Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crew Love

There are many types of students. Some students learn by reading books. Others learn by asking a series of questions. I'm the type of student who learns with hands on experience, usually outside of the classroom. With that said, Leandro and Pete are two of my greatest teachers outside of the Classroom.

In High school, I developed a sincere appreciation of traditional Hip Hop arts and culture. I left for college with this appreciation and through it I met Leandro and Pete. I not only learned lessons about being an artist from these two but learned valuable life lessons as well...

When it came to art, Pete and I were like Batman and Robin. The Dynamic Duo. The specifics I will not go into, but those were some my most dangerous but cherished experiences. From these experiences I learned about brotherhood, trust, and the nature of rivalries. I learned about symmetry, color theory, and the laws of design. I learned about social engineering, how to carry out missions, and how to get noticed... On a less dangerous level, he taught me everything from how to cook (seriously) to how to socialize at parties and clubs. But the most important lessons I learned from Pete are from his mistakes and the heart he has had to accept responsibility and rebound from them. I will always admire that the most about him. Pete is a Rock Solid Friend, Brother, and most recently Father...

I am known in my circle of friends for giving out nicknames... One of the most appropriate nicknames I have given has been Saint Dro to my friend Leandro aka Droski bka B boy Inephekt. Saint Dro would not kill an insect, I know because I have seen him go out of his way not to. The first thing thing I think of when thinking about Dro is his genuineness. There is something pure about the way he approaches relationships. In addition, I have always admired how Dro sticks to his humble upbringing without pushing his lifestyle decisions on others. Once, Dro and I were working on a piece for Pete's party and I could not get my letters right. Dro showed me the techniqes to get better letters, but left me with the task of completing the piece. I stayed up all night to get it just right and when I did, I was proud to show him and others. Dro knew exactly what buttons to push to bring the confidence out of me to complete the piece. I think all of these qualities make him a great leader. However, the greatest things that I have learned from Dro is the value of an unconditional friendship and the value of true character.

I have the most sincere respect and love for these two guys from South Florida. They have rubbed off on me in such a way that when I meet new people, they always ask if I'm from South Florida. The qualities and lessons that I have picked up from these individuals will be cherished for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stay tuned...

I have been so busy working on my new website and updating my film blog, that I have neglected to update this blog as much as I like too... What I has decided to do is have monthly instalments. I intend on having a PDF version of my blog complete with Photo projects, film reviews, and other writings.... Stay tuned for more info....

Saturday, February 21, 2009


For the past couple nights, I have set up shop in my bathroom to develop negatives for one of my current projects. As corny as it might sound, this is almost a spiritual process for me. To carry film, load film, expose film, and develop film brings me closer to my work. I believe It is this intimacy that is translated to the viewer of my photographs.

Traditionally, a photographer's contact sheet is a very personal document. I show very few people my actual contact sheets. It is the rough draft. It is the blue print. It is the sketch book. It is the essence. In a contact sheet you see the photographers mistakes, hesitations, and shooting habits. This is not something for everyone to see.

While in college, one of my professors let me borrow a DVD. This DVD, Contacts Vol. 1, Portraits of Contemporary Photographers was a collection of photographers showing and speaking about the contact sheets in which some of their most praised work stemmed from. For any photographer to share their contact sheets with the public is a bold statement.

William Klein's segment was one of my personal favorites. When I ran across it on youtube, I knew I had to share it. Enjoy.

Friday, February 6, 2009


When I was a child I thought my Cousin Alvin was God. To be honest, I thought everyone else did too. Women would woo in the presence of his natural charm and cunning looks (it runs in the family) while men would gaze in admiration of him on basketball courts and football fields. As a matter of fact, my Father once told me that Alvin could make it professionally in any sport that he chooses.

Unfortunately, the choices that Alvin made did not lead him to the limelight but places far darker. Life happens. We all make mistakes.
Sometimes opportunities appear to make up for those mistakes… The year before I left for Florida A&M University, Alvin began his college career. During my Junior year, I moved into a house with him and another cousin. I rarely saw my cousin Alvin and at times his constant absence could be alarming.

During my trip to Tallahassee last week, I decided to stay with my cousins while I handled some business. While I was there, I found out some very surprising news… Alvin is going to be a Father. I realized that this was an important milestone in his life and decided to focus my camera on him and his girlfriend Shana as they prepare for parenthood.

To say the least, my cousin and I are opposites. If it weren’t for the slight resemblance, you would never know that we are cousins. Alvin has a street tough persona while I maintain a much more polished facade. With so many questions unanswered about our family’s history, I believe our search for Identity has lead us down different paths. Although we express ourselves in very different ways, It is our blood that ultimately makes us Acostas.

While photographing him, I realized my cousin had changed.... It was obvious that the news about becoming a father had put a few grey hairs on his head. My cousin displayed a new sense commitment, responsibility, and maturity. I saw in Alvin the potential to become a great Father.

This photo is a portrait of my cousin Alvin at an important milestone in his life. Although he isn’t god, he is a Father… which is pretty much the same thing when you think about it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Video 21

Growing up in Metropolitan Atlanta, I was raised on chains and corporations. There was McDonald’s for hamburgers and Blockbuster for movies.

While attending college in Tallahassee, Florida, I began to frequent the local Mom and Pop stores. There was Super Perros for Hamburgers and Video 21 for movies.

