Shutterbug/Draughtsman | Carlos Byron

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Artist Statement by Carlos Byron

As an artist/photographer, I continue to examine my vision and my approach and search out interesting subject matter for my photography as well as in other mediums of interest. I have not rejected my foundational roots in painting and drawing, but I apply them in photographing subjects and composition design.

Today, the areas that appeal to me fall into these categories: street photography in large cities—particularly the Chinatowns in Boston and New York City, travel photography (I have visited Cuba twice), historical areas of Newport RI, and studies of crowds, basically any large gatherings, no matter the event. I currently am working on a study of Martha's Vineyard, focusing on the towns of Oak Bluffs, and Aquinnah. Additionally, I am also interested in photographing performing artists, primarily dance, dancers, and actors.

 


Artist Bio

Over the past 50 years I worked as an illustrator, portraitist, calligrapher, art director and art teacher. In Brooklyn, NYC, to Boston, I worked as an executive art director in a screen print company, printing novelty T-shirts at Great American Screen Design Ltd. My freelancing includes illustration in magazines (Black Enterprise, National Review, USA TODAY, Freedomway), medical illustration for McGraw Hill, Lippincott and Son, Payne Whitney Clinic and the Bronx Zoo, to name a few.

From my calligraphy practice, some selected assignments were: Black Enterprise Magazine, Phoenix Halfway House, Daytop Village Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation, The American Bible Society, CUNI diplomas and honor rolls, New York Board of Education, Liberty Street Capital Corporation, Roxbury Multi-service Center, Museum El Barrios, and the Audubon Society.

Click here for Carlos Byron's resume.


 

Pandemic Statement & Interview

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted my life and my work.

Logistically and financially the pandemic has presented many difficulties. It affected delivery of supplies and equipment I had purchased in January. When they arrived from Japan, they were quarantined in a California port for more than three months. I had purchased a Pentax 6x7 medium format camera and received the damaged camera (in its packaging) in April 2020. My deep suspicion is that the damage occurred either in the shipping container or the transfer dockside. I had to send it to KEH in New York City for repair and the extra cost was just one more burdensome inconvenience.

Emotionally though, this pandemic has been devastating. I am a street photographer, and the pandemic poses huge problems as it limits access to my chosen subject matter. During the nationwide quarantine and beyond, traveling outside of Boston continues to be risky. My 2020 plans included travel to New York City and Brooklyn to photograph my old neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Greenwich Village, and Harlem. This adventure would’ve also included portraits of artists and friends. But because I don’t drive and won’t travel by Amtrak or bus, that project will have to wait.

It hasn’t been all bad. I was able to go to Martha’s Vineyard and Newport, RI to do some photographing with my wife, but it’s not the same. Now I am forced to reorganize my studio and finish my old drawings.

My deep passion is on hold until who knows when.

October 9, 2020 Interview by Violence Transformed:

VT: What were the effects of the pandemic on your work as a still photographer?

CB: I was interested in showing and examining loneliness and isolation. I took photographs mostly in black and white, but some work also has a pop of color. I didn’t completely stay away from color, but a lot of the work has an overall monochromatic feel to the image.

VT: What were any special techniques you used?

CB: I used a shooting technique that goes under a couple of names, but I think the term that best describes it is fractured light. Basically, I looked for subjects that were in dark shadow and only illuminated randomly with bright sunlight. The effect serves to create a moody environment.

VT: What kind of photographic gear did you employ?

CB: My approach during the pandemic was to keep in my mind that it is important to carry a camera as a street photographer. I own both rangefinders and DSLRs. For the vacation shots in Martha’s Vineyard, I brought two cameras, a Leica M9M, with a 50mm F2 Summicron lens and a Nikon DSLR 7200 with a Zeiss Planar T 50mm f1.4. When I need to walk in the streets of Boston, I carry a Sony RX1 35mm. I prefer manual focusing and exposure control.

VT: What was your approach to photographing your subject?

CB: Keep in mind that we are in the age of COVID-19, and people are wearing masks and self- isolating, so a lot of areas where I normally would find crowds were very empty. That only intensified the subject matter for me. I still found stories on local beaches, in protests, and in the stillness of buildings and graveyards. My wife is in a lot of my photos too!