Guestagrammer of the Week: Alexandra Sanchez
Momenta welcomes this week’s guestagrammer, Alexandra Sanchez!
Connection to Momenta:
I attended Project New Orleans 2017: Working with Nonprofits and followed Arise Schools, located in the 9th ward.
Tell us about your journey as an image-maker and how you got to where you are today.
I started creating images when I was 12. My first image wasn’t made, it was found, in my backyard. I had seen a flower – pink, perfect – and decided to snap a photo. With some more inquiry into the camera I was using I found you could change the colors of the image by changing the settings, so I turned this pink flower into a black and white one, a sepia-toned one, manipulating it and showing it proudly to my mother as if it were a work of art.
From that point on I became obsessed with documenting every bit and piece of my life through photography. I never left the house without my camera. Once I reached high school, I saved up and bought a film camera, I read books on famous photographers, I started a photography class at a local summer camp to fill up my summer community service requirements. I was accepted into my high school International Baccalaureate photography class and learned about the dark room. I spent my lunch breaks in the darkroom developing, learning, creating.
I went on to the University of Florida to pursue photojournalism- deciding it to be the best bridge between my curiosity of the world and my love for photography. I spent every summer at internships, founded the National Press Photographers Association Gator Chapter at UF and went on study-abroad photojournalism trips to Berlin. I drove my mom’s minivan to various photojournalism conferences up the east coast with my fellow NPPA chapter in tow.
When I graduated college I decided to bike across the US in search of a story of my own and when I finished I found myself in Miami taking a job as an editor for a documentary film production company, learning about investigative documentaries and about video editing. Once that project finished I decided to take my camera and computer on the road and I spent 3 months in the Middle East looking for stories, learning, discovering. I took a job as a photographer for an educational travel company and spent my summer exploring the jungles and oceans of Costa Rica. I made my way to Peru to climb Machu Picchu and today I sit on a plane heading to Iceland.
What stories or issues are you most passionate about covering?
I love human interest stories, most specifically stories about women prevailing the immense amounts of hardships thrown against them. I find myself drawn to women in different parts of the world and their plights for equality because I can identify with it. I find human migration and dynamics as family units to be a constant theme in my work. Growing up in a close-knit Hispanic family I find the family unit to be a crucial part of my being and that tends to play into my work.
A new vein in my work is how people and the environment interact with each other and how this has become a pressing issue for our planet. I find the more I travel the more I feel myself finding home in the natural and authentic spaces we are currently losing. I want to be able to show those left in their cubicles that the world is worth fighting for and its environment is where we can keep that wonder and mysticism alive.
Where do you look for inspiration for your work: books, movies, authors, photographers, art, certain people?
I’ve been more than lucky to be able to travel to many different places. I don’t usually have a lot of money to do it but I put my resources into experiencing and meeting people from all different factions of life and witnessing different ways of living. I find my inspiration in the places I have very little in common with, the different makes me question the ease in which we live in that one track mindset, the ideas we have grown up with and how that can evolve. I have learned more about life in the spaces where I don’t know the language and I have little overlap with the culture. I read voraciously and I try to read authors who come from different places, time periods, genders and so on. The more opposite the better. I find that engaging myself in different ways of thinking will lead me to a better understanding of my subjects.
I also watch a lot of movies. Documentaries, fiction, non fiction all have their part to play- it can be anything from the way the camera pans the room as a new filming technique to the way the actors interact with each other in different situations that I find interesting and look for in real life- which I find more often than not. Directors take from real life heavily and when I can find that authenticity in everyday life I am able to notice and document it.
What social media or news feeds do you follow regularly?
Mostly work of other photojournalists, primarily women. I have been following @WomenPhotograph and @Diversify- both great resources to understand different perspectives and underrepresented photojournalist doing great work. I try to follow as much as I can from as many different kinds of sources- the art to me is finding the stories that make the viewer question- the mystery behind the work is what tends to pull me in. I love images that make you wonder how that photographer came to be in that intimate space, how were they able to get that close and have their subjects let their guard down so eagerly.
What is one passion you have outside of photography that might come as a surprise to our readers?
I got my yoga teacher training certificate a little over a year ago. I had been working multiple jobs (three in total), as well as taking freelance work on the weekends to pay off some student loans. I created a sort of hell for myself for a good 11 months trying to do it all. So I decided to take up Ayurvedic meditation and take my yoga practice to another level. I practice meditation daily, wherever I can – sometimes on planes – I do it to regroup and cleanse my mind of the work I’ve done that day. It helps keep the demons of self-doubt at bay. I’d like to begin to experiment with mixing yoga and contemporary dance and make that my next venture in self-care.
What can we expect to see this week from your guestagramming on our Momenta Instagram account?
I was able to work with Arise Schools, an amazing school with incredible students and faculty. I’ll be sharing my images with documenting the way this school felt more like a home than a building. It was incredible to see the way the teachers really and truly kept their students in line but gave them a loving place to be able to confide in them and learn. The students are dynamic and engaging and it was a real joy being able to document them simply do them.
#Seizethemomenta, and follow @momentaworkshops on Instagram to see this photography feature!
About the author…
Cosima Reichenbach is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media.