On this exercise we are asked for three different subjects suggesting a specific location where they would like to be portrayed. Their choice is based on personal or aesthetic reasons or maybe the chosen place has a special meaning for them.
I wanted to title this group of portraits that I present here as the “Autumn Portraits”, in which participated three good friends of mine, who are also good friends between them. The portraits were made in three consecutive days of November, hence the title, after having negotiated the details with them a couple of days before.
The autumn cold is present in the three portraits, since all of them dress coats, which gives some unity to this little series. In a metaphorical sense, the title of ” Autumn Portraits” also refers to the age of three women, who are around their fifties, and who manifest their maturity through their personal histories, memories and experiences that they related to me during the conversations we had during the photo session.
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
― John Donne, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose
Each of them previously chose the place where she would like to be photographed and explained to me a little more in detail her reasons. In addition to the autumn theme, there is another temporal reference that is related to the content of the conversation that I had with each one, where I established an affinity between the identity and character of each one with a specific chronological time: Past, present and future. This narrative license will be useful to contextualize and give meaning to each of the photos that I have selected.
As always my first intention was to present the photographs in the same order in which they were taken, trying to treat the subject with documentary accuracy, although finally I decided to present them following the logical order that dictates the chronological narrative that I devised to present the photographs.
Mónica. Reading the past
Memories that are entangled between the old stones of the streets and buildings of the historic center of Vigo. Memories that have the form of the echo of the children’s voices when passing under the door of Quirós or the mouldy smell of the doorway in family house in the Constitution Square. We walk through streets that crisscross the memory of the family chronicle, that Monica shares with me narrating it with care and affection. Three old photos from her family album and the book by Agustín Fernández Paz “A Dama da Luz” to illustrate this tour.
Monica does not speak of the past with nostalgia, nor does she use it as an inexhaustible resource of anecdotes with which to give conversation. Teacher and person with a great cultural concern, she surprises me with the meticulous precision of her narration, full of quotations and references, with which she reconstructs the memory of her own identity.
I had several photos available, but it seemed to me that this portrait with the open book of Fernandez Paz and her stare lost in a distant point in the Plaza de los Pescadores (Fishermen Square) sums up perfectly what this encounter with her was.
Irene. Time present
The story of Irene is a succession of present times, and how she tells and what I know about her, all of them lived with intensity. With the same intensity with which her conversation flows, alive and noisy like a torrent of water in a spring. Everything about Irene is superlative, starting with her energetic and willing attitude, her tremendously large rings, her white rabbit fur coat… Wherever Irene goes, everything starts to move. She organizes, energizes and gives orders: verbs of movement, verbs for here and now, verbs for the present. Her feet are well anchored on the ground and he walks decisively in life: “I have what I wanted to have.” Irene does not look back with melancholy or regret at the past, nor seems to be overwhelmed by the uncertainties of the future.
She tells me the story of her uncle, an entrepreneur who studied to become a priest, set up a chain of hairdressing academies and ended up entering a Benedictine convent. The same impetuous blood runs through Irene’s veins, and makes her share that ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of the present. All this admires me, but above all her vitality and optimism with which she faces a permanent present that insists like the waves of the sea constantly beating on the shore. No matter the wave of yesterday did, or the tomorrow wave will do, each wave is a moment of intense present.
Maite. Fighter of the future
Her recent history is marked by disease, that terrible illness whose only mention scares. Maite seems a fragile and delicate person, but her personal trajectory reveals a strong being, with great will and determination. The place she chose for her portrait and the arguments she gave me are in tune with her mood and desire to be alive. The Castro Park is a place that is very close to where she lives and during her illness in 2000 the place took a fundamental role in her path to recovery. Surrounded by trees and nature, with the view of the Ria de Vigo dominating the landscape, she felt in that place the joy of living, enjoying the sun and nature in the company of her son Alejandro. She clung to life in the liveliest part of the city. Her determination to get over the illness, to earn her own future, takes her out of the confinement of the illness, and impulses herself to reconquer life, breathing the clean air of that immense sky that can be seen from the hill of the Castro.