Walking Between Boundaries


Every year the Colombian Consulate in Paris makes a Visual Art Contest for all the Colombian artists resident in France, the idea is to help promote the artists in the french art environment.

I have participated twice and fortunately both I have been one of the winners, but this year was very special because the topic of the contest was the borders and diaspora, how we as artists chose by our own decision the exile to go to a different country and develop our art, far away from our physical, cultural and historical borders.

I decided to participate with a series related to my returning to street photography. Last year with the intention to go back into my roots to find my own visual voice, I decided to explore again the type of photography that started me on this art and so I went back to the streets. Every week since February 2015, I hit the streets at least twice a week and walk around Paris in that search for my internal voice.

The topic of the contest was very related to my own internal artistic process of last year, so I went through all the pictures of this period, looking for links with the diaspora and the crossing of borders and what I decided to submit were the following images, each one also related to a phrase which at the end are 2 paragraphs explaining about the visual introspection that I`ve started since 2015.

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“Stepping out of my door into the streets feels like diving into a dim river,

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I never know what I´m going to find under the mighty waters of concrete,

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light is the beacon that guides my walks around Paris,

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my eyes are the compass to lead my way.

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After one year scouting the streets, I have come to know the city of lights,

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I have seen it under its skin, I have seen its real life, I have seen its ordinary days,

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but at the same time I have seen myself, reflected in these pictures,

Paris People

And I have understood that this search is not only about Paris.”

The series is going to be exposed at the Colombian Consulate in Paris until the next June 7th 2016, if you want to see it, you´re welcome to come during the office schedules.

Cheers!

The Magnetic Energy of Actress Madeleine Pougatch


Madeleine Pougatch

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I meet Madeleine for the fist time on a cloudy and cold day at the end of 2015, we met at the metro station Hotel de Ville exit of rue de Rivoli and immediately we headed towards a cafe bar three blocks from there. We sat down in one of those small tables with a typical red couch in one of the sides and in the other a normal chair, I let her pick the side and she sits in the couch. The waiter arrives, she orders a strong cocktail, strong as her personality and right away, I started to be bombarded by all that avalanche of energy that she emanates, specially through her big emerald color eyes.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Madeleine is an actress by choice and by passion, since she was a 3-year-old child she was always looking where was a camera to stand in front of it, she had this strong desire to live a life in front of the lens. she almost felted like a jealousy of the actors that she was watching on the movies. Ever since, she used to create plays with her brothers and sisters  where she was always acting, but also directing and disguising them to personify each of the characters.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When the moment to decide about her professional career arrived, acting couldn´t be an option since her family was not related to the field and she didn´t know anybody in that world, so she decided to do a bachelor in Hospitality Management. Nevertheless, the first day of class when the teacher asked her what she wanted to do after the school, rather than answering she wanted to be an entrepreneur or a business woman, she said “I want to be an actress and singer”, because she also uses of her sexy  hoarse voice to sign, actually in this moment she’s working a piece of music with Jerome Goldet who is the bassist of Mathieu Chedid, et  Vanessa Paradis.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

She always knew her passion was acting and ones she finished her bachelor, she decided to go full-time into the search of her real dream, as she says “There is just one life, I didn’t want to have regrets and so I decided to go deeply on it”. It was only until she was 22 years old that she started to study theater at Cours Simon . Since then things have been evolving as an actress, last week for example, she was at St. Petersburg presenting her first main role in an independent film called “Particulier à Particulier”, which was first presented in Paris in an independent festival. The film is completely filled by her character and as she says “if you don’t like me as an actress, you’re not going to like the film.”

