Toward the end of high school I was intensely drawn to two crafts: writing and photography. My passion for both crafts has only grown deeper and stronger over the years. My goal is to keep writing till my fingers fall off and to keep photographing till I'm too old and blind to see through the viewfinder. In the in between times I'll keep teaching and learning and growing.
By training and education I'm a teacher and an educational technologist; I hold a Master's degree in Educational Technology. You can read more about my professional (e-Learning/LMS/teaching) life over here. I'm one of those oddballs who believes the difference between art and technology is a very thin veil; one could argue that art and technology are just different forms of τέχνη along a very vast continuum of crafts common to humans.
In many ways you could call me a wandering teacher who photographs and writes on the side, but that would only be partially correct.
I hope my work can speak for itself. Rather than host my varied interests on multiple websites I use this as my central hub; my time and my sanity will thank me later for it. I figure if you get bored with my photographs you can always pick up one of my novels or read through my thoughts on educational technology.
However, since most of you are here for my photographs or my reviews the rest below is mainly about my thoughts on why I create my photographs.
Classic. That's the one word that I hope best describes my photographic work. Whether it's a classic theme, or a classic look, or a classic approach, capturing the timelessness of the moment, the essence, the beauty, the fleeting look, the "decisive moment" of a given scene is how I've always approached the craft. I have been inspired over the years by several photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson (also here), Rodney Smith and Kim Anderson (aka Bertram Bahner); there are others, but these three have such a simplicity to their work that I am always surprised by how they see the world and how they created photographs to share their vision of it.
I've been taking pictures for a long time; it's only recently that my approach has changed to actually creating them. There is a big difference between the two approaches and my portraits should be testimony to the more creative approach.
There's a photo in my parents' basement of me leafing through a Yashica SLR manual when I was 8. The camera I was reading about belonged to my grandpa. I guess you could say photography runs in the family. Back then I had no idea that this art, this craft, this tool would become such a large part of my life.
My parents bought me my first "serious" camera during my senior year of high school, and what a sacrifice that was in those days, considering my folks thought this would be but a passing hobby. Just like my writing it wasn't, and it still isn't.
I'm glad my parents took a risk in my interest because it's allowed me to share with others a small sliver of my vision of our place in this world. It's a vision that I'm continually shaping and honing.
My first "serious" camera was a Nikon FM--it lasted me a good number of years before the foam went bad and jammed up the film lever. Rather than trash it I let it go out in style by freezing it, burning it, and keeping it as a decoration for my bookshelf. In many ways it's a reminder of where I started, where I am, and where I'm going with what my wife calls my obsession.
My FM frozen in ice for this inspired photo.
Photography is such a vast and wondrous sphere that to know everything about it would be a form of contentful madness!
I love to travel, as should be apparent from my work. While travel photography is something I really enjoy, I much prefer taking pictures of bees and children, though never both at the same time!
Why those two? Because both of them bring me back (and I hope you as well) to the awe and wonder we once owned, that amazement of catching a glimpse of resplendent majesty in the simplest of things, a smile, a twinkling eye, a flying bee covered in pollen, a purple sky with flying birds to close the day. To my mind children and bees demonstrate God's little extravagances, those beautiful, wild, untamed things that few adults remember they once owned--the amazement, the awe, the wonder, the surprise of discovering the world around them.
I know, I know, bees don't talk, and they don't have any expressions to speak of. But it's not so much the bees themselves, but capturing them in environments, in scenes, and at angles that few have ever seen that brings people back to that awe, that wonder, that surprise, and that amazement they once had as children.
Most people think I'm nuts getting my hands so close to those hard-working Antophilas (bees). I think they're right. So why would I risk life and limb to capture these near automatons? It's fun and challenging to take pictures of them, and they usually calm down once they know you're not a threat, which often leads to some great photos of the little fellows, photos that make me smile when people stare in awe, in wonder, in amazement, as though they're discovering something in the world for the first time. It's a great feeling.
Children, on the other hand, readily bring us back to those things we lose as adults, because in them we see as we once were and as we once saw. We see the world anew and begin to understand our role in protecting them and the world and the future they are to inherit. In many ways this is why Bertram Bahner is one photographer whose work I always admire; there is in it a reflection of the innocence we lose as we grow older, a reflection of a hope to come.
I've always believed that a great picture should always tell a story, either about a place, a person, an event, an idea, or an object. A story is what connects people, regardless of culture. It is what allows people from different walks of life to realize that no matter how big or small, not matter how high or low, we all share a common destiny, a common thread in the past, and a common ground to learn from each other. Stories do that for all people, in all cultures.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy my novels, my research, and, of course, my photographs.
Jose S. Velasquez