Writing came first. Back in Uruguay, I found fellow teens’ blogs in which they wrote about their everyday life. I liked reading them and decided to give blogging a try, too. It quickly became my way of processing the shit I was going through, all the ups and downs while being alone and lonely in a foreign country on another continent. Words were my life line when big waves threatened to swallow me. Honest words and the connection they enabled. My readers’ comments got me through the day, the week, the months abroad. They were all I had, six years ago.
Three years later I bought a mirrorless camera to make my little blog more appealing. I liked photography more than I expected, fell for it head over heels, and spontaneously decided to pursue it as a career. I want to emphasise that I had no clue about photography at that point. I just took photos of trees and flowers. But it was fun and something felt right about it, so I spent hours editing photos and lots of money buying basic camera equipment. I was a bloody beginner with a big dream and, thankfully, good intuition as well.
When I started taking portraits two years ago, I quickly got obsessed with it. I never stopped writing, it was still my way of processing everything going within and around me, but my focus fully shifted to photography. It was all I thought about, all I cared about. Maybe because it’s easier to say ‘I want to become a photographer’ or that ‘I like to take photos’ than to make writing sound like something serious. It was easier to measure my progress and ‘success’ with something visual. Also, photography is a way of involving others, a bridge, a connector. The social opportunities it offered were distracting, seducing, and I photographed without actually having something to say.
Additionally, I’ve always known people who were much better at writing than me. Mostly two classmates who excelled with fantastic essays and who started to share their work on public platforms. I was so insecure they were enough to put me off– I’ll never be as good as them, so why should I try? I didn’t allow myself to be too ambitious, to take it serious. Only now I’m starting to realise that I got it all wrong. I can’t afford to underestimate the importance of expressing myself verbally. Photography is just another way of figuring out and expressing what I have to say, but writing comes more natural to me. It’s still the what helps me most when I’m confused, happy, overwhelmed, sad, or just thoughtful.
Lately I’ve been more focused on figuring out what I want to say, what matters to me. Currently I believe the things I care about most are honesty, humans and connections and how I’m related to all this. It’s nothing fancy, I wish they were things of greater importance. Like finding a cure against a disease or saving the world. But we can’t choose where our interests lie, can we? And whenever I struggle with the apparent lack of relevance in my work or the accusation of being self-absorbed I remind myself that so many of you, from all over the world, are here, reading this, commenting, caring.. so what I care about has to be universal in some way.
I never thought I’d say this but I realised that, at this point, I rather lived without my camera than without pen and paper. Life only makes sense after writing about it. I need words to cope, they are essential, photography is secondary. I’m not sure what it means to my photography, to my future as a ‘visual storyteller’. What I do know is that I have to take writing more seriously, figure out what I have to say and make the things I care about the focus of my photographic work as well. Writing and photography have been rivals so far, but what if I could make them work together?
Model: Serbian actor Djordje who was kind enough to let me into his world