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Writing poetry amid pure marketing*

I sneaked into my parents’ home studio late at night, me, silently slipping away to watch the telly with a family-size Coca-Cola. I looked askance at my dad’s camera on his desk, it had an orange ‘click’ and metal plating: always appealing for a four-year-old. From that day on, I have always been enjoying observing it, looking closely, cherishing its details, I adored the feeling of how my little hand adjusted to it. Without a doubt, the most delightful was to put my eye in a viewfinder and, to imagine photos I could take (in fact, there was no click: I would have exposed myself had I wasted the roll). I was spending hours looking through the viewfinder, while moving just a little bit only to capture different angles. I was constantly amazed by how a tiny movement could make an entirely different photograph.

Since that night, I was the one who used to carry dad’s camera and from time to time, yes, he let me take a photo. I always tried to remember what my subject was and then couldn’t wait to see if the photography resembled anything from my memory. Little by little, dad let me use it more, and more often, until that day.

It was my older brother’s graduation from primary school. My excitement up to the skies: I was actually given the camera and instructed to take photographs of the event. From time to time, dad was borrowing it to capture the most important moments, for example on the occasion of an incredibly boring mass. At some random moment, I was actually only looking through the viewfinder, visualising different angles and possible photographs never actually taken, without realising I was pointing at Mr Bombón and Mrs Tere (her Portuguese accent has never faded despite decades living in Mexico). They were posing for a prolonged instant whereas I wasn’t responding with a click, when I suddenly heard:

- Mr photographer, this picture has taken too long.

I looked at them and didn’t get a word. It didn’t occur to me that they could have called me ‘Mister’ and even less, ‘photographer’. On the other hand, what has taken too long? I didn’t even want to take a picture. Seconds after I have realised what has happened and I took a picture swiftly. From that time on, Mr Bombón has always called me ‘Mr photographer’ and, despite denying it, I always secretly relished that.

Watching family photo albums was my daily, somewhat religious activity. I cannot believe that nowadays children are nearly deprived from having a physical photo album in their hands. Today, more photos than ever are taken every day, yet the majority are disposable, aesthetically very poor, of a limited content and perhaps, I dare to say, they are lacking memory. Back in the day, I was able to look at and recognise myself in photography: physically, aesthetically and even intellectually. I was able to know my changing image depending on my different emotions. Not only was I also observing others paying attention to embodied details, but also capturing full stories. I was retelling them or even more, I was imagining parallel stories that hadn’t happened yet were possible in the imagined world, which I often preferred from the real. When I was browsing photo albums with someone else, say, my older siblings, my attention was also at how our stories about images differed from each other, and how each of us remembered different moments. Yet little by little these differences also created a more coherent memory and ultimately, a shared family story.

In the instagrammable world, I deem necessary for children to have an option to acquire wider knowledge about images and photography, even if only because nowadays the picture language is coming out ahead of written language. Although to me, text and image are complementary. It would be useful to learn how to read images, not only from the aesthetics viewpoint, but also from the angle of communication and expression. We would benefit from creating literature through images and ultimately, it’s our responsibility to work on creating narratives that provides our existence and thinking with meaning.

Over many years and miles, I was always carrying a camera with multiple rolls, without realising how important photography was for me. I was resembling that tail about an old fish who was asking youngsters about water and they hadn’t even known what the water was. That was happening, I didn’t even realise what was so fundamental for me, yet that essence always was next to me.

At one point I bought my first fairly decent digital camera Nikon and as a result, my interest in photography expanded massively. But it was the Canon 7D that prompted me to take some formal photography courses, initially at Mexico City Active School of Photography and then, workshops in London and Manchester and yes, it was then that I’ve learned how to use the camera fully on manual.

Upon my arrival to London, the city of multiple façades and perhaps without mercy, my central frustration was my inability to communicate – before anything, at work – which overloaded me with sadness. It was then I have found a refuge in my photography and, I have grown in awareness that that was my natural language. Through photography I could communicate, express and perhaps more importantly, I was able to create. My focus is on street photography, portrait and documentary photography.

My images generated a narrative nearly by themselves; that narrative allowed me to adjust my thoughts and, little by little, I encountered themes of interest that I could start exploring. My first subject, ‘Consciousness’ is a form of therapy. It is embedded in philosophy yet approached from the personal angle. The second, ‘Identity’, quite obviously relates to the fundamental questions of the self, but I also admit that my interest stems from paternity. This is a subject that helps me supporting my son, who needs to face his own cultural mix of, Polish origins on the one hand, (with all its ghosts from the past dyed by black bile given the war), and on the other, Mexican roots (with their apparent illuminating sun that also includes their contrasting chiaroscuro effects, the good and the bad, right and wrong, and in the end, there’s always the burden of Aztec surrealism, from which even André Breton had to escape). This, on top of his immediate British surroundings and, among many questions: what does it mean to be British these days? How to create a new identity while maintaining the roots? And, how to achieve this without depriving one from his own family’s past?

The third theme, ‘Memory’, is approached from the perspective of a family memory and my life-long recording of the momentary passage of my life. Despite it may sound a bit narcissistic, in the end, what is left are the images: the majority without me, concerning stories of the present time. They will rapidly form part of the past, whereas my hope is, they’ll help to understand the family future generations’ ‘here and now’. This, with an intention to heal.

The fourth theme, ‘Togetherness’ stems from my interest in how we make a community happen. It narrows down to document collective celebrations and mobilisations through photography, for example, Notting Hill Carnival in London, as well as protests, the latter as the means to raise a voice and express political standpoint.

Following seven years in the UK, I have decided that my next project will aim to document a ‘corporate’ human. I’ll start with questioning the value of having dedicated over 40,000 hours of my life to the corporate, while also searching for stories, feelings and thoughts of a corporate human. All the above with a purpose to create literature that includes images and written text. This poetic literature will narrate and generate dialectics about a corporate human. It will also aim at creating account to better understand a consumerist world we are living in and, if we’re lucky, to find some outlets that would enable us to act kinder.

I deem relevant to rethink what value a corporate human represents for the rest of the society. But also, fundamentally, in this moment of an apparent global turning point, to reflect on where and how we have arrived here and analyse the consequences of our actions: my invitation is to rethink what our mission as corporate humans is, beyond its strictly economic meaning. What is our responsibility as privileged individuals? And, how do we revalue and scrutinise our integrity, asking ethical and moral questions.