Esta Es Mi Ciudad series continues

Maya Arce performs

Maya Arce performs

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Back in 2013 I formally started a photographic series titled “Esta Es Mi Ciudad” (this is my city).

 

The series is focused on Tucson, Arizona – the city, its landscapes and people, cultural practices, artists and happenings.

 

It was both a means to delving deeper into photographing processes, and a vehicle for celebrating the extraordinary microcosm of the world that is my city.

 

La Casa Cordova

La Casa Cordova

I find myself looking at Tucson in a different way as I go about my daily life. I notice color and light and shadow in ways I never did before. I see things I barely glanced at before and now recognize their importance.

 

I’m not someone who carries a camera with me everywhere I go. I should, but Tucson in summer is a hot experience. Besides, I prefer to make carrying my camera a deliberate and focused act.

 

Cactus-Valley-3252-8-sw-dbaYes I miss many things along the way, but that makes the ones I capture more special.

 

UA Agricultural center

UA Agricultural center

I am now entering my 45th year of life in Tucson. I know the rhythm of the seasons in a general way. Photography teaches you much more about that. You notice the tracking of the sun from month to month, and the way the quality of light changes throughout the year. In summer you practically need a welder’s mask to deal with the intense sunlight. In winter it is more muted.

 

Hotel Congress in fog

Hotel Congress in fog

I try to capture a mix of ordinary and special times. Work I have conducted in conjunction with the Arizona Historical Society, as well as my documentary film work, has made me cognizant that the images I capture will speak to generations to come about what life was like in Tucson. Even in a couple of years, shots of the same street tell a story of how the city is evolving.

 

The photos also become a chronicle of my personal and artistic evolution. Older photos are worse than the ones I create now. And those that I create now are not as good as the ones I will create in years ahead.

 

Sometimes I return to an older image with new tools in the hip pocket to fix some of their flaws.

 

Cowboy-statue-DT_DSC4040-sw-dbaI never capture all of the changes my city is undergoing, nor would I want to try. There are many photographers in Tucson. Collectively we capture a good deal of Tucson’s evolution.

 

Tucson is said to be the longest continuously inhabited place in North America. Vestiges of all of the tribes and nationalities that have called Tucson home still exist. Mistakes have been made in preserving our city’s history, which is part of why photography is so important to current and future generations.

 

 

 

Sunset-UA-PG-6787-06-sw-dbaAt 62 years old, and with a herniated disc, my body doesn’t bound around the way it did in my 20s and 30s. So I have learned to plan more and exercise more care.

 

Finger-Rock-Fire_DSC1977-sw-dbaSummer is an especially wonderful time in Tucson. The monsoon rains create their own light shows, and sometimes spark wild fires that can be seen from many miles away. The desert is lush and green. The iconic saguaro cacti sometimes look like they might pop.

 

Church-sunset_DSC3808-sw-dbaFor desert rats who work in the day or just want to avoid 100-degree-plus temperatures, the nights are pure heaven. Tucson’s network of orange-ish street lamps, institutionalized to benefit astronomical observatories nearby, generate a signature light palette on the streets. In older neighborhoods some of the original street lamps still are found.

 

San Xavier Mission at dusk

San Xavier Mission at dusk

The moody textures of buildings in fading light are always inspiring. And the long exposure times needed to capture them invite ghost elements as people and traffic travel through while the iris is open.

 

One of the things I enjoy most in night shoots is meeting fellow night creatures. Sometimes it’s a homeless man or woman. I always say hello and try to have at least a brief conversation, no matter who passes by. I typically don’t photograph them, but may in the future.

 

Ballet Folklorico Tapatio

Ballet Folklorico Tapatio

My ongoing effort to produce a film about youth mariachis and folklorico dancers, and their impact on our city (titled The Mariachi Miracle), means that I am also capturing a focused slice of imagery related to that cultural phenomenon.

 

Tucson has long had a sizeable Mexican American contingent, dating from the days when the city was part of the Mexican state of Sonora, prior to the Gadsden Purchase, and to Tucson’s Presidio days when it was part of New Spain. The art, architecture, food, music, dance and culture of the Mexican American community is among Tucson’s most attractive features.

 

Saguaros_DSC6063-sw-dbaSimilarly the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui tribes continue to leave their indelible stamp on the city.

 

Moon-over-hill-dark_DSC8508-sw-dbaIt is early September and already I am seeing a significant body of work, intentional or not, that will find its way into this year’s chapter of Esta Es Mi Ciudad.

 

 

This is a small taste of what the year has presented so far.

 

 

~ by Daniel Buckley on September 3, 2015.

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