This time we met at a typical crepes restaurant by the Canal St. Martin called Lulu La Nantaise, small and cozy ambiance, with tables that are as big as the scope of your own breath, she ordered a Salmon crepe and in my side I got a chicken cheese and honey mustard one. But of course, when we were ordering the drinks, Madeleine  recommended me to try the cider, which is a french apple wine, we got a jar for the two of us. Of course I have to thanks her because the recommendation was great, it was the best starter to warm up our tiny table and our shooting.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The food arrived, we started to eat and went deeply in a conversation about her life and she made me understand that the fascination she has for acting is because it allows her to live all the stories she can’t in real life, as she said “if I would do in real life, what I do in the scene, I would become completely crazy: killing a baby, being a lawyer, being a crazy mother in law, etc. As an actress, I can do all those things which I have the desire to do a little bit, but in real life I can’t. At the end, what I love of acting is that it makes me vibrate and there is no other thing in life that can make me feel like that”

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Right now, she also working mainly in two projects: a role in a french TV show called “Joséphine Ange Gardien” of TF1, she will be playing a young 16th years old girl during the 60´s, who got pregnant and has to abandon her baby.  The second project, is a role in a film where she had to work in the snow, up in the mountains with a beautiful sled dog, shooting in a T-shirt under the cold winter and doing scenes where she had to put her feet and arms completely inside the snow.  She’s also working in a project for a group of 30 students inspired in Maurice Pialat, at the same time she will be filming for a director of the école de la cité  who wrote a film inspired on her as actress, she says to inspire someone to create a story is “The grail of any actor”

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, we were eating and in between the sounds of the cutlery hitting the plates and the noise of the talks of the tiny tables besides us, I asked her which would be her dream roll? She looks up and after a fraction of a second without any shadow of a doubt she says: “I would like to represent Charlotte Corday, the noble girl who killed the french revolution leader Jean-Paul Marat inside his own house while taking a bath. She was sentenced to the guillotine dressed in a red which represented the betrayers who had killed a representative of the people. But, in general I would like to do different roles, change from one genre to the other, from comedy, to drama, to action, to history, etc” She looks down to her plate and continues eating.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

We finished our lunch and with the stomach full and the soul warmed up by the cider, we went out to hit the streets of this neighborhood by the Canal St. Martin, but wait! she says, before I have to smoke a cigarette. The area of Canal St. Martin is one of the places which Madeleine likes the most in Paris, she says: “it is a very Parisian area, with a huge population of young people and with an immense diversity of places for the social live: bars ,restaurants, cafes, brasseries and of course the sidewalks of the canal which become a picnic area during the spring and summer” and since I like construct the visual stories around something attached to my guests, we went there to do our shoot.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

To finish I just have to say that while I´m writing finishing to write this post, I´m watching live on Internet the visit of Barack Obama to Cuba, the fist visit of president from United States in more than 50 years, at the same time is Monday of Eastern and it is also Full moon … too many coincidences for one day and I can predict that is because also with Madeleine we are being witness of the birth of a new star.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

So, here is the photo story about my walk with her, a very passionate actress that I´m sure will reach all her goals and will delight us with her talent and explosive energy through the screen for many years.

Cheers!

El Contragolpe Francés a los Ataques Terroristas.


Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

ENGLISH VERSION

El aislamiento de las grandes capitales como París del ruido de las atrocidades que están sucediendo en todo el mundo crea una sensación de estar fuera de la realidad de nuestro planeta, sin embargo la historia siempre se encarga de golpearnos en la cara y atornillarnos los pies a la tierra, haciéndonos reaccionar y entender que ya no somos intocables en ningún lugar, que estamos viviendo un momento histórico de la humanidad y que debemos abrir los ojos para despertar a la cruda realidad.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

El 13 de noviembre de 2015 en París fue para mí exactamente uno de esos momentos que llegaron para sacudirme el alma y hacerme entender el momento que estamos viviendo hoy en el mundo. Un día después de los ataques terroristas en París, decidí salir a la calle con mi cámara, para visitar los lugares donde ocurrieron los ataques, sumergiéndome en las multitudes, derritiendo mi alma con el pueblo de París en medio de sus reacciones a este trágico evento para tratar de capturar en imágenes todo lo que estaba viendo durante los 5 días siguientes a los ataques.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Soy un inmigrante en este país, he estado viviendo aquí desde hace 3 años y todavía hay muchas cosas que aprender y entender de la cultura francesa, pero estos 5 días en las calles, viviendo entre la gente, sintiendo su energía, escuchando sus conversaciones, observándolos, oliendo la tragedia y tocando la realidad con mis dedos me han enseñado más que nunca  sobre ellos y sobre la vida desde que pise por primera vez este país.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all right reserved.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved

