Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Quito, August 13, 2019.
I come from a well educated family, thank god. And I say this because this is a blessing that not a lot of people have. Where one is born regardless of gender (region, country) and in the conditions where this happens (low social class, middle class or upper class) is perhaps one of the greatest lucks any human can ever encounter, besides the fact of what gender you are born with, because landing for instance in a well off environment can make a difference in one's life. A person, regardless of its gender, who is born to a poor background might have to fight more in life than someone from a rich background.
In my case I was born into a family of well off and most importantly well educated people. My grandfather, who for 60 years build a prosperous civil engineering company (and who took over the role of our father, because my real father was never there), was a man of extraordinary education and literacy. He lived until 91 years of age, was bilingual in spanish and english, was a very generous person, and had a Masters Degree in urban planning, architecture and civil engineering from IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology). He was also a Free Mason of the highest ranking here in Ecuador. He loved to travel all over the world when on break from running his construction company here in Ecuador, and he read books and magazines like I have never seen anyone do in my life. He also had a beautiful wife (my beautiful living grandmother) , that taught him about beauty and details in life. And so they had four kids, my mother being the eldest of them all. Before he died three years ago, he bonded a family consisting of 25 people. Now, after his death, the family has grown. Me and my brothers we were born in a time span between 1976 and 1980. We were our grandparents first grandchildren. I was born in 1979 which makes me the middle guy of my mom's bunch.
By the time I was born, my grandparents brought a property just outside of Quito in a location called Tumbaco and they turned it into a safe haven for all of us to enjoy the weekends. The property includes a Japanese bridge over a laguna, surrounded acres of beautiful polished lawns and trees that vary in size and species. It is simply a dream space. When I was a little rascal sometimes we would go there to sleep on a Saturday night because the mansion in within the property has a total of 5 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom in three main levels. One of my faintest memories that I have of anything is entering every bedroom and seeing shelves of packed National Geographic Magazines from the 1960´s onwards and was five to six years old and I was just dazzled what I saw in those magazines: Pictures and pictures more pictures and reportages of the most incredible adventures, places and people on the planet, and I was starting to learn some English in school, but what caught my attention was the imagery, the photography. I can't explain what a profound impact that had on me, looking at these extraordinary photographs the the Wonderfull 1960´s adds, and learning about geography!!! Also, hidden between them I used to find issues of Harper´s Bazaar from the sixties. Both these magazines took me to far away lands, with beautiful and interesting people and with essays written by the best journalists of the era. That was my introduction to the world of magazines, and image making, even though at that age I really did not have any clue of who was Helmut Newton or Dick Avedon, or that I myself would become 30 years later an image maker myself.
Fast fowarding a number of years later in my life, (After a 5 year stint in the USA), I find myself living in Paris studying Film Directing and Screen writing. I did a Master of Fine Arts in Film Directing and Screen writing at EICAR. The city of light opened my eyes to the PLANET. I learned to speak French and the city introduced me to all the things I have always liked: cinema, the arts, fashion, style and everything that was avant garde and technical in the art of motion picture making and photography. I learned how to frame a shot, how to write scenes, what each lens with a different focal point could and could not do. I learned about staging, and I learned to spot and create my own proper visual narrative. This meant more than gold to me. I remember one of art production professors telling us all (and boy we came from all over the world), something like this: You people have to go to galleries, go to museums, buy magazines, appreciate photography and learn about the different arts because cinema is a sum of all arts, and the more you cultivate yourself, the richer your work would become, and of course I thought that she was right.
So, in the midst of me attending school and prepping my short films there, every weekend I would go to Le Marais to a book shop called ¨Les motes a la bouche¨. This place became one of my favorite places to hang out during the weekends. It was a gay bookshop, but the quality of what they sold in literature and art books was simply extraordinary. I remember the further down you went the more naughty the material sold. They had everything from proust to Warhol, Diana Vreeland, Mario Testino and soo much more, and of course, I would buy every week a book about art, photography and so on. How much money I spend on them while inmate in Paris I don't know. Probably 4.000 Euros. But this was the place where I really started to learn who the hell was Scorsese, Bergman, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and David Lachapelle. Aside from spending most of my income there, I would also go to the Virgin Megastore in the Champs Elysees and buy 3 dvd films every week. Right before my magical stay in Paris was over (after 3 years) and with the dawn of closing everything and moving back to Ecuador to prepare my thesis film Jackie, I looked at my wonderfully crafted collection of books and dvds and I told myself that I am not going to get rid of all my collections and I basically shipped packed all my books, dvd´s alongside the nine Kodak film stock cans that the school gave me to shoot my film in two big suitcases that were shipped two weeks before I left France. This was May 2010. My film was shot in late November of that year, and the first cut was done in April 2011. Then I went I went to Canada to live for almost a Year, and in May 2012, my film was finally released to a bunch of film festivals, which got me some awards here and there. Then, later that year I came back to Ecuador and I bought myself a Canon 60D with a few lenses and I started to do photography, but I was always interested in photographic subjects and people and the more I did it, the more I started looking for inspirations in fashion magazines. This is the point where I truly started to embrace Vogue, and everything around it, because as bad as a cliche it might sound, my mantra was and is always if you want to be the best you have to learn from the best.
