Shanghai 24: Photographer Camilo Fuentealba Captures Universality in Surreal Suburbs
Street photography is opportunistic by nature. It’s uncertain where the road will lead and, often, it’s not clear what you’ve captured until looking back. Camilo Fuentealba calls this the “revelation.” When happenstance left the Brooklyn-based photographer stuck in the Shanghai suburb of Pudong after a missed layover, he decided to have a look around. With Canon in hand, Fuentealba tapped both flash and natural light to capture Shanghai’s uniquely-filtered color palette. He studied the faces, the scene, this singular place: daylight, smog, frowns, smiles, juxtaposed to illuminate a multidimensional atmosphere unlike any other.
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What do you look for when you are on the streets?
There are so many levels to the Psyche of Street Photography that its revelation is part of the reason I continue to pursue this form of photography. I think, for me, a lot of it starts on a subconscious level and as things are unfolding in front of you it reveals itself and your conscious goes that’s it! But at the end of the day it’s about humanity, the struggle of everyday life, the beauty that goes along with it, irony and creating something beautiful that can maybe last for generations to come. Like a good art house film.
Are you sneaky or forthcoming about pointing your camera at a stranger?
At the moment my style is very much forthcoming and I have been photographing in this style for approximately 2 1/2 years. A style that especially suited my 24-hour experience in Shanghai. There is so much you can learn by studying people’s faces and the way they present themselves.
Looking back on Shanghai 24, or even your street work as a whole, do you see universal elements?
I think there is definitely a common thread in my photos for reasons I described in the first question. Life is life whether you’re in China or the United States the only things that make it different photographically speaking are the physical elements and characteristics that differentiate us as well as the photographer’s style and point of view and time, of course.
Support independent art. Shanghai 24 is set to be published by Tungsten Press with your help. Contribute $5 if you appreciate what you see here. For a copy of your own, consider a $25 pledge. Original prints and a street workshop with Camilo are also highlighted at Kickstarter.
see more of Camilo’s work in the Metropolis of Color Noise and at camilofuentealba.com