Caminé por todos los lugares de los ataques: Le Bataclan, Le Petite Cambodge, Le Carrillon, La rue de la Fontaine au Roi y La Place de la République (que es el principal punto de encuentro de los Parisinos para hacer protestas) y sentí el denso jarabe de la tristeza deslizarse directamente en mi alma, difundiendo su sabor amargo de una persona a otra en completo silencio, un silencio que hablaba a través de los ojos de cada persona en voz alta, un silencio de tristeza, pero al mismo tiempo, un silencio de coraje porque los Parisinos no tienen miedo de estos bárbaros que quieren eliminar la palabra libertad como uno de los valores fundamentales de la nación Francesa. Fue muy conmovedor, especialmente porque yo personalmente he estado al menos una vez en todos los lugares donde ocurrieron los ataques tomando una cerveza, un café o comiendo con amigos, así que no podía dejar de pensar: podría haber sido yo!

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Una de las cosas que me ha sorprendido de los franceses durante todos estos días, es la forma en que han reaccionado a los ataques en general, en vez de sentir miedo y permanecer encerrados en sus lugares, han estado en las calles, visitando los lugares de los ataques, haciendo una peregrinación de luto para acompañar a sus compatriotas, han salido a las terrazas de los restaurantes a tomar un café o cenar con sus amigos, se han estado reuniendo para protestar y cantar canciones de libertad y nacionalismo francés, en resumen han mantenido viva su vida cotidiana Parisina, llena de actividad en las calles. Su reacción parece representar muy bien la frase de Mahatma Gandhi: “Cuando hay una tormenta, los pájaros se esconden y las águilas vuelan más alto”, supongo que es el legado de siglos que esta ciudad tiene y que está incluso escrito en su escudo de armas: “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur“, que significa “Sacudida pero nunca hundida”.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Los ataques fueron una amenaza directa contra el valor de la libertad que los Franceses han promulgado y protegido desde la revolución francesa, un valor que han entendido como la piedra angular de su sociedad, de seguro que no hay mejor cultura en el mundo que la francesa para entender de manera holística cuál es el significado de la palabra Libertad. Pero estos terroristas parecen no entender eso y al hacer este tipo de ataques, en lugar de enviar un mensaje de miedo y sumisión, lo que están logrando es crear una unión más fuerte de los franceses en su contra, una unión que no tiene miedo en absoluto y lo más importante una unión que está alimentada por los jóvenes, las nuevas generaciones que fueron las principales víctimas del 13 de noviembre, una unión que está articulada entre sí por el profundo deseo de defender esa palabra Libertad.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Otra cosa que me ha impresionado de los franceses, es su cultura de debate y especialmente en momentos de crisis como éste. Al llegar a los lugares relacionados con los atentados como Le BataclanLa Place de la République, uno se encuentra durante todo el día grupos de personas que se reúnen para debatir, no sobre lo que pasó, sino sobre lo que tienen que hacer ahora para cambiar o superar esta situación.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Los Franceses aman profundamente debatir, con las ideas, con criterios y un debate entre dos personas puede evolucionar fácilmente a una gran multitud de 20 o 30, donde la palabra de cada persona que quiere hablar es escuchada y respetada, y al mismo tiempo refutada por los que no están de acuerdo dentro de un ambiente respetuoso. He visto en esos debates personas de diferentes religiones, estatus sociales, color de piel o nivel de educación intercambiando sus puntos de vista y haciendo un debate productivo para avanzar hacia ideas y acciones concretas. Es la muestra de la evolución de una sociedad en donde se aceptan las diferencias y estas pueden vivir juntas, una idea que es completamente opuesta a la idea de los terroristas de una sociedad donde sólo pueda existir una manera de pensar y de vivir.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