All of my hero photographers have shot for Vogue, all of them. I can name 20 or 30, and I'm talking about Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Helmut Newton, Snowdon, Peter Lindberg, Anton Corbijn, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Horst, Annie Leibowitz, Guy Bourdain, David Baily, Donovan, Albert Watson, and Patrick Demarchelier to mention more, and not even counting the new wave of extraordinary talents hitting the stands like the brilliant dutch duo Inez & Vinood, the fav Turkish and welsh duo Mert Alas & Marcus Piggot, or the Italian duo Luigi & Diango.
What I learned from Vogue is that the work and editorials are as cinematic as any film shot in Hollywood, Bollywood, Mexicowood, Dallywood or whatever. There is a visual narrative in every page spread. When Grace Coddlington presents you the reader a fashion editorial, she is telling you a story in 15 pages with photography of the highest level. Wether its Alice in Wonderland or a girl walking with her lover on a forest, there is always a story behind.
She thinks about the stories she is about to shoot, crafts them, and hires the photographer who can shoot them and of course the team of assistants, models, make up artists, and set designers that are going to take the reader to dream land, and Vogue does this every month of every year the magazine has been published.
Last year during fall, I spent a month in Italy and the Netherlands. I took my camera wherever I was, shooting a photo series of mine called Myopia (with you can buy the E book at the bottom link on our website), and to no surprise, I brought every major September issue from all the Vogue editions that I could get my hands on. Walking towards the duomo in Florence In my hands I had the September issues of Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, American Vogue and Vogue España. I was the happiest gay lad photographer in the universe, and while my mother was telling me that I was crazy because these things weight a fortune, and where was I going to put them in our luggage etc, I did`t care at all because these are all bibles to me. They are like golden books of knowledge, that if you compare to other fashion magazines like Bazaar or whatever, it makes them look less interesting and frankly, very very boring. I think about the work of the late great editor of Italian Vogue Franca Sozzani and I can go insane. Or I think about what Edward Enningful is doing at British Vogue and saying: He will one day edit American Vogue, and I of course think of the massive work Anna Wintour does at American Vogue, and to the industry in general and everything that is consider a rival magazine pales in comparison. Think about how Vogue has helped the Met museum by staging every first Monday of may the Met Gala. Think about the fashion grants for young aspiring designers. The work is just impressive not to say the least.
Last July (that is a few weeks ago), I was on vacation in Miami, and as usual I brought all the major fashion Magazines from July and August: Vogue, Elle, Harper´s, V mag and Vanity Fair. Vogue´s august issue includes a cover of Ariana Grande and a story styled by Toone Goodman and shot by Annie Leibowitz and a variety of reportages about how women in the fashion industry are overtaking important roles, with an intro letter from the editor from Anna Wintour, brilliantly as she is, explaining this phenomenon. Then I opened up the August issue of Harper's Bazaar and the differences are just to obvious to tell. First they have Serena Williams in the cover looking as big as a Louis Vuitton luggage case. Then, Glenda Bailey delivers a self enhancing letter from the editor briefly outlining the day she was named Damme at Buckingham Palace a few weeks ago. Does anyone care about that? How is that a force of a change? As an editor, what's important is to foresee where fashion is going, and not if you were knighted or made Damme. Its a great honor for her, but as a leader of fashion her role is to push the industry forward like Anna Wintour or Edward Enningfull of British Vogue. Did you know that his September issue is called faces of change and that it is guest edited by the duchess of Essex? From what I have read, this issue focuses on a number of woman who are changing our world, not just in fashion, but in culture and politics. That's the difference between Harper´s and Vogue. For me, Vogue is much more than a fashion magazine. It is a beacon of hope for many people around the world. As a photographer, Vogue is my bible.
Now, you the reader, may ask yourself, if I live in Ecuador and I love Vogue, how then do I get my hands on to it? Well, before in my travels I would spend about 100 dollars worth of buying the magazines and the brilliant books they produce. I would bring them home to Ecuador and I keep them like treasure hunt trophies. Now, a week ago, I decided to subscribe to the magazine for a year. The cost is 70 dollars and it includes shipping. They said in an email it should take about 4 weeks (that's how long my Tom Ford book took) to arrive here. I don't really care if its 4,5, or 6 weeks as long as I get them. I can't wait to read this September issue that features an amazing cover and editorial of Taylor Swift shot by Inez & Vinnood. It looks quite simply amazing and fresh!!!! And of course, I cannot wait to see the amazing photo adds by Gucci, Versace, Dior and Fendi telling us what to wear this season, because September as one knows is the January of Fashion.