+December 03, 2020
Photography is a never ending journey where the photographers have to find themselves in their work. Those immerging themselves enough, find out sooner or later that photography (as in every other discipline) asks not only for your technical neatness, but for your conceptual baggage. Everyone willing to have a voice through the lens has a tacit non-verbal agreement with the visual community to find something worth telling, avoiding being part of the ephemeral production of soulless images.
Visual identity. Two words, fourteen letters that may take years to achieve. Photography is just another medium to understand how the world works. We create a survival strategy to life ́s miscellaneous setbacks, and if luck is on the way, maybe find ourselves. Creating a visual identity is not just a matter of aesthetic or concept, it is the combination of the positive and negative space of the whole spectrum of decisions. The blending of what's chosen to be in, and what's discarded and left aside. Everything matters, nothing matters, light matters, angles, expressions, lines, tensions, and loose spots. That kaleidoscopic cocktail of experiences translates into the projection of our essence and results in a photograph.
An amazing afro-Ecuadorian photographer has been preparing her own photographic cocktail with a mixture of culture, history, diversity, frankness, and soul. Katherin Guerrero has a visual identity that she describes as “authentic and representational”, which could not be more true. Her images show not only freshness, but a disinterest in the presumption. They are true not only to the faces of her portraiture, but to her own history and culture. Guerrero encountered her identity in photography through her origins, “ to discover magnificent stories about how we got to this little country in the middle of the world, and why we are called afro-Ecuadorians, was one of the things that inspired me to create photographs”. Identity comes from magnifying and mincing the context that has always been around, to look at the ordinary and deconstruct its nuances. In the end, identity means creating connections, like neurons with axons, creating new tracks for different understandings. It all starts with a localized voice, a mind speaking from a specific time and space that configures the raw sculpture of a contribution.
There is no specific way to find a visual identity, but the core of each storyteller is at the start of that discovery. That way the creative current flows from the historic center of the photographer, through a chosen medium towards a connection with the outdoors, as Guerrera herself would express: “I have learned to connect emotionally with the people posing for my lens, to tell my stories through their faces”. To be able to talk from our core, transparency must be the flag of all manifestations. Identity comes from honesty towards ourselves and others, the gracious and patient process of understanding our place in this world. Even if it means the unpleasant acquaintance with the nasty, unbearable, raw, shameful, dirty, weird fragments of us. Being able to be vulnerable is part of self-discovery.