Joshua Sariñana was one of the photographers selected in the 2018 Rfotofolio selections. Today we are please to share his work with you.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Born and raised in the Bay Area, I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts via Los Angeles. My cross-continental move was due to my attending MIT for graduate school, which is where I received my Ph.D. in neuroscience. I switched focus to photography after graduating and have gone deeper and deeper ever since.
Where did you get your photographic training?
Mostly the internet and by trial and error. I’m not classically trained in any visual arts. However, as a scientist, it is critical to present data that is comprehensible and that gets the utmost message across with the minimal visual elements, that is, well designed. Also, looking and interpreting one’s findings take a type of mental conceptualization that is visual in nature. That being said, I had been taking pictures regularly from age 19 to 28 or so. For the better part of the last decade I’ve spent about half of my time on photography.
Why do you create?
To stay tethered to some sort of grounded reality. The reflective and mnemonic properties of the medium allow me to counter my psychological and emotional dissociation. The process of attending to image making and then becoming conscious of what my images represent – the motivation to shoot a certain scene, I find, is often unconscious – is what keeps me from floating away. That and my wife and son. It some sense, the process of creation is more a necessity than anything else.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
I grew up isolated and it is where I feel most comfortable now. Resultantly, my creative process is secluded and is minimally affect by other people, at least with photography.
In the context of science, those that directly trained me, especially early on in my career, had the strongest impact on me. The first time I was trained in a science laboratory was at NASA by a principle investigator and his student. Needless to say, I learned an exceptional amount and my process of conducting research was born at that time. Others have taught me as well and they also had an impact, but as I became more confident their influence became less and less important. Still, while at UCLA I had some excellent teachers of molecular, behavioral, and physiological techniques and I am indebted to them as I doubt, I would have had any other opportunity to learn from individuals as exceptional as they were.
I suppose this training has made it more or less easy for me to develop my own process with regard to photography. Not that the process is inherently facile especially since each project is so different procedurally, but rather, I’m comfortable with it.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
The first image that comes to mind is Jeff Widener’s, Tank Man. I must have been quite young when I first came across it. The simple act of defiance in the face of an insurmountable Chinese military came across as so confusing and powerful. Certainly, this moment was fleeting and ultimately history came to be. However, the captured moment still affects me as much as it ever has.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
My image, “Break”. I saw this scene on the subway while crossing a bridge from Cambridge to Boston on the way to work. The landscape was between the two ends of the bridge. I had to double back to make the image and I’m incredibly happy I did. This image will be exhibited in the Aperture gallery, has also been exhibited in the Museum of Sydney in Australia, and won several awards. What I learned was that if I see something interesting that I must take the time to not let it pass me by.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking.?
Taking a photo with intent.
How important is the photographic community to you?
Difficult to say. I’ve made it a point to interact in the same physical space as photographers, such as at exhibition openings. However, I find the majority of those interactions as quite awkward. Of course, it might just be me. Still, I’ve met some fellow photographers that I’ve really gotten a long with and really enjoy their company. Fran Forman and Tamar Granovsky are examples of local photographers that I’ve befriended. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly lovely people and the community is critical for learning and for some aspects of success. Like in any field, networking is critical for career advancement.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
My iPhone, large format camera, and Polaroid type film all of which I have used to create a few series of work with. I have more than a dozen cameras and they are all important to me. Relatedly, I have the Impossible Project Universal lab, which I used for my series, “Prosopagnosia”. That piece of equipment allowed me to expose images from my iPhone onto Polaroid type film. Also, I use to have access to an Epson Expression 10000 XL scanner, which was such a help for scanning a large amount of Polaroid film and negatives.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I’ve spent a lot of time practicing street photography but have ultimately failed at it. I suppose I would like to try again in the future. Other aspects of photography that I would like to work on are collage, double exposures, and some sort of multi-media appropriation.
What’s on the horizon?
A project that seeks to understand brain function through photography. More specifically, how individuals with brain trauma see the world.
To learn more about the work o fJoshua Sariñana please visit his site at Joshua Sariñana.