Interview: ERICK CONCEKA
October 15th, 2021
Tell us about yourself
I consider myself a social person. I like meeting people and getting the opportunity to explore the subjects depicted in my work. I enjoy storytelling and am continuously looking for stories, with a fondness for creating my own. It’s likely my desire to get into cool places and situations. The idea of using a camera as a key to get into them, and the opportunity to capture them. It’s what keeps me going.
What inspired you to get into photography?
Quite a mix of ingredients. For starters, a love of being in new places. They don’t even have to be photogenic or appealing, which is why I wouldn’t consider myself a travel photographer. I’m not looking for a pretty shot of a pretty place. My focus lies on other things, like how we do things or why we do them. Those questions have always inspired me to dig into the nature of human interactions.
Another thing that drives me is the power we have to capture all these wonders with just a tiny piece of metal and mechanisms. Cameras are the only thing in the world that have that power and I find it amazing!
Lastly, but not any less inspirational, the work from my fellow colleagues. I’ve studied the masters and top tier names since I started on this journey, and believe that the most revolutionary way to get inspired is to see other photographers’ work. Whether it’s through books, exhibitions, social media or other platforms, you can find infinite inspiration out there. People are creating amazing stuff all over the world, and we are lucky enough to get access to it just by pressing a button. Now isn’t that amazing?
Has your method changed over time?
Yes, it definitely has. Mainly the way I approach my subjects and the situations I come across on a daily basis. At first I was shy, kind of clumsy, and honestly a bit scared. Fear is a factor that became an important part of my method. It’s what keeps me alert, in the zone, and living the moment. When you are scared your senses get sharper. It’s on you to shift this fear into focus and start paying more attention to details.
Describe your creative process?
Having a camera at all times is crucial. I would say it’s almost 80% of the whole creative process of making photos on the streets, and pretty much anywhere. I have to be ready at all times. Every situation is a potential photo. I don’t follow a specific routine or anything. I mostly try to adapt my daily life to my creative process. If I go to the supermarket, walk my dog, meet some friends for beer, the camera has to be there. Or else there’s no point in doing all these. You never know when something’s going to happen, and when it does, you want to be ready!
What are the key elements that you search for when taking a photograph?
I like to trust my gut whenever I’m walking around the streets. I look for emotions and things that apply to my perception of the world, often asking myself how I can translate actions and situations into something I can empathize with. On the other hand, there’s humor. Sense of humor is a hard theme to capture in these tough times for society. People don’t laugh as much nowadays. But there’s always some spark out there.
I live and work in Mexico City. I like to think of the city as a big salad of stuff simultaneously happening at all times. It can get a little hectic! Yet, Mexican culture is known for its humorous and even ironic social dynamics. That’s what I aim to cover. Color, juxtapositions and strange situations I come across are all important subjects in my photographic work.
Is there a theme in your work?
Portraying human interaction with their surroundings and peers, how different people are from each other, how we show ourselves to society. My work is a translation of all those biases and influences in pop culture, media, you name it. All that stuff that makes us who we are. A sense of self awareness and identity also play big roles in my photography. I try to understand myself more with what I capture. My relationships, my mistakes and experiences in general that have led me to this very specific moment in my life.
Name 3 artists you admire most?
Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Daniel Arnold, and William Eggleston.
MAB: I started looking at his photographs from the early stages of my journey as a photographer, and got instantly hooked by his visual poetry. He was just the best at showing beauty in banality, and everyday life back in those post-revolution Mexico days. He was a master and an example of what seeing is all about.
Daniel Arnold: Maybe some of you know him, he’s quite famous on social media nowadays, but mainly what I like about Daniel’s work is that he applies his personality. His knowledge in pop culture and society to his photos. He’s just so quick, and smart with the camera. He knows where to stand, and mainly he knows when to click. I had the privilege of taking one of his workshops, and he just gets it, you know? He makes it look so simple. He achieves to imprint a sense of atmosphere in his photos. You can feel you are there just by looking at them.
William Eggleston: If you like color, you need to know Eggleston. He was the man back in the day; so fearless, and brave in demonstrating that color photography could also be considered art. Back in those days, when black and white photography was the standard, and the only thing accepted by the art world.
I once saw this documentary about him, “Imagine: The Colorful Mr Eggleston” , there he explains how he started photographing his town of Memphis, Tennessee a small and peaceful town in Midwest USA where apparently nothing happened, and everything was boring and mundane. So then he started photographing what he knew. He shifted the whole idea of beauty back then. And when time came he showed this work at MOMA, and nobody understood it at first but he kept on going and made everyone in the photography world change their minds about what deserves to be photographed. He made photography a democratic craft, and that’s huge.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Work with your fear, make mistakes, and embrace them. You cannot get good at this without taking bad pictures. Consider that close to 99% of the shots you’re getting, will be bad shots. There I said it.
It’s up to you to go for that 1%. When you get there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s just the best of feelings. In the end, you learn more from your mistakes than from that one good picture. But above all, just have fun out there.
What role does art play in society?
It’s one of the most honest and sincere ways to channel human emotions, making it an essential factor in the building of sensible human beings, and societies in general. It’s a way to develop a conscience and skills. It establishes socio political statements to help change the way we think as a whole.