Carla’s Black American Life
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Corey Davis | 9 Comments; | Category: Culture, Interview
Carla Aaron-Lopez is a Los Angeles native who picked up her first camera at the age of 20 while rivaling with a college friend and instantly developed an affinity for photography. Her portfolio is centered on her life and the people she encounters, preferring to shoot “hard-working black people and they ultimately have the best stories to tell.” A close friend of mine, whose criticism and opinion I’ll always value, I recently had a chance to chop it up her.
When did you fall in love with photography?
Oh man… the first time I saw my shit on cibachrome. The vibrancy and richness of the color in photograph was magnetic and it pulled me into wanting to learn about the craft on a serious level.
What is the first photo you remember taking?
A self portrait with the fake clear-lensed Ray-Bans (the kind the hipster kids wear now) and an electric blue wig. I took it on a Sony MiniDV camera in nightvision. I looked like “The Ring” girl come to life. Shit was bananas to shoot in nightvision. Everything had a dark and morbid appeal to it. The fact that picture outcome is green doesn’t really help to take away it’s strange appearance. I was digging that aesthetic so hard at the time.
Tell us what life is like behind the view finder?
Detail-oriented. I always forget one small detail that would make something dope. Every time I pick up a camera to shoot I always remember to stay detail-oriented because it helps to create the bigger picture. Therefore, life sometimes looks like a photograph. The small moments become those small details I need to complete the whole and the photograph.
Do you prefer to shoot traditionally or digital? Why?
I dig both. They both have an aesthetic appeal that I think should be exercised whenever the time calls for it. Digital is easy because the reward is quicker than a Polaroid. Every waking moment can be recorded if one chooses to do so. Or maybe you have a great idea to shoot a night out with friends on film to capture how special this occasion will be. Film has such a seductive quality to it that when compared to digital, you can’t help but to think about the history of film and what has been recorded and documented in analog. However, with digital, you can stretch the limits of photograph through manipulation and digital graphics.
100 years from now, what is the message you want your photos to convey about American culture in 2010?
For my photographs, I want to be able to be recognized as more than a black artist exploring more than just black culture but American culture. I do not see a difference between the two. It is my hopes that when people finally understand that then they will be able to see black people for more than a second class group of citizens. No matter if they are black punks, geeks, freaks or boppers. To the future!
What is the role of your photograpy in history?
I document the times. There are lots more tattooed people today. I don’t know if that’s stupidity from trend following or an actual phenomenon based upon a subconscious need to tribally mark oneself permanently due to man’s extradition from nature. Therefore, I document the times through classic documentary style or studio lighting set-up. My main interest is to shoot people of color. When I make my first photo book it will be in the small art/culture/philosophy section in the library.
How come you prefer to shoot “normal”, day-to-day people?
Because I have no interest in the celebrity or semi-celebrity. To me, a lot of their character is made up for them and you don’t get a chance to really spend time with them to shoot. “Normal” people are an oddity to me because I know I’m a little odd. We all have these different ways of describing normal thinking that we’re all on the same level but we’re not. Everybody lives and come up a little different that the next. I find that fascinating! It’s what helps create our character as people. Plus, day-to-day people never seem to catch a break like me. I can relate to that sometimes. I feel like I give them a break by capturing something special or dope about them. At least for today, I’ve made you happy.
A lot of your work seems to capture the promiscuous, carefree mentality of today’s youth. What made you decide to make that one of your focal points?
I didn’t. I just shot my life and the people I meet. It’s just my nature so I fell in cool with the Terry Richardson/Juergen Teller-style photographs. Birds of a feather flock together and I shot them birds with a digital 35mm. It’s a no fear generation out here. They come in all different colors, shapes and sizes. I have fun shooting them but lately I’ve been moving on deeper into art with shoots here and there.
How do you feel about today’s generation, are we heading in the right direction?
I don’t know. It saddens me when I see a really cool looking young black kids and they have no clue about the magnitude of how grand their black history is. Think about how more empowered every black boy and girl, man and woman would be when backed with the knowledge of their history as more than just slaves to a pale horse system? That could change the world! Especially with how today’s youth is more willing to take challenges or band together through technology. I don’t know. I just think that if a group of kids are willing to step outside of what has been established as black or urban wear into skinny jeans and tight T-shirts then a little of that attention can be made to feed the brain with Supreme knowledge. I’m just saying. Get off the emo BS, go get some knowledge and go see the world. Help mend what’s broken. Get off that “it’s all about me” bullshit.
What do you love about art?
The freedom to show you what’s on the inside of my mind. To know that if I need something about life explained to me I can find the answers in art. Its different forms of interpretation like paint, film, found object. There are a lot of things that I don’t understand in the life but with art, I just get it. I understand it. It’s my interest now to find artists that have been neglected from art history. All the greats of fine art are cool but there is such a shortage of diversity among the canonized few. Art keeps everything exciting. What could you hate about that?
Sex, Drugs or Rock and Roll?
I’ll take the sex and the rock and roll. Drugs just make people look old as hell and broken in thoughts. Dope, dirty sex keeps you looking younger I believe. Ha!
For more information about Carla check out her site http://www.whoiscarla.com