Photographs have a way of making people feel and remember. That's what makes it important. You can capture the essence of a moment and share them with people — a slice of life as some would call it. The work of photographer Emmanuel Rosario has life written all over it. His photographs are the gritty, real, and personal and he generously shares them with an audience that can't and won't help but to relate with them on different levels.
Emmanuel has an eye for images and a heart for encounters. He includes people in his stories and writes words on film. His photographs feel like they could be diary entries of the late poet Jack Kerouac. You look at Emmanuel's photos and you feel a connection and that goes beyond technical know-how and savvy effects. You understand what the photo is about because at one point in your life, you were a witness to it or you were the one in the frame. That's a different kind of storytelling and photography and Emmanuel makes it look so damn easy. It feels like a toast is in order so here's to the nights you can't remember and the days you can't forget. Cheers!
Hi, Emmanuel! Welcome to the Magazine. What do you do and how did you get started on your photographic journey!
Hey! Thanks for having me. I’m currently a freelance photographer assistant and bartender in New York. I started photography somewhat by chance, it was a class that was offered in high school and it caught my attention. Throughout the years, I continued to document life with friends and those I would meet throughout my travels around America and abroad.
How would you define photography? What's your favorite thing about it?
Photography is a visual documentation of our personal journey through life. Documenting what intrigues our mind and keeping a record of time.
Mary Ellen Mark once said: “Photograph the world as it is, nothing is more interesting than reality.”
Photography allows me to keep a visual, autobiographical journal of moments I have shared with others.
What inspires you to create images?
I’m inspired by moments that feel unfamiliar but authentic, people who choose to live outside the conformity of mainstream society, and personal moments that I would like to remember.
Talk us through your creative process. How do you come up with your shots?
It is difficult to explain because I don’t really have a set creative process, or at least I haven’t been able to define it. It’s more of a gut feeling, inspired by moments I try to find rawness and authenticity in life.
What pushes you to create new content?
The mental instability that I feel when I don’t create. For me, photography is kind of like an addiction. I need to create new content in order to feel “normal” and find balance in my life.
Your photographs are like time capsules — they bring us back to days long gone. How did you come up with this stylized vintage vibe?
I don’t quite know to be honest. I always wanted my photographs to feel nostalgic, to invoke memories of the past shared with friends and loved ones but mainly for me to remember my time with friends. I have always been fascinated by photographs from the “old days,” when people spent more time outside socializing, experimenting, getting to know each other and really pushing the limits of life and having fun with imagination. That, coupled with my color palette and the style encompassed by my closest friends, I guess would give the feel of a 'stylized vintage vibe'.
We love the rich colors, textures, and rawness of your shots. Was this a particular style you were going for?
Thank you, it means a lot to hear! It was not a particular style I was going for but one that developed with time. Since I started photography I have been influenced by the works of Nan Goldin, William Eggleston, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Jacob Holdt, Weegee, and my dear friend Theo Gosselin. I think my work is influenced by all of their styles to some degree. I’ve taken inspiration from each of these artists and it has shaped my approach and photographic style.
Your feed makes us want to hit the open road and just keep going till the tank is empty. How much traveling do you do? Have your travels influenced your style and photographic work?
Since 2011 I have made a point to travel at least once a year for a period of one to three months. Over the past eight years, I have been fortunate enough to have done ten road-trips across the US, visiting around 44 states. I also lived in Austin for two years and Detroit for a year spent several months in France and visited most of Central America. It's not as much as I would have liked, but I see travel as a lifelong pursuit.
My travels have definitely influenced my photographic style, but most importantly, the people that I have met along the way and the friendships that I have made have had the most significant impact on me. Always learning from one another and sharing experiences I have been able to find authentic raw moments to photograph.
Any unforgettable stories from your travels and adventures?
Detroit – 2017
Months prior to moving to Detroit I was solo-traveling around Mexico and Central America. My goal was to reach Argentina, but that did not happen. As I traveled, I heard some buzz about Detroit: how affordable it was to live there, the art scene was on the rise and some other things about the city that sparked my interest. By the time I made my way down to Costa Rica, I was starting to miss having a stable home. I decided to stop my travels south and go see what the Detroit-buzz was about.
I arrived in Detroit around the end of October. The weather in the Midwest was transitioning from fall to winter and I was very unprepared for the months to come. At a friend’s gathering, I met Joel; he had recently purchased a house that needed some work, and on a work-trade agreement I was able to get by until I found a job that allowed me to afford rent and get back on my feet. Winter rolled around and it was brutal. My room was without heat, food was scarce, my transportation was limited to a bicycle, and my social life was one I had to rebuild, as I knew no one in the city. My depression kicked into high gear and I fell into a web of hard drugs mixed with booze and an everlasting feeling of wanting to not feel.
Fighting through the winter I had a few accidents that resulted in a concussion, a fractured hand, and various other injuries. Always bouncing back, I kept my sanity by chatting with friends and planning adventures for the spring, as winter is a hard time for me. By June my situation had changed and I was financially and mentally stable. My friends Thibault, Theo and I decided to go on another road trip and we bought a ‘73 Ford LTD. June became a month of pure madness and love. We drove 6,000 miles from Detroit, heading southwest and looping around back through the south and central US. Making new friends and visiting old ones, we traveled around enjoying life and forgetting about our worries back home.
Sadly, a few months after that trip I was involved in a serious accident that nearly cost me my life and things were looking gloomy again. I decided to get my life together and move back to New York to try and pursue a career in photography. Detroit was a chapter of my life I will never forget. The people I met and the experiences I had were anything but predictable. Months of pure uncertainty and self-growth, with life events that I could would have never imagined experiencing. To quote my dear friend Kelly: “We do things in an effort for change, and with change we always hope for something better. But we don't always get it, and that's okay. No one here is about to stop trying, right?” Life has many challenges and I guess in my photographs I don’t really share such personal moments of uncertainty and despair, but my life is not just full of adventure, road trips and wild nights, it’s also been riddled with accidents and mistakes that have impacted my well being, but ultimately made me the person I am today.
What makes you stay with film? What do you like most about it?
Film is nostalgic and more hands on than digital. I love the process of being able to develop film and print my work. There is something special about being in a darkroom for hours under the dim red light and seeing the images come to life before you. Although I would admit I have not personally developed much work in a while, I recently bought a color and black and white developing kit to start at home and plan to eventually rent space in a local darkroom near where I live in Brooklyn to do my own black and white printing.
How do you stay creative?
Creativity is not something that comes easily to me, so I try to read, write, attend galleries and have conversations with friends that push my boundaries and raise questions.
Do you have new projects that you're working on?
I have a few projects in mind for this coming year. So far my friends and I worked on a short film in February. I’m really excited about this film, it’s a personal project that we collectively invested so much of our time and effort into. Now that I am back in New York, I plan on finishing my first photography book and hopefully accompanying the book with my first solo exhibition. I don’t usually share much of my work outside of social media but I feel like it's time to share more personal images that I have kept close to me all these years with a broader audience.
Lastly, what does a perfect day look like for Emmanuel Rosario?
A perfect day for me is spent creating and sharing moments with friends. Enjoying each others company, cooking, taking pictures and laughing at the most absurd things. The day would end by drinking around a campfire sharing stories of our past and coming up with ideas for new adventures.
We would like to thank Emmanuel for letting us feature his work in the magazine. Follow him on Instagram to see more of his bigger-than-life adventures on the road.