to remember is that the monsters are around to keep you in constant fear, to halt you in your tracks, but they should never keep you from doing what you need to do.

I left Los Angeles on January 1, 2014. This was a fearful time, as it was a step away from comfort, but more importantly, it was a step towards a dream I should have been following long ago. Hell, comfort can be the worst monster out there, but that’s a tale for another page.  Read More

New Work, New World

It took ten months, but I’ve found my bearings and the thrashing waters of life have settled.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 1.25.58 AMThe winter over-stayed, the spring was nonexistent, and the busy summer scorches through into eternity. With time having its fun, the weeks flew from tomorrows into todays, todays into yesterdays, and all-too-quickly, into last months. I studied the downtown and the midtown, the east side to the west, and the uptown is next to conquer.  New York City, 2015, becomes mine. New York City, 2015, resembles the gentrified skyline of my Brooklyn streets: many lows and few high-rises. But as the heat rays start to hint at taking their many-month nap, the new high-rises fill the neighborhood with shadows, and life’s ups start kicking where the sun don’t shine.

Just last month I took a new job. You are now looking at the new Communications Manager at a private school in the Upper West Side. Not just any private school, but a progressive private school. What does that even mean? I don’t know yet, I guess I’ll find out (and I guess I’ll tell you all about it). But, what’s important is that in this crazy world of kicked up dust and pushy streets, I’ve found a place for the specs to settle, I’ve found a balance that shapes everything around me into an uncharacteristic calm. It’s kind of nice. Read More

A Year With St. Ignatius of Loyola

And his oh-so perceptive daily thoughts.

St. Ignatius at Georgetown PrepFlashback to 2007, my high school graduation from Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, MD, where I had spent 3 years under their Jesuit heavy teaching, learning all about the Society of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, being a man for others, so on, and so on. As part of Prep’s going away care package for all the students in the graduating class, I received a copy of Thoughts of St. Ignatius Loyola: For Every Day of the Year, and like most other things from this blur-of-a-day, the book was set aside for future reminiscing and not given a second thought. Now flashback to just the beginning of 2014, while I am packing up my things in LA and ready to make tons of changes in my life, and what do I come across in my huge box of books but my copy of St. Ignatius Loyola’s thoughts. Like an act of faith, paths lining up for a greater message, I took upon the new year with one morning task to never break: pick up these insightful daily thoughts and take the time to read, understand, and contemplate each day.

From the very beginning of my education in a Jesuit institution, I took interest in the subject. Starting with their penetrating work through education, to their wise promotion of social justice and ecumenical dialogue, something about this society stood out to me and made me want to get involved. Service, retreats, and daily worship ensued for a few years, but then college and time in Hollywood took me under and kept me at arm’s length for a while. Of course, like fate tends to do in troubling times, a random sign came through in the way of these sagacious daily thoughts, which brought be back and birthed a new daily routine to keep me close and welcomed. Read More

Are PRIDE FC Fighters Finally Outdated?

Did PRIDE FC legends ever make waves in modern MMA? Or are they just a cheap commodity for bloody entertainment?

98afee6daeca4428b8b1a19c9c9596b1In the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the proverbial torch has been in the process of passing for a few years now, ever since the influx of lighter weights, athletic heavyweights, and scientific weight cuts. The Lightweight division is taken over by the WEC with technicians like Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson putting UFC standouts to shame, young athletes like Jon Jones train to become the best and in the process embarrass the best Light Heavyweights ever inside the Octagon, and last we have Cain Velasquez, who we all saw as a small Heavyweight, but with amazing wrestling and powerful combos can take out the rest of the big guys who are weighed down by too many pounds.

So, in lieu of all this change, all this new meat, new athletes showcasing the new age of the sport, where do the PRIDE FC guys stand? Have the best fighters from the classic Japanese promotion been able to make their way into the modern era and make an impact on the MMA world? Following this weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. St. Preux, it’s easy to say no, the PRIDE guys are outdated. Young, athletic, powerful — and somewhat unknown — fighters like St. Preux can take out a legend in just 34 seconds, what does that mean for where MMA is going?