El sabor que me queda en el corazón, la mente y el alma después de tantos días de estar en medio de la gente y los lugares de los ataques es un sabor agridulce, una mezcla entre la tristeza profunda, la inmensa valentía y la decisión del pueblo francés para mostrar que no tienen miedo y que van a luchar por su libertad hasta el final , van a luchar por seguir viviendo su vida cotidiana sin restricciones, lo cual yo entiendo como el primer contragolpe que el pueblo francés le ha dado a los terroristas. No sé lo que va a pasar a continuación, de lo que si estoy muy seguro es que la semilla de un cambio en la sociedad francesa se ha sembrado el pasado 13 de noviembre y seguirá creciendo grande,  alimentada por la valentía y la libertad de esta sociedad.

Aquí están las imágenes que hice en todos estos 5 días, espero que les ayuden a entender un poco lo que yo sentí.

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Cheers!

 

The French Kickback to the Terrorist Attacks.


Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

SPANISH VERSION

The isolation of the big capitals like Paris from the noise of the atrocities that take place around the world strengthens that feeling of being out of the reality of our planet, but history always handles to hit you in the face and nail down your feet to the ground to make you react and understand that you are not untouchable anymore or anywhere, that we are living a historic moment of humankind and we must open our eyes to the cruel reality.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

November 13th of 2015 in Paris was for me exactly one of those moments which arrived to shake my soul and make me understand the historic moment we are living in the world. One day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I decided to go out in the streets with my camera, to visit the places where the attacks occurred and sumerge my self into the crowds,  melting my soul with the people of Paris in the middle of their reactions to this tragic event to try to capture in images all what I was watching for the next 5 days after the attacks .

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

I´m an immigrant in this country, I´ve been living here the last 3 years and still there are many things to learn and understand from the french culture, but these 5 days in the streets, living among the people, feeling their energy, listening to their talks, watching them, smelling the tragedy and touching the reality with my fingers have taught me more about them and about life than ever before since I put my feet on this country.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all right reserved.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved

I walked all the places of the attacks: Le Bataclan, Le Petite Cambodge, Le Carrillon, La rue de la Fontaine au Roi and La Place de la République (which is the main meeting point for parisians to do protests) and I felt that heavy syrup of sadness slipping directly into my soul, spreading its bitter flavor from one person to the other in complete silence, a silence that speaks through the eyes of every person out loud, a silence of sadness but at the same time a silence of courage because Parisians are not afraid of these barbarians who want to eliminate the word Freedom as one of the core values of the french nation. It was very touching, specially because I have been at least one time in all of the places where the attacks occurred having a beer, a coffee or dinning with different friends, so I could not stop thinking: it could have been me!

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

One of the things that has amazed me about french in all theses days, is the way they have reacted to the attacks in general, instead of feeling afraid and staying locked at their places, they have been out in the streets, visiting the places of the attacks doing pilgrimage of mourning to accompany their compatriots, they have been in the terraces of the restaurants having a coffee or having dinner with their friends, they have been gathering to protest and to sing the songs of freedom and french nationalism, in summary they kept living their normal parisian life full of activity outside in the streets. Their reaction seems to represent very well the phrase of Mahatma Gandhi: “When there is a storm, the birds hide themselves and the eagles fly higher”, I guess is the legacy of centuries that this city has  and that´s even written on their city shield: “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur” which means “Tossed but not sunk”.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

The attacks were a direct threat to the value of freedom that french have enacted and protected since the french revolution, a value that they have understood is the cornerstone of their society, for sure there is no better culture in the world than the french to understand what is the holistic meaning of the word Freedom. But these terrorist seem to don´t understand this about french culture and by doing this type of terrorist attacks, instead of sending a message of fear and submission, what they are achieving is to make a stronger union of french society against them, a union that is not afraid at all and the most important a union that is powered for the young people, the new generations that were the main victims of November 13th, a union that is joint together by the deep desire to defend that word Freedom.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

Another thing that has impressed me about the french, is their culture to debate and specially in moments of crisis like this one. When you arrive to places related to the attacks like Le Bataclan or La Place de la République, you will find during the whole day groups of people that gather together to debate, not about what happened but instead about what they have to do now to change or overcome this situation.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

L.A. Cuellar, all rights reserved.

