Photographer to Watch: Alvaro Keding

An image from the "Tailored Habitats" series.

Alvaro Keding is a Columbian-born, New York City-based photographer who recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Photography. He was a winner in PDNedu's 2014 Student Photo Contest for his series "Tailored Habitats," a series devoted to the beautiful oddities of zoos and museums, where nature and artificiality meet. His other ongoing series, "In the City," echoes the timeless qualities of the film noir style. In both projects, Keding is an astute observer of his surroundings, immersing the viewer into each world.
See more of his work at www.alvarokeding.com.

Jacqui Palumbo - How did you develop your "Tailored Habitats" project? What first attracted you to zoos and other habitats with artificial elements?

Alvaro Keding - I’ve lived in big cities my whole life and have grown up with a very narrow view and experience of nature. I realized that my relationship with the natural world was limited to places like zoos, parks and museums of natural sciences. These places offer a window into nature and the wild, but are all products of a manufactured human intervention.

All images © Alvaro Keding 2014

JP - How do you compose your images? Do you keep most of the original frame or do you experiment with cropping during post production?

AK - All my images are framed at the moment of capture. In general, I find that I get much better results when all the decisions that go into creating an image are made during the production process, when I am present and more involved with the space and subject. Throughout this project I've been slowly zooming into these habitats by working with wide-angle lenses together with telephoto lenses. I like to create a narrative where the wide shots and the detail shots all bring an array of emotional and dramatic triggers to the series.

JP - Who or what influences your visual palette and style?

AK - Bright saturated colors and high contrasts. Being a colorblind photographer presents a whole set of challenges and difficulties, but I am learning to trust the way I see, not as a handicap but as an asset that guides me to point my camera towards what my eyes can register.

JP - How has the project evolved over time? What direction are you taking it in now?

AK - I started this project two years ago by photographing zoos in all of New York City boroughs. But it wasn’t until I started traveling to other cities like Tampa, Chicago, Philadelphia and Madrid that I realized the contrasts in the rendering of these habitats. The different aesthetic and architectural approaches in building these spaces offered me the possibility to expand my project visually and conceptually.

JP - In your "In the City" series, you also have a focus on details and moments. Do you find your approach differs in any way with this project?

AK - It is completely different because I am inside my element. The urban landscape is my version of the wild where there is so much action and energy. While in my habitats project I am looking through the glass, a much more controlled and tamed exercise, in the city I am free to roam among the crowds and lose myself in the anonymity of the public spaces.

JP - Do you strive for a timeless look to your images? How do you achieve that?

AK - At a time where our environments are saturated with technology, I like to leave it all out of the frame in order to engage the viewer in a direct conversation with the subjects in my images without all the distracting noise. I play with the use of black & white and with the unique hard light and shadows that are cast through the skyscrapers and architecture of the city. 

JP - What are your plans for this series?

AK - I am in the process of editing and designing a book this summer and hoping to have it ready by the fall, as I plan to have a show at the School of Visual Arts at that time.



PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



Tout VTS


Tout VTS


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