Guestagrammer of the Week: Charlotte Kesl
Momenta welcomes this week’s guestagrammer, Charlotte Kesl!
Current job: Communications Manager for Project Cordillera & Freelance Photographer
Current location: Gainesville, FL
Connection to Momenta: Assisted Jamie Rose in DC in 2007, attended Project Uganda in 2008, Momenta Workshops’ first research assistant in 2009, Project Sierra Leone 2015 Instructor & Project Colombia 2016 Instructor
Tell us about your journey as an image-maker and how you got to where you are today.
My dad was an artist, and I grew up listening to him constantly talk about art and creating. He was a professor and so, in some ways, I was another pupil who absorbed (sometimes reluctantly) everything he had to say. He painted, did sculpture and ceramics but not photography. I think that’s one of the main reasons I first picked up a camera. I studied International Studies and Visual Media as an undergraduate. I thought I wanted to do fashion and commercial work so I interned for the photographer-at-large of Vanity Fair one summer in New York. The experience didn’t click with me. I went back to DC and assisted for Jamie Rose before Momenta was a company. That’s when I fell in love with documentary photography. I went to Uganda for the first time in 2008, and I’ve been hooked with documenting international development projects ever since. I’ve lived in six different countries over the past six years.
What stories or issues are you most passionate about covering?
Anything with a human component. As general as that sounds, my true love about photography is that it allows me to approach and talk to people I would have never otherwise had the opportunity to connect with. I’m most interested in covering public health and girl/child educational projects when I’m working abroad, but I’ve recently spent an extended period of time in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida for the first time in ten years. I’ve seen the south in a completely new light. I went along with a friend of mine a few weeks ago because he wanted to photograph Florida cypress trees at sundown. We went to this remote boardwalk outside of town and there were two fishermen catching their dinner. My friend put his waders on and got some great images, while I stayed on the boardwalk taking portraits of these fishermen, learning about catfish and their families.
Where do you look for inspiration for your work: books, movies, authors, photographers, art, certain people?
I have been so fortunate to be richly surrounded by creative souls my entire life. One thing about being back in my hometown at the moment is having access to so many artists and creators in a small, supportive community. I can see why my dad liked it here. I have an absurd amount of photography books that my dad started collecting for me when I was younger, and it continues to grow. I could spend hours in museums and typically veer toward the photography floor. When I lived in Madrid I lived around the corner from Reina Sofía and walked through so often the security guards began to recognize me.
What social media or news feeds do you follow regularly?
NYT Lens blog is my homepage and I follow TIME’s Lightbox pretty consistently. I also follow The Guardian’s Poverty matters blog. I try to give myself daily Facebook and Instagram time limits though! I’d much rather discuss news than read about it on a small screen.
What is one passion you have outside of photography that might come as a surprise to our readers?
I’m currently photographing and cataloging my collection of my dad’s artwork. He passed away in 2012 right after I finished my Masters, and I have spent countless hours organizing his work. It’s been a therapeutic process, but also it’s made me think a lot about legacy and what we leave behind. I’ve inherited much of his work and his collection, and I have big aspirations in the coming years.
What can we expect to see next week from your “guestagramming” on our Momenta Instagram account?
I’ll be sharing a personal project about my dad and a selection of memorable portraits I’ve taken from my work in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Peru, and Colombia.
#seizethemomenta, and follow @momentaworkshops on Instagram June 7 – June 13 to see Charlotte’s take on the world!
About the author…
Manuela Marin Salcedo
Manuela Marin Salcedo is a research and development team member and content developer at Momenta Workshops. Her expertise is in visual communications and social media.