07 April 2015
07 April 2015 - Written by Luján Agusti
“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
From the series ImproVISION 52 by © Runa Photos
Tell us how Runa Photos came tobe. What motivated you to start working collectively?
Karla and I had been workingindividually and as a team. We really wanted a way to show the workwe did together to the world. Shortly after we created Runa, we metMisha, who became a part of the collective. We wanted to create aspace in which a tight group of photographers could work together onprojects, help promote each others work, as well as create a trusted“brand” that distributed high quality documentary projects inboth book and digital form. We wanted to create something that wouldbe much larger than ourselves, a collective that would be a bigcontributor to the world of photography both in Latin America andworldwide.
How has the experience been sofar? As photography is predominantly an individual field of work,what differences have you found?
It has been a refreshingexperience to work as a team. I think that when our three minds cometogether we become a creative force that is much stronger than anyone of us alone. Working as a freelance photographer can be adaunting task, often filled with periods of being overwhelmed by thechallenge or lost in self-doubt. When you have support and communityit is easier to push through these periods and take your work to thenext level. Although we mostly work individually, it’s good to havea team to bounce ideas off.
Talking specifically about youressay ImproVISION 52, what was the collective process like?
It was an amazing experienceworking together on a project. ImproVISION52 challenged us to let goof everything and shoot in a very artistic, and free, manner. Theidea was that one Runa photographer would take a picture and the nextweek another Runa photographer would give an answer to that image:creating a call and response. It was really fun to see how aphotographer would answer your photo; a total surprise on how theyinterpreted your work.
ImproVISION 52 moves beyond simplydocumentary photography flirting with other ways of storytelling.Each image is a cause and consequence of the other. How did the ideaof carrying out this project come to fruition?
Impro was not really a documentaryproject but a way to take off the chains and subjectively interpretlife in a playful kind of way. It was also a good way to interactwith our community and begin a conversation on our social mediaplatforms. The people who look at our facebook page would give namesto the photos we were taking, which also influenced how eachphotographer would then answer the previous photo, bringing theaudience into the project.
What message would you like thepublic to take from it?
We’d like the public to enjoythe visual journey through our lives, interpreting the photos intheir own way. Our hope is that the viewer feels something when theysee our photos and that they are able to reflect on their own liveswhile at the same time opening their minds up to new visualexperiences.
What are your impressions ofcontemporary Ecuadorian photography?
I think Ecuadorian photography hasrecently taken a giant leap. Now that the Internet can be a“teacher”, opening young Ecuadorian photographers up to amazingwork around the world, the quality of work being produced in Ecuadorhas risen to a new level. Ecuadorian photojournalism has shed its oldskin – straight-forward, traditional press photography – and itnow 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 theworld we live in.
What are your individual andcollective plans for 2015?
We have many projects that we wantto continue and many that our still in the womb, but those will haveto be protected and kept secret for now.
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.