ImproVISION 52 by Runa Photos

“Ecuadorian photojournalism has shed its old skin – straight-forward, traditional press photography – and it now has a shiny new skin, which pays more attention to light, layers, and the creation of images that grabs you and make you reflect on the world we live in.” Ivan Kashinsky talks about Ecuadorian Photography and the working processes behind Runa Photos collective.



From the series ImproVISION 52 by © Runa Photos


Tell us how Runa Photos came to be. What motivated you to start working collectively?

Karla and I had been working individually and as a team. We really wanted a way to show the work we did together to the world. Shortly after we created Runa, we met Misha, who became a part of the collective. We wanted to create a space in which a tight group of photographers could work together on projects, help promote each others work, as well as create a trusted “brand” that distributed high quality documentary projects in both book and digital form. We wanted to create something that would be much larger than ourselves, a collective that would be a big contributor to the world of photography both in Latin America and worldwide.


How has the experience been so far? As photography is predominantly an individual field of work, what differences have you found?

It has been a refreshing experience to work as a team. I think that when our three minds come together we become a creative force that is much stronger than any one of us alone. Working as a freelance photographer can be a daunting task, often filled with periods of being overwhelmed by the challenge or lost in self-doubt. When you have support and community it is easier to push through these periods and take your work to the next level. Although we mostly work individually, it’s good to have a team to bounce ideas off.


Talking specifically about your essay ImproVISION 52, what was the collective process like?

It was an amazing experience working together on a project. ImproVISION52 challenged us to let go of everything and shoot in a very artistic, and free, manner. The idea was that one Runa photographer would take a picture and the next week another Runa photographer would give an answer to that image: creating a call and response. It was really fun to see how a photographer would answer your photo; a total surprise on how they interpreted your work.


ImproVISION 52 moves beyond simply documentary photography flirting with other ways of storytelling. Each image is a cause and consequence of the other. How did the idea of carrying out this project come to fruition?

Impro was not really a documentary project but a way to take off the chains and subjectively interpret life in a playful kind of way. It was also a good way to interact with our community and begin a conversation on our social media platforms. The people who look at our facebook page would give names to the photos we were taking, which also influenced how each photographer would then answer the previous photo, bringing the audience into the project.


What message would you like the public to take from it?

We’d like the public to enjoy the visual journey through our lives, interpreting the photos in their own way. Our hope is that the viewer feels something when they see our photos and that they are able to reflect on their own lives while at the same time opening their minds up to new visual experiences.


What are your impressions of contemporary Ecuadorian photography?

I think Ecuadorian photography has recently taken a giant leap. Now that the Internet can be a “teacher”, opening young Ecuadorian photographers up to amazing work around the world, the quality of work being produced in Ecuador has risen to a new level. Ecuadorian photojournalism has shed its old skin – straight-forward, traditional press photography – and it now has a shiny new skin, which pays more attention to light, layers, and the creation of images that grabs you and make you reflect on the world we live in.


What are your individual and collective plans for 2015?

We have many projects that we want to continue and many that our still in the womb, but those will have to be protected and kept secret for now.


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Runa Photos was founded by Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky in 2011, and later joined by Misha Vallejo in 2012. It is a collective in which they share their joint and individual work with clients, friends, photographers, and the world. Runa means human being in Kichwa, one of the indigenous languages of Ecuador. These photographers specialise in stories about people and places they inhabit. They create intimate images that form a window into the lives of their subjects, allowing their audiences to explore and understand the lives of others. They dedicate their time to telling stories through visual projects.

The Runa members have worked in many countries across the world and have been on assignment with publications such as National Geographic, Geo or Esquire. PMH spoke to Ivan Kashinsky, one of its members, who treveals the story and creative process behind their series ImproVISION 52, featured in the PMH exhibition Ecuadorian Photography.

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