French love deeply to debate, with ideas, with criteria and debate between two people, can easily evolve to a huge crowd of 20 or 30 people, where the word of every person that wants to speak is heard and respected and at the same time refuted by the ones that don’t agree in the most respectful ambience. I’ve seen in those debates people from different religions, social status, color of skin or education level exchanging their points of view and constructing a productive debate to advance to concrete ideas and actions. It shows the evolution of a society where the differences are accepted and can live together, an idea which is completely opposite to the idea of the terrorist of a society where there could only exist one way to think and live.

Paris Attacks Nov. 13 2015

The flavor that remains in my heart, my mind and my soul after all these days being in the middle of the people and the places of the attacks is a flavor of bittersweet, a mix between the deep sadness, the immense courage and decision of the french people to show that they are not afraid and they will fight for their freedom until the end by keep living their daily life with no restrictions, which for me has been the first and most important kickback that the people of France has gave to the terrorist. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but what I’m really sure is that the seed for a change in the french society have been sown past November 13th and it will keep growing big nourished by the courage and freedom of the french society.

Here are the images I made in all these 5 days, hope they help you to understand a bit what I felt.

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Cheers!

 

THE FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE – Aerial Photography Journey.


© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The cellphone vibrates one time, it´s a whatsapp message, I`m concentrated on the computer, scrolling down, looking at some pictures from Paris I had taken the week before, I´m looking, thinking, selecting, feeling and remembering the seconds which are embedded in each of those pictures. I continue working, the Iphone still remains there, in the table by the keyboard and again it vibrates 3 more times, the creak of the vibration against the old green wood of my desk disconnects me from my photo world, I turn my head and look at it, grab it in my hand to see the message, the screen shows I have a message from my friend and brother in Paris Gabo and it says: Alejo, how are you? I´m going to fly this weekend, do you want to come with me?

I immediately had contrasted feelings, I wanted to say yes! I´m going! but at the same time the fear appeared inside of me since I know it will be a learning flight for my friend. I think, I feel, I think and I feel again, some minutes passed by before answering the message, the battle of the heart and the reason goes on inside my body, finally as it has been for me in the last years, the heart wins and 5 minutes later I answer the message: ¨Hey Gabo, I´m good! sure, let`s do it!”

Two weeks went by and here I´m am on a saturday early morning, packing my equipment and getting ready, waiting for Gabo to arrive on his blue Peugeot 208 to pick me up. I finish everything and sit down in the couch, in the middle of the silence of my flat at 7:30 am in the morning.  I can hear my breath slowly going in and out of my nose, I start relaxing, feeling comfortable, the rhythm of my breath starts slowing his speed, I start getting sleepy and suddenly the cellphone vibrates again, I got a whatsapp message: “Alejo, I`m here just outside, let´s go!”

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

One hour after,  we are arriving to the Aéroclub Aigle de St-Maur, a sunny and bright day just perfect for  the adventure welcomes us in the aviation club. Ones I cross the door I enter to a world that feels back like in the past century. The first thing I see is the wooden desk of the counter with the logo of an eagle, all the chairs, colors, sofas and interior design in general has kept this flavor of the 80´s, I continue walking until the back of the room where there is a foosball and an old coffee machine, I see a brownish, padded old sofa that is inviting me strongly with its shape to sit down and relax, the smell of coffee reaches my noise and I start to relax again while I wait for Gabo who is in a small room preparing the flight with Jim his flight instructor.

Thirty minutes went by and we´re ready to board the small plane, a Robin DR-400 painted in blue and white stripes; while I´m going up I realize that the plain is mainly made by a really light and fragile material, Gabo tells me exactly where is the metallic part of the wing to put my foot and get inside the  cabin, I go to the back seat, Gabo goes in the front left side and Jim in the right front, the instructor gives me the headphones and ask me to put them on to see if they are working, ones I do it, a typical radio noise comes into my ears asking me if I hear him, I just say yes!

