Lost in the Theatre of Life: Interview with Ximena Echagüe

Remains of a Wreck 5

Eric’s Note: I am excited to feature the work of Ximena Echagüe, a street photographer based in Brussels, Belgium. I’ve been doing online 1:1 lessons with her the last year, and have been amazed with her progress. Below is an interview I did with her, check it out and her projects!

Eric: How did you get started in street photography?

Ximena: I started in street photography under the influence of the work of the first Magnum photographers, the Renown School of Madrid and some press photographers during the Spanish democratic transition.

When they lent me five T- MAX 400 to shoot my first black and white photographs, which ended in a few Madrid and Barcelona galleries, I realised this would always be my passion and hopefully one day also my profession.

But it was really only in the last decade, while looking for images that inspired me, that I bumped into “street photography” as a concept, discovering groups as In-Public, and other photographers whose work took my breath away. This led me to Joel Meyerowitz, Constantine Manos, Bruce Davidson with “Subway“, and Alex Webb with “Suffering of Light”. All of them marked me deeply, encouraging me to become a full time photographer and hit the streets.

Besides street photography, what are some other background interests you have? And how do you see it influence your photography?

My life journey, from Buenos Aires, where I grew up, to Europe, where I became a photographer, and now spending more and more time in Asia, have clearly influenced the way I look at the world and the condition of people around me.

I have always lived in big cities with a sizable floating population, people in the move searching for a new life, which naturally led me to empathise with their hopes and also the struggles they have to face.

I have always been interested in the trajectory that explains the human condition, the internal conflict, and the dynamic, and sometimes sad, story behind who and where we are now. This is why the testimonial value of photography it´s so important to me.

Works like those of Eugene Smith, Josef Koudelka, Bruce Gilden and his documentary photography flash on hand, among many others, have been and remain my reference.

What are you trying to say with your photography projects?

We are all actors, lost in the theatre of life. I’m interested in the bewildered and wandering soul of each human being. I’m trying to catch a gesture, an expression showing our internal struggle.

My objective is to reflect that, in different ways, we are all migrants in this globalized world, searching to improve our lot, often moving across geographic and social borders, always surrounded by people from different horizons and conditions.

What are the main lessons you’ve learned doing online 1:1 workshops with me?

In my 1: 1 Workshops with Eric, I learned to ask myself the “why” of each photo and thus refine my search, trying to find an empathic approach to the emotional body language, bringing out a candid portrait.

Eric encouraged me to define what I’m trying to say through photography. Discovering my strengths and applying them in different situations. Moving from whispering to shouting images.

He helped me to verbally explain a photograph, overcoming my reluctance. He encouraged me to take notes and pay attention to each new stimulus that arises in a photographic project.

Working together in my projects, Eric has taught me to be consistent, holding on to my own ideas, even discarding some good pictures, which added nothing to the set. I always had the feeling that he knows better than met he direction to follow in this personal and photographic search.


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Remains of a wreck

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