Cary Benbow (CB): What compels you to make the images you create, and why did you become a photographer?
Diego Romo (DR): From a very young age I’ve always been fascinated with documentation and a constant desire for permanence. Majority of my childhood was spent traveling and I never really experienced the feeling that I belonged to one particular place. When I first started photographing it was a merely innocent way for myself to archive my existence to form belonging for wherever I was, or a desire to make a particular instant more interesting. Photography allowed me to create permanence but also the ability to create a narrative that doesn’t exist through a photograph. When I was introduced to photography as art, I began to view the camera as an investigative tool for myself and my surroundings, furthering this notion of the photograph as documentation for something that doesn’t exist. Obscuring memories through photography has proved to be a more truthful way in understanding my personal experiences and the experiences of those surrounding me.
CB: Please explain the idea behind your images in the Family exhibition? How do they relate to your other projects, or how is it significantly different?
DR: The images within this series, Lo Que Construimos, function as the collective narrative for my family. Found imagery has become a process of portraying my family and the creation of our collective memory. I look for my identity within found photographs that not only reflect my feelings, but allow me to imaginatively create memories or instances of my own. I am creating a narrative for my family by mixing found images with images of my childhood. Creating tension by manipulating these images forces traces of memory to be left behind or altered. When I started Lo Que Construimos, the series was somewhat different from my other projects mainly because I was not photographing. Manipulating my personal imagery with found imagery allowed me to really connect with the images and thoroughly examine the new narrative I was creating. It’s been interesting to see how the manipulation enhances certain memories and feelings by furthering the meaning of the image.
All of the work within Lo Que Construimos is somewhat similar to the majority of the work I do primarily because it revolves around similar themes of identity and authenticity. As my work has progressed I have become increasingly more interested in challenging traditional image making by experimenting in new ways in order to create images. I find this experimentation has allowed for my work, particularly this series to really expand and push the manipulated narrative.
Nunca Nos Acostumbremos
CB: In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
DR: I’m really interested in work that is both aesthetically pleasing and purposeful because both factors allow for a body of work to expand and evolve. Within my work it is really important for me to have both these factors because it allows for the viewer to really analyze the image and derive meaning. Content or meaning is always pushing the visuals of any work and heightens the experience. Experiencing photographs that have purpose are the ones that always challenge new perspectives and are remembered by the viewers.
CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?
DR: Most of the ideas and inspirations for my photography, specifically with this series, comes from personal experience or memories. Although my work is primarily personal, it is important for me to make the work as universal as possible and allow it be relatable to the viewer. Found imagery and manipulation has allowed for my work to become more relatable and drive the future expansion of my work.
Partir De Mi
CB: Are the people in your images for this exhibition your own family, or did you submit these because they fit the broader theme of Family?
DR: The people within the images are both my family and strangers. When choosing what images I will use, I tend to look for images that have punctum or create an emotional response from me. Usually the images are a reminder of a specific memory or are so intimate that I become genuinely curious of the contents within the image. I begin to think about the original meaning of the photograph and how using manipulation will completely alter any original personal meaning. The photographs lost their intended meaning because the viewer is no longer placing meaning on them, allowing me to create a new narrative and memory to fade.
CB: Who are your photography inspirations?
DR: My two biggest inspirations for this series has been Larry Sultan and Geoffrey Batchen. Larry Sultans Pictures From Home were a definite influence in my work because of how incredibly intimate and beautiful the images are. Experiencing how touching and effortless the photographs are served as perfect examples for inspiration within my own work. I was introduced to Geoffrey Batchen’s work within school when wanting to further my understanding of the role photography played as memory. Batchen definitely helped me develop a new understanding and appreciation for photography and influenced my decision when using found imagery.
CB: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?
DR: I would describe my work as a deconstruction of memory that focuses on the construction of past and present through an examination of culture where authenticity is altered. The images are meant to create a curiosity or tension when viewing them allowing for the viewer to project themselves within the images.
To view more work by Diego Romo, visit his website at www.diegoromo.com
Originally published at F-Stop Magazine.