The engine is on, we start moving and my heart starts beating more strongly, I hear through the headphones a technical language between Gabo, Jim and the control tower, I don´t understand anything of their talk, from that moment ahead I´m completely alone in the trip, they are on their business and I have to prepare for mine.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Ten minutes after, the tiny plane is ready to take off with the 3 of us inside, I see Gabo`s hand pulling thoroughly the accelerator and we start going really fast to take off, every single atom of that plane is shaking and I can feel all those vibrations going through my body, suddenly the nose of the plain goes up and we lift off, I can feel the wind crashing strongly to the plane, everything is moving strongly, Gabo makes a small turn right losing the balance of the plane, a strong sensation of vertigo overrun my body through all of my cells reaching the bottom of my soul, after 3 seconds Gabo corrects the maneuver, we are again on the right position and for the first time in my life I have the real sensation of flying, it´s  like riding a pegasus with just a couple of wings to keep us in the air.

Fifteen minutes later we are starting to prepare to land in another airport, I have started taking pictures long time ago, trying to get the frames I imagined, trying to be keen when I press the shooter in an environment where everything is shaking, even my breath.Gabo and Jim are concentrated on their business, we are landing and 10 seconds after we do it, we are taking off again without stoping the plane, all in the same run,  all in one move; again the plane vibrates strongly, the wind is hitting us like the ocean hits the rocks of a cliff, this time Gabo manages to make a smooth turn right and then after few seconds we are high in the sky again. We did the same operation 5 times, landing and taking off of the same airport track, until the end of the lesson when we went back to the first airport were we took off.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

One hour later I was again sitting in the brownish sofa by the foosball, I´m not anymore the same person, I have experienced how is to fly a small plane and literally feel the wind under your feet, I have changed as a person, I have one more story to tell, I have traveled in a different way for the first time and specially I have a strong dizziness to handle before coming back again to the normal life.

Thanks to Gabo again for inviting me to this aerial ride!!! Here is the photography of the adventure, the aerial and the ground pictures, I hope you enjoy them.

Cheers!


Firma Blog

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Travel of Life


© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I have always liked to travel and see new worlds, new cultures, new ways of seeing life, new sensations, new people; when I’m traveling I have this feeling inside of excitement, curiosity and expectation, the same one I have when I receive a gift from somebody wrapped in a nice gift paper: I dont know what comes inside and I like to unwrapped slowly and carefully, with no hurry to make that sensation of excitement, curiosity and expectation last the longer that I can.

The most important travel that we as humans will ever do is our life itself. It’s a travel even if you dont ever move from the place you were born, it’s a mind and spirit travel that you will have even if you dont want to do it, it’s a travel because you start in one point coming to life from your mother and end up in another one without ever knowing the date it will finish, it’s a travel because you will carry a luggage of experiences with you that could make the trip easy or hard to handle and it’s a travel because you are not the same person at the end of the journey.

The most interesting part of this travel of life is that the only thing you will have for sure is an end that will last forever, that final point of arrival is called death,  after that you will never be able to travel again at least in what we know as our physical tridimensional world in earth. Death is what makes the travel of life most interesting, because no matter what you decide to do in life you will end up dying and the most exiting thing about death is that none of us know when it will come; Death is not just for the old people, death is just another part of the cycle of life and it can arrive at any moment of our short human existence.

So, if we know that the only certain thing in our trip of life is death and at the same time we don’t know when it will arrive, Why should we waste our lives doing things that don’t make us feel in the present that feeling of excitement, curiosity and expectation that I mention before? Why should we live a life the way everybody does just because it’s the way it should be? Why should we waste our limited minutes of existence to do a life to please the others? and most important: Why should we live a life to feel regret for not having done what we really wanted in our last minutes before dying?

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

We should have the courage to take the real control of our lives and start doing whatever brings us in the present that feeling of joy, love and passion, with no excuses for that! The monster of money in our society of hyper consumption have taken out from us our souls, clouding our minds and blackening our hearts. Former President of Uruguay José Mujica described it really well for Human the movie: “When I buy Something, when you buy something, you’re not paying money for it, you’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing that money can’t buy, life only gets shorter and it’s pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.”

