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…