Let’s take a look at some of the best PRIDE fighters who are still in the fight game or are recently retired:

THE GOOD

Winning records, titles with defenses, and improved techniques.

quentinjacksonkoQuinton “Rampage” Jackson: During his PRIDE days, Rampage amassed a 12-5 record, which is one of the worst compared to the rest of the fighters on this list, but he was able to make the most impact on MMA post-Japan, actually walking away from the UFC with a winning record of 7-5. While in the UFC, Rampage had an interesting rivalry with Rashad Evans, some issues with weight and his celebrity status, but what is most important is that he was the only one of this list to gain a UFC belt and actually defend it. Since he has made a move to Bellator, he has gone 3-0, but we all know he isn’t fighting anyone close to his caliber, so it’s not much to add while talking about his legacy. Read More

I Dream of Zelda

Tales From Hyrule, or I Fell For A Character: How Fictional Love Can Impact Our Lives

fkyt97naxhmiohp1ykeaLast week Zelda lovers were made aware of the next release in the long line of Hylian tales. The uproar screamed of good news for some, bad news for others. It turns out that the next release is a remake of the cult classic The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, this time for the Nintendo 3DS. In the same fashion that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was remade for the Nintendo 3DS back in 2011, this new release will ultimately be the same game, with minor tweaks, and a 3D remastering to make it all more fitting for today’s gaming world.

Now, I have personally met many die-hard Zelda fans that will defend Majora’s Mask all the way to the grave and farther, claiming it’s unorthodox storyline and creatively dark tune make for the best game in the Zelda series. I am not one of these people. To be fully honest, and this is hard for me to admit being the self-proclaimed biggest Zelda fan in the world, I have never finished this game. I have tried and failed to grasp the overall idea of the gameplay, the looming three-day doomsday, the mask play, and the time traveling Link. But, although I was not a fan of Majora’s Mask before, in the name of my true love, Zelda, I will give it another shot — and also, the enigmatic trailer Nintendo used to get the news out was fascinating.


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The Hand of Maradona

Maradona was an idol, now he is a monster.

182_1Maradona_arg_bra_82_copyGrowing up there were few people I idolized: Paul McCartney, Michelangelo — the Ninja Turtle, not the artist — and none other than the greatest football player in history, the national hero, El Diez, Diego Armando Maradona. Like Paul was a musical god to me, Diego Maradona was like the all-mighty creator of my football universe, the father of golazos, the Argentinean savior. It wasn’t just the World Cup that he brought home in 1987, and it wasn’t the fact that he bled Boca Jrs. blue and yellow (and later the Barcelona blaugrana), it was the national pride that he brought the Argentinians, knowing that the greatest footballing nation fathered the greatest footballer in history. It was knowing that we have been right in claiming to be the best in the world, because we had created the best in the world.

I idolized Maradona like any other sane Argentinean did. I would watch his games on repeat as a child, I would buy DVDs of behind-the-scenes action from tournaments and study his game, his characteristics, his attitude, his dance moves. I would be mesmerized by the way he was so short yet jumped so elegantly for headers, the way he would cross from the right side with a tricky rabona, because he wouldn’t be as accurate with his right foot as his left, the way he invented moves on the fly to throw defenders off his trail, his speed, his finesse, his power. One of my most prized possessions growing up, even through college, was a poster from an old Argentinean magazine from the 90’s, with the image of La Mano de Dios, The Hand of God. I would have this poster up at any apartment I ever lived in. It was the first thing I noticed in the morning and the last thing I would look at before I started dreaming. But, like any celebrity who flies too close to the sun, it is a matter of time before they burn up, and fall crashing to the ground. Read More

Ibrahimovic Loves Ronaldo

Why admiring the best is a good thing and why falling in love with the greats puts you in the right path to become a great.

I think this so interesting; the looking up to a hero, admiring the best in the world, having someone to set the bar for you throughout your career. All these can either hinder your production or excel you into the ranks of the greats, depending on whether you hold in high regards the right person and you use your time to work to reach them, not just use your time to meet them.

“For me, Ronaldo is the greatest. Over the past ten years, he was as Pelé. There was nobody like him. No one has influenced both the football and the players who emerged as Ronaldo. When he stopped, it will be great as Pelé.” – Zlatan

Case in point for me has to be Zlatan Ibrahimović’s love for the one-and-only, the greatest number 9 in history, Il Fenomeno, Ronaldo. I bring up Ronaldo in everyday football chats very often, just as much as I talk about Mike Tyson or Novak Djokovic during chats in their respective sports, and one thing I cannot stand is when the first thing I hear after I bring up Ronaldo is “Cristiano?” There is only one Ronaldo among the greatest ever, and although his World Cup goal scoring record was broken this year, he is still among the best starting 11 in history, not only because of the number of goals he has scored but because of his game, his creativity, speed, movement, power, knowledge of the sport, etc. Ronaldo has won 13 titles at club level playing for teams like Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid, Milan, and Corinthians, as well as winning two World Cups (1994, 2002) and two Copa Américas (1997, 1999) with Brazil, and he is still one of only three men to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times or more, along with two others who are in my best starting 11 in history, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane. So, when people ask me to clarify who I’m speaking of, I quickly reply, “Cristiano who?”  Read More

