Five photographers, one city. Along with Adam Powell, Lauren Roche, Tyler Woodford and Christian Linares, Cat Byrnes went on a trip to Mexico in order to capture the life and culture on the streets of a foreign city. We gave the analog crew bags full of Lomography Film for their adventure, which they are now sharing with us one by one. This time, we're happy to introduce to you the talented multi-artist Cat Byrnes.
Where did your interest in photography/street photography first begin?
My mother gave me an analog camera for a photo course during my first year of college. This camera was used to archive my parent’s paintings; it became my first tool of visual self expression.
You are also are a painter and ceramicist. How do you think these different art practices informed your photography?
I've found that creating dynamic compositions becomes much easier after practicing with a multitude of mediums. For painting, I bring the colors to life with my hands. For photography, the colors unveil themselves to me. But as my favorite color palettes carry through my work regardless of medium, they are, in essence, symbiotic.
Your photos from Mexico City show no real evidence of time. Technology appears absent for instance. How does this timeless quality contribute to your overall interests or goals as an artist?
I believe viewing art should be a participatory experience. An allure of photography is identifying and empathizing with communal threads which can connect the subjects to our own experiences despite differences in time, culture, or location, the two go hand in hand.
In what way is shooting in Mexico City different than in New York City?
Mexico City is full of vibrant and lively people. In opposition to its arid landscape, its residents have cultivated a metropolis teeming with flowers and plant life. Jacaranda trees cascade over the streets of Roma and leave pathways of periwinkle buds. At one point during my stay I said, No wonder everyone is happy here, there's flowers everywhere! As I am fond of gardening and horticulture, I wish New York City would adopt a similar philosophy regarding an abundance of greenery cascading through the streets.
Do you have a specific photo in the group with a memory or story attached to it? Tell us about it.
During my third day I was walking through the side streets of Roma, searching for a new subject. I was immediately drawn to an open gate which led to a courtyard. White linens of gently-fluttering laundry lined the space inside. The scene was nostalgic and stirring. All at once I realized I was homesick; yet I was also comforted by the familiarity of it all. One of the earliest photos I took when I began to study photography in earnest was of my grandmother's hanging laundry in Kingston, Pennsylvania. It was a chore she performed every week without fail during the summer. Why would you ever take a photo of such a thing? She'd ask, confounded. But I answered that it reminded me of her, and of home.
Film changes the look and feel of this series of photographs. Why is shooting on film so important to you
Consistency is one of the most important aspects to my work. I've also found that shooting with an analog camera allows me to keep working without relying on electricity, which is one less headache I have to deal with while shooting. Analog or shooting with film is important to me as, in addition to my love of handling, archiving, and printing photographs by hand, I consider it as a symbolic gesture of homage to the rich history of photography.
Have a look at the articles on her fellow photographers joining the street photography trip to Mexico City: Adam Powell, Tyler Woodford Lauren Roche and keep an eye open for the final one featuring Christian Linares.