Saturday, November 8, 2014

Elizabeth Avedon Castell Photography Exhibition/Competition -NEXT - Ruben Natal San Miguel winner -L'Oeil de la Photographie Magazine Interview

'' Lady Money Sings The Blues'' 2011, Harlem, NYC
Ruben Natal-San Miguel- Third Place Winner

New York City-based photographer, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, also holds a Bachelor and Master Degree in Architecture from Boston Architectural College and Finance and Business Administration from Boston University. His photography has been shown internationally, and published in The Atlantic, Aperture, Daily News and Urban Italy Magazine; and won the Photo District News (PDN Magazine) Portrait Competition. I am a fan of his bold, authentic images from the streets of Harlem, which Natal-San Miguel said, “captures the last vestiges of a rich street culture before the imminent gentrification in Harlem."
EA: Is your image, Lady Money Sings The Blues, 2011 Harlem, NYC,part of an ongoing series?
RNSM: Yes, it is part of a 10-year project called NYC: Concrete Jungleof work in all 5 Boroughs of NYC.
EA: Can you tell us something about the experience of shooting this image? What captured your attention to take this photograph?  
RNSM: The subject of the photograph is Billie Jean, a longtime Harlem resident and Cotton Club Jazz singer. Her look and demeanor evokes that old NYC style, presence, endurance, perseverance and uniqueness that, due to the aggressive gentrification keeps disappearing from the city's street culture. I took several photos of her, but this one was my favorite, just at the precise moment she was writing her phone number for me. There was something very soulful, vulnerable and genuine about the moment.   
EA:  How did you originally get involved in photography?
RNSM: I am 100% self-taught. I did not attend college for Photography. I am a trained Architect and learned photography by collecting it, reading and studying about it, selling and curating exhibitions. My trained eye in design always helps me to compose the photographs in my head.
EA: Is there a photography icon you met, would like to meet, or wish you had met, that has influenced or inspired you? 
RNSM: Susan Meiselas, who I had the honor to interview for the 2009 Lucie Awards. A few months later she approached me and I worked with her as a collaborator on a Flag Project that a museum in Paris, France commissioned. I photographed with her in the Bronx, Harlem and the Lower East Side. The final was a photo and video presentation in which my voice explains the sentiments behind the Puerto Rican Flag and why there is a strong fervor and love about it.
EA: Apart from developing a great body of work, what are your objectives; what are you working on NEXT?
RNSM: I started a new project that has to do with how we tend to miss the great architecture of NYC by not looking up. It will address the fact that since we live in such fast pace life with  our faces  buried in our phones, we pass by every day the most majestic architecture, and hope to bring attention to it.

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