Argentina vs. Brazil: History, Goals, and Upcoming Match

Rivalries keep us on our toes, through pleasure and pain, rivalries keep our hearts racing and our jerseys sweaty.

messi290611_726apaIn my little footballer world, October is filled with rivalry match-ups that have me up all night loosing sleep. It began last weekend with the Superclásico, when my one-and-only, the greatest team in the world, Boca Jrs. took on River Plate in down-pouring rain, which stamped the game a classic before the first whistle. The match ended a 1-1 draw, but all-in-all, we know we played better and we know we deserved that win (did that sound biased?). Later this month, my side-chick, Barcelona will go up against Real Madrid in the Spanish Clásico. With the return of Luis Suárez to the pitch, that should make for a very interesting match-up, with many of the best players in the world taking part in this age-old rivalry.

But, what I am here to talk about right now is something deeper than club play, something more important than borrowed colors and some dollar signs, this is for our country, our birthright, this is the most important rivalry in international football: Argentina vs. Brazil. Tomorrow we get to see a showdown that we hoped we would be graced with during the World Cup, where excuses go out the window and the “it’s just a friendly” talk can’t be brought up. With many of the stars taking part in the match-up, it’s hard to say this won’t be like every other Argentina vs. Brazil “friendly,” where 100% is left on the field and glory is won by those who leave it all for their colors, for their flag, for their nation. Read More

10 Things We Learned From the Jesuits

I identify myself with the Jesuits, their teachings and their way of life, so when I came across this list compiled by a fellow Georgetown Prep alum, I had to share.

The Society of Jesus, a.k.a. Jesuits, work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, there’s no surprise I would follow in their footsteps. Also, graduating from the only Jesuit boarding school in the country had somewhat of a sway in my upbringing. Well, I came across this article written by a fellow Prep alum, Mark Judge, and I think it perfectly embodies not only what I learned in my years at Prep, but also how I live my life.

1. Find God in all things – It’s as simple as that. This beautiful thought, like Mark states, is one of the best gifts we receive from the Jesuit teaching. It truly is.

2. Shake a man’s hand and look him in the eye – While shaking hands and while speaking to anyone, you should always look them in the eye. It’s common courtesy and good manners, something that is lacking today in the millennials.

3. Dress right – Man, if you saw how I dressed before I went into Georgetown Prep you would not even recognize me. I was never taught how to dress well, how to dress appropriately until my years at Prep. From the all-purpose boat shoes, to a classic blue blazer, I can thank Prep for my ageless sense of style. Read More

Comics: Then & Now

And Why You Should Never Quit Comics

My grandmother, La Aba, my mother’s mother, was in my life for just a few short years. She passed away while I was merely seven, but I was blessed to live with her for a couple of those. Although her presence in my life covers just a decimal percentage of my span, there are some memories I will never part with, like how on weekdays we walked the dozen blocks from my elementary school to our apartment, in the heart of San Miguel de Tucumán’s downtown, and she most likely needed to stop at a corner store for some smokes. See, she was hindered, and ultimately fated, by this terrible addiction, but while she told the boy to fetch her two packs of Reds, I set my attention towards the magazine stand a few feet away. While La Aba handed over some cash for her delicious death sticks, I quickly spotted whatever comic was hung up that I hadn’t yet had the luck to read. Prepare the big, brown, puppy eyes, the right words to beg, and as soon as she turned away from her killer and towards me, I was ready. “Por favor, por favor,” would ring out as I clutch a new X-Men comic, or maybe an Action Comics, that was just translated for the Argentinean crowd. Read More

A Tale of Two Matches

Argentina vs. Germany – Today vs. FIFA World Cup Final

Like a stroke of fate, today, two nations competed in a friendly match less than two months removed from battling for the most important sports trophy in the world: The FIFA World Cup. On one side, the Argentineans begin the era of “Tata” Martino, their newly appointed head coach, and on the other, the Germans take the field with ceremonies to commemorate their newly printed jerseys donning not three stars, but four, a statement they wanted to make clear, almost show off, before the two nations took the pitch. Read More

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