It’s been three years since I decided to make the decision to take the control of my travel of life by doing what really has made me feel alive: Photography. Before I was living a “good life” in front of society in all aspects: economically, socially, professionally and sentimentally, but I was living empty inside and blind for our capitalism system. Today, I can say that since I made that decision three years ago, the travel of life has been five times more lonely, ten times more exiting, hundred times more human, thousand times more difficult but million times worth it.

I live this travel in the present with the gift that every morning brings to me, sometimes the gift is amazing, some times is ugly, but it’s a gift that life is bringing to you to learn something, it’s a gift that I like to unwrap slowly and carefully because I will carry it with me in the travel of life and it will help me in some way to travel more humanly, being grateful for that minute that just has passed, which will never come back; this gift will help me in my present to construct the minute that is coming next, which I will never know if it will be the last one in my life.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I wanted to express in some way how I feel on this travel of life, so I went to the train stations where you find the powerful TGV trains to shoot some images to capture that blurry, confusing, difficult but colorful and exiting way that I´ve been living that live travel adventure in the last three years, I hope you enjoy them!

Cheers!

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Universal Connection


© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I remember very well, when I was a child the first time somebody explained me that our ¨huge¨ planet was just a tiny particle in the middle of a infinite space. I felt an indescribable emptiness in my stomach and a feeling of confusion in my head, how could it be possible that such a huge planet, where the humans are the “kings” and “lords” would be just a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe?

Ever since then, I had this question on my mind and the curiosity about the universe, the stars, our planet and the energy that goes around all of them, specially how we as humans are connected to this huge and unknown system? Little by little, I started finding information, people and knowledge that allow me to start understanding a little bit more how and where to start putting the first pieces of the puzzle in my head and soul to understand the riddle.

After all these years, I have come to some conclusions, today I want to share one of them with you, which was my first personal approach to understand the universe at this moment in my life. I dont pretend for this to be an indissoluble truth and even less pretend to convince you of something… these are just some thoughts, that can evolve and change with time as the universe does every day.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Today I understand that we human beings are not the lords of our planet nor even of the universe, we are just another tiny grain of sand which has a role in the gear of universe. I started to think this way the day I found a paragraph in the book of CelsusOn the True Doctrine: The Discours Against the Christians“, the paragraph says “…And if they object this verse from Euripides: “The sun and the night are at the service of man”, I will ask, why were them made more for us than for ants and flies? The night doesn’t serve them, as it does for us, to rest, the sunlight to see clearly and work?…”

That specific paragraph made a change in my way to see the universe, I understood that our huge planet, which is in direct connection with our solar system and with the universe, is also in direct connection with that ant and vice versa. At the same time the planet has this same relation with me, with no distinctions, the ant and me are in the same level of relation for the planet, so If I wanted to be connected to the universe, I should have a honest relation with the planet as the wise ant does.

To have that honest relation with the planet, I should start by having a honest relation with me and that starts by finding what is my real task in life, as the ant knows it and just does it. In my case, for many different cultural and religious reasons that were blocking my mind, my soul and my spirit, it took me 35 years to find out which was that task  that will allow me a honest connection with the Universe.

When you find that task you should perform in the planet, you will know it immediately because ones you do it for the first time, every one of your atoms will be vibrating  of joy, you will lose the sense of the time passing, the more you do it, the more you will feel energized instead of tired and you´ll always have the desire of  going back and do it again.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

My task to connect with the Universe is the art of Photography, it is a daily task that connects me honestly with my surroundings, with the planet, with my interior, with the present but at the same time, in the same millisecond I press the shooter it’s also connecting me with the past  that I just frozen with my camera for ever. The act of photographing and photography itself are linked to connect me with the universe.

