Lomographer Emil Rivera, a.k.a. lariverola has plenty of art disciplines he dives into, such as directing and designing. Film photography is one of his main disciplines, where he likes to focus on capturing the fast-changing environments and moments of the iconic city of New York. Get to know more about Emil and his body of work in this interview.
Hi Emil! How are you lately? How's the creative life so far?
All things considered, I think I am doing alright. Still drawing and taking photos whenever I can. Obviously, the past year+ has been challenging, to say the least, I think we are all a bit burned out so I am trying to be kind with my own creative process. I recently started processing and scanning 35mm at home, which has been quite refreshing.
May you share with us how you got into film? How did it all start?
It was romance, in one of those endless summers. Many years ago a friend of a friend took out a little Lomo LC-A. She let me borrow it and I fell for it immediately with how compact and non-intrusive it was. I could be present and not miss the moment, especially when comparing it to a bulky digital SLR I used to have. Of course, once I got the film processed I was all in, the results blew me away. I think film is closer to the way we experience and remember things, even with shaper lenses.
You shoot a lot of subject matters and genres of photography. Do you have a particular favorite?
I am not entirely sure I have a particular favorite but if I have to narrow it down I think there are certain photos that share what I consider an exploration of the moments between moments, the quiet ones where the light acquires a presence.
One thing we've noticed in your work is how the images are quite characteristic and emblematic of New York's fast-paced, diverse urban culture. Please tell us more about what it's like to be a photographer in Big Apple.
It feels like anything and everything could happen. My favorite thing is the micro-interactions that can happen on any given day, sometimes is a very specific look or a bit of a banter, as much as I expect it is always surprising. Also, the buildings and the grid of Manhattan can create some surreal shadows and reflections.
Roaming around with no particular destination has probably saved me thousands of dollars in therapy, just a camera, enough film, and comfortable shoes. I go back and forth on how close I get to the scenes and people I photograph but in my experience, the people in the city are quite understanding and open to the idea of street photography. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I have the chance to document this city.
You explore a lot of aesthetics and techniques in film — do you have a preference for a certain technique?
There is something about redscale that hits all the notes for me, which in a way is strange since I don't particularly shoot black and white and in theory they should be similar. Somehow redscale feels so otherworldly to me, but with that said, lately, I've been burning through a lot of slide film, it is taking me outside of my comfort zone and forcing me to step up my light metering game.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
A bit of everything really, there are so many talented folk out there it is almost hard to not get inspired by what everyone else is doing. I am a big defender of the ordinary, I think even the most mundane has the potential to be extraordinary. Aside from that, I tend to retreat into movies and poetry. Recently I've been going through both Yasujiro Ozu and Andrei Tarkovsky filmography and trying to learn from their choices.
Please share with us a tip or two that has helped you as a film photographer.
If you can, shoot for yourself, make yourself happy first, tell and explore the subjects or stories you want and try to not get too influenced by what an audience would want (looking at you Instagram!) and also, don't get comfortable doing the same thing but do get acquainted with your own mistakes, I have learned more from stuff I have messed up than from the "good" shots, still making mistakes and I am okay with that.
What's next for Emil Rivera?
A physical image feels so different, so far I have not printed much of my work but that will change soon. I am building zines and book mock-ups, toying with the themes and content until it feels right, it is exciting, at worst it will be a fun experiment.