Image © Carlos Alejandro
First Place – Editorial
ASMP: What was your inspiration for taking this photo?
Carlos Alejandro: The Poets Laureate of the state of Delaware, Twins, Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, are a very different kind of Poet Laureate. Their mission: To awaken the revolutionary spirits buried deep within the souls of an oppressed people.The are part poets, part performance artists. The urgent veracity of their words and expressions of ideas resonated with me. I wanted to give them the stripped down honesty of one light, BW, and to portray that they are twins in one image.
ASMP: What type of setting do you prefer?
CA: The setting is really determined by the idea/portrait that needs to be expressed. I love the freewheeling accidental light and circumstances of moments in uncontrolled daylight, but I also love the control of a studio and reflectors and choosing an f/stop based on the image.
ASMP: Is there anything unique about your style or approach?
CA: My style or approach is based on thoughtful representation of the person or persona. I spent a few days with Marie Cosindas, a Polaroid artist, in the time before digital images. I learned from her how to involve the subject in the process, rather than impose my vision on them. I confer and concur and ask them to trust me with their image and when they see how it progresses, they are almost always more than willing to give me the chance to succeed with them. A portrait can be many things. Most times it involves trust.
ASMP: What type of lighting did you use for this image or series?
CA: This is one light and one reflector. A Swiss approach to lighting. A large Chimera box with Broncolor lights. Nick Vedros was an influence from the days when he made images for Kodak and their Elite BW paper.
ASMP: How long have you been shooting this type of photography?
CA: 30 years. I never tire of photographing subjects who will go with me to get an honest portrait.
ASMP: What other photographers’ or artists’ work inspires you?
CA: I am not only a portrait photographer, but from that world my greatest inspirations are Karsh, Newman, Avedon, Albert Watson, Irving Penn.
ASMP: When did you join ASMP and what do you find most valuable about your membership?
CA: I joined in 1990. ASMP’s advocacy for rights and best practices.
ASMP: What is the more important relationship you’ve formed through your ASMP membership?
CA: The most important relationship I’ve formed is not with a person, but with the community. I know I can call any ASMP member and get recommendations or advice about shooting in unknown parts of the country. I’ve had that happen many times both having people call and calling on the community.
ASMP: What kind of gear do you use?
CA: I use Nikon D850, D810, Leica M10 with a range of 1960s glass. I recently sold a Mamiya and the Leaf Aptus 80 back because I have become more about travel and location than studio. Lightroom and Capture One are also fundamentally important. I still have a darkroom that I now use to make palladium prints via digital internegatives.