An interview: Morfi Jimenez Mercado, Peruvian photographer.


She know everything, Guillermina Tipo (86). Capachica, Puno
With this interview I am starting a new section in my blog, an interview to a Peruvian photographer and to start we have Morfi Jimenez, winner of the Hasselblad Master in the category of portrait in 2008.
- How long have you been taking photographs?
Approximately 12 years.

- How did you start in photography?
My background is in advertising production,  I had just taken a basic photography course, until then I was not interested to be a photographer. Is when I start to work on a production company when I realize that advertising was not for me, at least not that way.

On that job was when I saw work different photographers and I decide to start but in self-taught way profession because my parents had payed  me the advertising studies and they were very expensive. I started looking for books and every magazine I could collect about photography. I liked photography because it was a way to connect with the images in a more simple and intimate way unlike large audiovisual production.

- How did you receive the news of being one of winners of the 2008 Hasselblad master?
It was a morning Friday, I almost delete the email due to it came by the name of the person incharge of public relations so I thought it was spam! Fortunately I didn't and I opened and I could not believe see my name in the official website and in all other websites and sites related to the competition. I could not sleep almost a week, I tough they had made a mistake. Ha ha ha.
 
Moises Aquize returns from school
Moises Aquize (8) returns from the school. Maras, Cusco



- The series of images that made you win, were made specially for that contest? or was an already ongoing personal project?
The series is called "Light from within" (Luz de las entraƱas) and was made one month before the contest. It was by by own initiative not made for the contest, even I was thinking not to apply.

- How does it get started?
It come from a personal concern for the portrait. It was my first project and I decided to travel to Cuzco. I have a great bond with the Andes since childhood because my grandmother is from the central highlands of Peru

- Why paint the images?
I always like painting, in some way I am a frustrated painter and photography found me in some way with my old aspirations and it allowed me to get closer to it trough colorizing them. I see in every black and white image I take as an unfinished canvas :)


Fernando Uscca (26)



- Digital or film?
I use film or digital depending of what I do. My portraits are always on film, I like the the strengh and texture that film give to my images.
However when I a recieved the Hasselblad prize they lend me the H3D of 39 mp under certain technical conditions. I use the camera for the book of the winners but after finished I continued working with film, HP5 Ilford and Delta 100 for my new project about on the Amazon.

- How do you approach your subjects? Do you meet them in the street? Are referred to you or do you know them?
Depends on the kind of project. In my series "Light from within" were people that I found after walking a lot. If I see people that call my attention, I asked them, I tell what I do and they agreed. 
I want to clarify that all my models are aware they are portrayed and agreed by their own will. I have found very interesting people but unfortunately they did not want to and there is no photo. It is a matter of respect.
In other cases they were refereed by other.  For my new project about Iquitos I am working in a quite dangerous areas of that city and for that I have made a contact that allow me to access to it and talk to the people.

- Inspiration? Photographers you like?
Many are classic painters and baroque: Rembrant, La Tour and Caravaggio between m favorites. Richard Avedon, Jan Saudel, Jean Loup Sieff between the photographers that inspired me.

- You have only one series of nude photographs in your website,  are you taking more of them? or are you not interested on them (at least for now)?

Actually I have more but lastly I have not taken more photos, is something I have to retake. I like the female body in all its ways but is something I don't think have something solid to show yet, at least for now.


Cusquenian doll at the agtes of San Blas, Cusco

- In your portraits many of the subjects are old people, why do you think you have such interest in elderly? They do not show sadness neither happiness, what is your purpose with those portraits?
My purpose actually is get close to the people and portrayed as they are in a normal day without costumes, masks or prepared  specially for the photo. It is my tribute to every day life, to things that happens while you wait that special moment and it can be sad, happy or simply neither of them. It is a tribute to the human being and its environment. I don't have any particular interest in old people, only in people that transmit something and provoke me to get closer, can be children, old people, etc. 

-Can you imagine yourself in such a age? and how you would like be portrayed?
Ha ha ha, well I have always though I will no live longer than 50's so I don't see myself old. About to be portrayed, I think I have the syndrome of many portrait photographers that behind the camera try to get a great gesture or  expression but dislike themselves be portrayed.

-Your images evoke nostalgia more than hope, do you miss the past. (childhood, youth, etc. ) would like have live maybe 50 years before? or in other times...
I think that despite sometimes I miss moments of my childhood and youth, I am happy with my life and glad to live in this times and if well my photos transmit that, a little nostalgia, is because I am very melancholic and with my light I try t evoke that.  I am not into very dramatic scenes neither easy happiness or cliche images of postal cards. Life does not work like that.
The Willoq. Happy Basilio Chami (41) and Benigno Medina (55) returning home after a party. Cusco