Interview with Emmanuel Rosario

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Q: Hi Emmanuel! Tell us something about your life and yourself. 
 
I am a first generation Dominican American whose parents migrated to Harlem, New York in the late 80s. Being raised in Harlem in the 90s shaped my perspective on life and my interactions with others, an experience that is directly reflected on my current lifestyle and my approach to photography. 
 
 
Q: When did you start taking pictures? Was there a specific reason? 
 
I started taking pictures when I was in high school, my poor grades in middle schools did not allowed me to attend a school that had an advance academic program so I was placed in a zone high school. It was a blessing and a curse. The high school offered a few majors to choose from and photography what the only one that caught my attention.   
 

Q: What stands out from your pictures are the people. Are you always surrounded by unique people or do you look for these uncommon subjects for your shots? 
 
I don’t like photographing just anyone; I am interested in individuals that prefer alternative lifestyles, ones where mutual respect is at the core – people who are true to themselves. My friends are Characters in this world that live by their own rules and have their own unique way of viewing life. A life that encompasses love, chaos, compassion and the desire for some new height of excitement.  
 

Q: Your photography is strictly related to your life and your lifestyle. What kind of emotion would you like to evoke to the people who look at your pictures? 
 
I want the viewer to question and feel the moment in each frame, bringing them into my world. We all choose how we live based on what we know and how we choose to experience life. My friends and I have a unique way of viewing and interacting with one another. We are not people who are complacent and let time roll by us. We take advantage of the little time we have and let our imagination run. I want to viewer to feel some of those moments and emotions to take it upon themselves to be an individuals, and take risks. 
 
Q: Why do you still shoot film? And what is your favorite setup camera/lens/film? 
 
So to be honest, most of my recent photographs are digital. I started to phase out film, because I could not keep spending the money and time to develop and
scan film. I rather shoot digital and have money to travel and party. Film now a days has become something of a luxury, the cost of the film, development and scanning, is a bit too much for my budget. 
 
I still respect the visual aesthetic of film and spend a lot of time editing my photographs to emulate film as closely as I can. 
 
My current camera setup is a Nikon D810 with a 24mm, 35mm, 50mm 85mm lens, along with my Yashica T5. 
 
 
Q: How social media helped people to know your work and push your popularity? Do you think that 20 years ago you would have been as popular as you are now? 
 
Social media has played a major role in sharing my photographs with people around the world. Having access to multiple platforms where I can post my photographs and have people from all over the world randomly stumble on it or share it with their friends has benefited me greatly. I don’t think that 20 years ago I would have been as popular as I am now, but I would say that I also attribute part of my success to my travels and interactions with those I have met and photograph along my journey. Life is not all about interactions through social media, I understand that we live in a digital era, but there is more value to actual human connections and interactions than just online interactions. 
 

Q: You’ve been in different places and travelled a lot. What is the most amazing place to photograph? 
 
Motel 666. This is an imaginary, self-made motel that my friend and I “built” in the desert between California and Arizona. We created Motel 666 in 2016 when we were driving around and discovered an abandoned house off the side of the road. On first sight, this place was a dump; a place where there has been no life in over 50 years and everything was abandoned and decrepit, taken over by nature. To us, we saw a playground, where anything goes. We were constantly ‘remodeling’ with junk that we found and brought in from outside. Motel 666 had most of the amenities of a home, living room, 'toilet’, sleeping quarters and even a spot to cook. It had the basics, but by no means was this is a place anyone, even us, would want to spend more than two days in. The weather is unbearably hot and there is no water anywhere near, but it is a place where our imaginations went wild and we felt truly free from all social constructs. 

 
 Q: Is there a picture of you that you like the most? Can you tell us why? 

 
This is a photograph was taken by Thibault of Theo and I. I owe a lot of my experiences and travels to Theo. We met in 2012 on our first road trip across the USA and it was three months of laughers, fights, breakdowns, and many bottles of whisky later it crafted our friendship, and making us blood brothers. Friendship is one thing I hold dear to me, maybe it stems from not having any friends growing up, but I have learned how valuable it is to have friends around you that genuinely care and want to see you grow. And that is Theo. Thank you brother for being a true friend, I love you.  

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 Q: Let’s leave photography for a while. You look like a free spirit, kind of nomad, how is it workable to lead this wild and free lifestyle in a world that imposes us the opposite? 

 
I am curious and I take risks. I don’t like to feel “safe” or complacent with my life. I like to feel fear and push my limits, try new things and “master” them. Not perfect them but have a understanding of what i am doing and make it like a game, where I grow and get better, once I am done with it, I move on to the next. Always growing and learning. I love failures, I embrace them and learn from the many mistakes I have made, to me it is essential in the learning process. Many of us stress ourselves too much with failures and mistakes. I don’t want to live a life full of stress, many of us are overworked and super stressed out all the time, as it is, and to me, that is cancerous to our overall mental, physical and emotional health of a person.  
 


Q: Do you have any forthcoming projects? 
 
A few months a go I had an interview with Find and Seek and spoke about a trip I was going to take to Europe but I got into a near death accident that stopped me from taking that trip to Europe. In January things will be a bit different. I cannot go too into details but I will be doing some traveling around. Making my way to Buenos Aires, Argentina where I plan to set myself up for a year or two. With that I plan on actually sitting down and finish my first photo book. 
 
 
Q: Suggest us a movie or an album.

Album: Heavy Meta by Ron Gallo.  Movie: BoyHood, by Richard Linklater

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All images © Emmanuel Rosario