During the last year, I had the desire to do a series of pictures to show the relation I´m trying to construct with our planet and to the infinite ocean of galaxies that are out there. Last December, I went to a region in the central Colombian Andes range, which have been related to my family for the last 5 generations; we have been working and living close to those mountains, I have felt and seen those landscapes since I have a memory. When I am there, I always go to a mountain near the house, lay down in the ground, close my eyes and just relax, be in the present, breath and feel with all my senses the connection with our planet.

Last time while sitting there, I had the idea to do a series of photos in that place by night, so I could show the landscape in connection with the stars of the universe, all connected in one frame through my eyes; the 3 of us connected in one single image to accomplish my task as the ant does to be literally connected to the Universe in one picture.

Cheers!

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Visual Introspection


© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I haven´t post lately with the same frequency as before and the reason is the Introspection. Yes, there are moments in life when you need to look inside your own mental and emotional bodies to understand more about you and specially about the struggle we have as artist to be ourselves, to find who we really are, to die and reborn every day to connect that with our art, which for me is photography.

Sometimes, the introspection comes from you and some others it comes from outside. In my case, it came from the explosive shake of my soul that came after my inner search for answers. Then suddenly, life put me in contact with some key persons that let me to answers about my photography and you know what? I found out that I was forgetting or missing the path to reach my own self, the answers that came from this persons were like fire alarms that woke me up to take things to a next stage.

Paris People

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I went back to the roots and started remembering why and how I started this path as a photographer 3 years ago and remembered that all started in the streets of Bogotá where I spend hours as a hunter, chasing for images to collect, to eternize in bits those instants that will never happen again in the exact same way.

At this moment, I realized that I haven´t been an street image chaser since I´ve been living in Paris as a profesional photographer, I realized that I was not taking advantage of the opportunity to live in one off the most interesting cities in the world, full of history, art, complexity and diversity, with strong contrasts between beauty and ugliness, richness and poverty, darkness and color and a million more of combinations.

Paris People

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I understood that I was wasting my opportunity in Paris to collect the present, wasting the opportunity to express my present experience through my pictures and at the same time to remember who I am. So  I decided to go out into the stone jungle of Paris and chase for those moments, those images that are alive in my present but at the same time are dying at while I´m pressing the shutter to become part of the past but to live for ever frozen into the frame of a picture. As Susan Sontag said on her book On Photography: “The photographer is the contemporary being for excellence; through his look, the present becomes the past.” I felt that

In the other hand, I also saw that I wasn’t taking all the advantage of the art and cultural exuberance of Paris,  so I also started to visit museums, go to exhibitions, go to publique libraries to study the work of masters like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Robert Frank and more contemporary great photographers like William Klein and Alex Webb, to learn about their path, their life, their photography and to try to get under their skin to continue from there my search into myself.

All this started at the beginning of this year when I was searching for answers to find a way to connect my fashion photography with something close to what I like: the Street, the concrete reality of the asphalt and stone of the city. What I want is to put the fantasy stories of fashion inside a context that is in real touch with “real world” and I put these two word quotes because I’m talking about my real world, the one I see out in the streets, the one I see through my eyes, I feel through my soul and I concretize through my mind.

Paris People

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The result of all this process until now has been a reunion with my self, talking pictures in the street, alone, walking for hours waiting for that special moment to happen, reawakening my instincts and, following them, rethinking my photography, because “photography is a universal force of reevaluation of life” as Sontag said.

But the most important discovery, has been this phrase of Moholy-Nagy: “The ethos of photography, seems closer to that of modernist poetry than that of painting. As painting has become more and more conceptual, poetry has more and more defined itself as concerned with the visual”. Ones I read it, many things felt into place because at the same time I feel photography has become more, and more poetic making the daily scenes of the real world look like magic, showing a world that although is taking from reality, it only exist int the pictures.

This quote from Moholy-Nagy also made me remember that I used to write poems when I was in high school and university, but I stopped it ones I started to work, so it was a beautiful coincidence to find out this quote to remember and connect with my past, with something that was sleeping inside me and now I want to wake up… I finally understood that I might keep looking for poetry in my photography or pictures in my poetry.

So here is a sample of what I´ve been doing lately, I hope you enjoy them:

Cheers!

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