Michael Strah – Featured IPA member
I moved from Canada to Mexico to live permanently in 1993, but didn’t discover photography until late 2011. A little odd since Mexico is a fantastically photogenic country with a long and significant history of remarkable photographers. Basically, owing to my being a life long motorcyclist, I began taking pictures of the places I would ride to so I could share them with friends and family. I work as an English language narrator for corporate/industrial/educational videos and documentaries and often do the translation, too. In between jobs, I teach English as a Foreign Language privately specializing in exam preparation.
Gear wise, I began with a point and shoot Nikon pocket camera, moved to a similar Fuji model and then settled in with a Samsung pocket telezoom type. I have used a full sized Sony bridge camera, a Nikon D3200, and finally settled on a Sony Alpha dSLR. I also got the film bug and purchased a pair of early model Nikon “Nikonos” amphibious 35mms with a pair of 35 and 80mm lenses. Film still puts a knowing smile on a lot of faces, there is something about it that makes it a great point of conversation. I have recently retired my Samsung WB850F that served me so well and picked up a used Panasonic Lumix LX-7 as my daily carry around and I am looking forward to using it and believe it will change the way I shoot and demand more from me.
A couple of years ago, I picked up a book of photos by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, a noted Mexican photographer and was hooked. I began researching Mexican photographers and also watching a weekly program on the national UNAM university TV station which features a noted photographer each week. Also, the book “National Camera” which is a modern history of Mexican photography and imagery completed my introduction to Mexican photography. There is also a very good national magazine “Cuartoscuro” (Darkroom) which presents the finest in national and international photography. I really encourage everyone to visit their website and leaf through free digital copies of back issues at http://cuartoscuro.com.mx/ Cuartoscuro is also a photo agency and general clearing house for everything related to Mexican photography.
Personally, I feel very comfortable shooting in black and white, probably owing to growing up with a black and white TV and reading news magazines and others such as LIFE, from an early age. I have found color to be a challenge, too. Parts of Mexico have some truly spectacular landscapes and daily life here is so widely varied there is never a shortage of subjects. I now understand why Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and so many more photographers spent lengthy periods of time here.
The iconic “Men on a Rooftop” Sao Paulo, 1960 by the late Rene Burri and especially the piece “Mujer Angel” Sonoran desert, Mexico, 1979 from Graciela Iturbide are among my favorite works. In fact, “Mujer Angel” is the background screen on my computer, I draw inspiration from it every single day.
Receiving an invitation to join the group International Photographers Alliance was a great opportunity for me, and I have really tried to contribute and view all the daily submissions as often as possible. It is like living in a very friendly neighborhood of very creative people. There is no doubt it has contributed a huge amount to my passion for photography. I really would like to thank everyone who has enjoyed my work to date, and especially members Ray Richards and Giles Hugo for their patience and practical advice.
Being chosen as a featured member was a great surprise, thank you, Spyro! I hope I haven’t rambled on too much, and again, I’d like to encourage everyone to investigate the history of Mexican photography and the work of Mexican photographers, particularly the leading role played by Mexican female photographers.