Written by Ryan Lyons
The 90's era that I was raised in romanticized New York. I remember the influence that Wu-tang had on my hometown, Baltimore and vice versa with emcees like Tupac and DMX. Shows like Seinfeld, The Apollo, and New York Undercover revealed the landscape and culture of New York City, but due to gentrification, that culture is slowly dying.
I met Mia at her photo job some-odd years ago and I've slowly seen her pull back the curtain on her photography. Many of her shots feel similar to a movie in slow motion. Her still frames break down the romance of life's ordinary moments, and in many ways her shots remind me of that golden era. She's a witty New Yorker who has style both on and off the camera. Peep our interview below.
So, where did you grow up, and what's your background? How'd you get into photography?
I was born in Ecuador but I moved to Queens when I was two years old with my family. I went to high school in the Lower East Side and in my junior year of high school, I had a friend named Alex who took me to art galleries, exhibitions and we used to go to Barnes and Nobles to look at art books (laughs). He opened me to this world of graffiti and art that I fell in love with. I was always taking photographs of friends after seeing the work by photographers like Nan Goldin, Elinor Carccui, Philip Lorca Dicorcia. I started to pay attention to the details (color, lighting, composition) and waiting for that moment, not just clicking away.
From my view, it seems that your work is surrounds genuine friendship, and just those life moments you experience when hanging with them. How would you describe your work?
I would agree. Some of my best friends are DJ's so I go to their gigs every week and meet new people all the time. I always have a camera on me and people love getting their picture taken. I would say my work is a reflection of Gen-Y New Yorkers. We’re holding on to this gritty affordable way of living that is being taken from us. Everyone that I have photographed is creative in their own craft and are influenced by New York Shitty (yes i did mean new york shitty).
"The photo industry is complicated and difficult to work in, especially being a woman of color."- OhMiaMore
Why do you shoot? Why film?
Shooting keeps me sane. In general I love creating art whether it’s photographs, zines, collaborating with other artists but its been difficult balancing my job and my art which is why I always carry a camera. When I’m walking and something catches my eye, I capture it. I’ve been shooting with a Yashica T4 and Contax T2 for the past 2 years. I love film because it limits the amount of images I take. I know I have 36 frames per roll which means 36 opportunities to capture a moment. There is so much excitement when I get my film processed, i feel like a kid again. Also… nothing and i mean nothing compares to that grain.
"I’m not certain of the direction my photography is going but I keep shooting to figure it out." - OhMiaMore
Can we talk about the ups and downs of shooting? Are there days and moments where shooting excites you, and are their days when you just look at the camera? What's your relationship with shooting like?
Coming out of school I was reluctant to get a job that required me using my camera in fear of eventually despising photography. I like shooting for myself. I do some editorial work here and there as long as I have creative control but I hate editing it haha. Its really rewarding for me when I send people photographs and they are thrilled and share it. I do marketing for a camera store downtown so I’m constantly surrounded by photography and I still love it. The photo industry is complicated and difficult to work in, especially being a woman of color. I'm not certain the direction of my photography is going but i keep shooting to figure it out.
" I believe that our generation is caught up in social media and have this need to prove that they are having a great time or are participating in an exclusive moment. " - OhMiaMore
Why do you think this generation is so caught up in taking photos?
I believe that our generation is caught up in social media and have this need to prove that they are having a great time or are participating in an exclusive moment. With apps like instagram and snapchat, everything is in the moment and its difficult not to share all the time. Everyone has a camera phone and filters to make a mediocre picture into a decent photograph.
Have you began printing your work? Do you enjoy developing/printing photos side of photography?
I have only been developing and scanning. I haven’t printed any photographs since school due to lack of resources which makes it difficult to edit. I’ve always preferred to print and physically change the layout of photographs. I’m going to be part of a all women show at Community 54 on July 14th so I will finally have printed photographs available to purchase. Photographs are meant to be printed, mounted and appreciated. Its easy to overlook the details and beauty of a photograph through a screen which is a shame.
What is it about shooting that keeps you sane? Is the reflection of friendships and good moments? Is it the feeling of capturing a moment in time?
I shoot about 2-5 rolls a week and work 40-55 hours a week. When i’m shooting, I’m creating and it reminds me that my job is just a job and not my life. I was afraid of getting a job in the photo industry after school in fear of hating photography. Im happy to say that, that isn’t the case. I also have amazing, talented friends that i love taking photographs of. They are always willing and participating, i love it. i’ll admit there are times that i forget who i saw or what i did when i go out so its amazing when i get back a roll and it triggers all these memories haha. I shoot to remember and keep those memories.
Ha, let's speak about the grain. The grainier the better or..? & What's your favorite film to shoot with and why? What do you like about it?
It depends. I absolutely love Kodak Portra 800 when I shoot portraits any time of day. It’s great for skintones and I barely have to edit my photographs. I usually only fix the contrast and once in a while i crop. My other favorite film which is hard to find is Fuji Neopan 100 or 400. Its so soft and very film noir, amazing for portraits.
What are the difficulties about being a woman in the photo industry?
In general, its difficult for women to be taken seriously in ANY field. I feel uncomfortable when I tell people that I’m a photographer because most of the time, they think its a hobby and I take cute pictures of flowers and trees. We are also in a time where anyone can claim they are photographers because they know how to edit a photo or they bought a Canon 5D Mark III. I believe that the camera doesn’t make a photographer, it’s the photographer’s eye and creativity that make them into a photographer.