This week we are extremely pleased to feature Jeanette Vazquez in our interview segment of “Streets Ahead.”
I was really happy when Jeanette agreed to do this interview… because I’ve been following her photography for several months now. And what I admire most about her work is that, at first glance, I think I am seeing just a simple ordinary candid shot. But when I pause and look more closely. I inevitably find myself discovering more layers. Jeanette is clearly an artist who relies on her eyes, emotional connections and instincts to dictate her artistic decisions… not words or “stories.”
We hope you enjoy her interview. And after reading this segment, we recommend that you visit her Flickr Photo Stream. Jeanette Vazquez is definitely a NYC photographer to keep on your radar….
Please share a little bit about yourself…
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Self Portrait”
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Have you always been interested in photography? Are you (or have you been) involved in any other art medium… such as painting, sculpture, writing, music?
I was born, and grew up, in Northern New Jersey, right across the river… from a Cuban background. Being the youngest, having two older brothers, I always found creative ways to have my own playtime at home and a Polaroid camera was always in hand. My background profession has always been in the medical field which requires no creativity at all, hence my urges to go out and capture images all around, via mobile or my DSLR. I took a photography course through NY Institute of Photography to ‘assist’ me in understanding my camera and take a hands-on class through The Art of Intuitive Photography which has taught me a lot, mainly that it’s not about ‘point and shoot’, but rather feel your subject.
Which mobile device do you use?
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Taxi”
Jeanette: I loved the edginess of the subject ..her hair, dressed all in black and appeared like a New Yorker, heading in a cab.
Which mobile device do you use to take (and process) your photographs?
I started taking mobile photographs when I got my first iPhone last year and I now switched over to a Samsung Galaxy S4. What I do is, I always carry my iPhone with me, still use it to take pictures along with my Galaxy, and then process my photos using my iPad. Yes, I carry two mobile devices. I have to laugh at that.
How did it all start?
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Prince Street”
Jeanette: An older man, sitting at the doorstep of a gallery, reading a newspaper (a rarity).
How did you get involved in mobile street photography? And is this a genre that you predominantly focus on in your work?
As the natural introvert that I am, I used to be petrified to capture strangers on the street but at the same time it’s something that I wanted to do and because I love street photography. I naturally became confident and care-free as I started taking pictures. Yes, sometimes I wake up feeling like when I first started, but time and practice helps you get through that hump.
Street Photography Ethics…
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Chinatown”
Jeanette: Young girl eating at a local Chinese eatery. I didn’t notice her expression until I uploaded this image and I love her surprised look.
There is a general question among some people about the morals and ethics of taking pictures of strangers in a public environment. Many think that this is an infringement of an individual’s rights and privacy. What are your thoughts on this? Has the question about “privacy” been an issue for you in your work? Have you had any negative experiences taking street photographs in your home country or whilst traveling abroad? How did you handle them?
I was taught if I wanted to photograph someone I found interesting to just ask, it doesn’t hurt. I was only turned down once when I asked a girl who was from another country if I could photograph her and she told me she was quite shy, and I respected her decision and thanked her and walked away. My shots are usually candid, I would never make it obvious I’m trying to catch someone. Though I have found later, as I’m going through my pictures, that some people have looked straight at me.
Personal guidelines while in the streets…
Do you have any rules in place when you are on the street photographing? For example: are there certain “things” or situations that you personally feel are “off limits” in your photography? Can you explain why?
I wouldn’t photograph anyone disabled out of respect.
Personal preferences while on a photo shoot…
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Love”
Jeanette: An older couple, holding hands, and best of all he’s carrying her shopping bag. This exuded love.
What kind of situations, characters, and/or environments appeal to you? Why?
My favorite all-time place to take pictures is in New York City (mainly in the lower east side) and the reason is because it’s a colorful place, it’s lively and I LOVE street-art. I also love taking pictures inside the subways, a place where so many different backgrounds are gathered in such close proximity.
Women’s perspective in street photography…
Do you think that women bring to photography, especially street photography, a certain perspective that is not necessarily shared by many male photographers? If so, can you elaborate on your thoughts?
I don’t think there is a difference in men/women street photographers. I don’t necessarily think that we share a different perspective and, in fact, I am inspired by many men street photographers. It’s all about the intuitive approach on your image, regardless of your gender.
Women street photographers who have influenced you…
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Image 957: Madmen”
Jeanette: Two men, in a subway, one smoking an electronic cigarette, I just pictured the tv show MadMen.
Are there any women street photographers/photo journalists who have inspired you in your work? If so, who are they? And what inspires you about their work?
The obvious Vivien Maier..and the fact that she wasn’t a “known” photographer is what moves me the most. She truly is an inspiration as is Martha Cooper, a photojournalist, who photographed graffiti during the 70s and 80s and is well-known in the lower east side culture.
Post processing images…
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Image 1364: MoMA”
Jeanette: I love capturing museum shots, especially when there is admiration to a work of art.
What are your thoughts on post-processing mobile street images? Do you post process your own images? Can you share with us an example of your workflow process?
I must admit that part of the fun in my image capturing is processing my images. I love loading them onto my iPad and observing and seeing what moves me about the images, if either color or black/white gives them more of a storyline. My apps to post-process my mobile images are usually iPhoto, Noir, KitCam, VSCO Cam and sometimes MonoVu.
Artistic goals and aspirations
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Image 1713: A Story Unfolds”
Jeanette: I loved her shoes, as I was admiring them from the escalator I snapped a picture, then when I turned into b/w with vignetting it added a sort of mystery.
What are your artistic goals and aspirations?
I recently landed on time that I can now focus on what I love… and that’s photography, So I’m currently working on creating my own site and hope to capture more people!
Social Media Platforms…
Where do you show your work? What social networks are you on? On which platforms are you most involved?
Flickr and Facebook are where I mainly post my images. Some have been on EyeEm and Instagram, but going onto those sites daily was a bit time consuming for me. Flickr I do often, I love the groups and viewing some pretty amazing talent, especially ones show cased on this group. I also had some images of mine at the SoHo Digital Art Gallery through the Art of Intuitive Photography which was a juried show.
© Jeanette Vazquez, “Image 34”
Jeanette: I loved her style, how she looked a bit lost.
Do you have any mobile street photography tips or tricks that you’d like to share with us?
Don’t ever stop capturing, don’t ever walk by or have second thoughts on what catches your eye, and most of all look confident.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Yes, JQ I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, you made my day when I read your email! A huge thank you!!
Note from jq: And Jeanette…. I couldn’t stop smiling when I received your note accepting our invitation. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you.
Note from Joanne – And I couldn’t stop smiling when I viewed these wonderful images and read this completed interview – thank you both so much – it’s such an inspiring read and one that I revere – thank you.