Now that I have graduated and temporarily moved back to Atlanta, I miss Video 21 the most…

Video 21 is a place where everyone knows my name. It is my Cheers. It is a place where I could lose a couple hours talking cinema and then lose a few more watching a film recommended to me from that conversation. I met Directors like Frederico Fellini, Francois Truffant, Wong Kar-Wai, and Jim Jarmusch at this store. I was introduced to films like Buffalo 66, Street Trash, and Husbands. Video 21 is more than a movie store, it is my private airport. The store’s Foreign Films were my plane tickets out of the Sunshine State when I could no longer stand its “southern charm.”

On my recent trip back to Tallahassee, I stopped by Video 21 and ran into my friend and store clerk Paul. After catching up and talking cinema, Paul said something that has stuck with me since. “Netflicks is trying to kill Independent Film stores.”

I immediately thought of the repercussions… Would Video 21 be open the next time I came back to Tallahassee?

In Atlanta, I have Videodrome. Although It isn’t close to my soul like Video 21, they have a lot of film’s Video 21 does not… Competition aside, what makes Tallahassee unique is Video 21 and what makes Atlanta unique is Videodrome.

What would life be like if these stores were driven out of business?

These independent stores are cultural hubs for a city’s musicians, artists, and writers. Without these stores, the cinema experience becomes impersonal. Whether you want to talk cinema or want a recommendation, the store is a gumbo of ideas and inspiration. There is nothing like meeting a store clerk who has similar taste in films and all you have to do is walk in and ask him what to rent. If you feel uncomfortable with nagging the store clerk, you can always look out for the “Don’t Miss” or “Must Watch” stickers on the DVD cases that past and present clerks have placed on some of their favorite films. Besides, there is nothing like the immediacy of going to a film store and picking up a film that you want to see rather than waiting for it in the mail…

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration 2009

Last Tuesday I had the privellege to witness and be a part of the millions of people who converged on the National Mall to witness the Inauguration of 44th President ofThe United States, Barack Obama. Some of my photographs from this event can be seen here.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Consider Me American

Note: I orginaly wrote this in July of 2007. I thought it would be interesting to repost this in anticipation of Barack Obama's Inauguration in 5 days. Enjoy...

Historically, the descendents of American slaves have been placed under America's dinner table.

Out of this solitude comes a unique sense of community. From the Jim Crow era's "black only" diners to the modern day black table found in most suburban high schools, those considered African-Americans have found comfort and acceptance in numbers.

However, questions of membership qualifications, idealism, and identity are brought forth when the term African-American is used to describe a group of Americans.

Born out of slavery and segregation, the modern African-American community has been a creation to give those cast out by slavery and social injustice a sense of acceptance and a greater good than themselves. Although genuine in its conception, this artifact of the past does more harm for modern Americans than good. When a country continues to accept certain people only as a group rather than individuals, segregation is in existence. Sadly, America's current segregation is largely self-imposed. The use of the term African-American is a form of segregation in itself; it isolates a specific section of Americans. Although not as extreme as the civil rights era, modern segregation has more socio-economic implications yet is still looked at through the lens of color.

What are the qualifications to be an African American? Looking at the term, one would think a person had to be directly from Africa. If this were the case, what about an African immigrant who chooses America as his new? Furthermore, what if that African immigrant were white? Is this term merely used to note skin color? The descendents of slaves in America have become numb to the term African-American and the contempt in its usage and implications. The term obviously notes a common ancestry, but those considered African-American know African is not the only ancestry found in their blood. Do members of this community simply ignore individual "roots" to find acceptance in the group? Why isn't the term "American" enough to describe an individual? Why does an American have to be classified according to color?

Interestingly, the Americans of this community are part of a socialist group within the U.S.' Democratic government system. Every four years, candidates fight for a supposed "black vote", as if all black people in America secretly get together and decide which candidate they will singularly support. This form of thinking has dangerous implications, because it sees African Americans as a whole instead of single entities and therefore speaks to this supposed group in ideal terms. It merely treats individuals as a group because of the color of their skin -- but this is not the fault of politicians, as it has become accepted within the group. What is neglected is the fact that Americans vary in education, social status, and ideals. Although this group can vary dramatically in these areas too, the common bond of color remains at the forefront, which is dangerous for the individual and the nation as a whole.

Whether it is television, books, or even art, a separate market has been created for the African-American community, further alienating this group from the rest of America. These various facets of the media exemplify what it means to be African American. It perpetuates stereotypes and provides a template for what one has to be in order to fit into this group. Again, from a historic sense, these forms of media provided a sense of identity and an outlet for individuals of this group. However, instead of being innovative, these media seem to have transformed into caricatures of themselves. They have been coined African-American and will never brake the mold because the mold is the acceptance.

Teenage years for any individual are a very confusing time. Peer pressure is common through high school years. Minorities, specifically those labeled African-Americans, go through an extreme form of peer pressure through expectations stimulated by images produced by the media. Whenever an American of this group is an outstanding student, speaks standard English, and his cultural interest vary, he is almost always considered to be "acting white". A large emphasis is placed on sports by individuals of this group. It is expected that the members of this group are exceptional in basketball or football. This is accepted by members of this group and also by society as a whole the proper identity for these individuals. This contrasts greatly to their Caucasian peers who have a wide selection of identities to choose from. The terms African-American and black limits these students from truly socializing in an unbiased environment due to expectations imposed by themselves and society.

In all, African-American is an archaic term used to segregate American citizens by skin color. When used, expectations of ideology, culture, and identity are preconceived. In turn, the people this term is applied to can never be truly treated as individuals. Sixty years after the civil rights movement, America should be beyond skin color. Until the term African-American is abandoned to distinguish Americans from one another, this group can never truly assimilate into society.