Maria Montes-Lopez

Maria Montes-Lopez


by Maria Montes-Lopez (Spain)

As a Spanish amateur photographer that has been living in London for several years, I explore cultural identity, human relationship with their environment. The following pictures are a selection of several events. One of the reasons I wanted to attend this workshop was to improve narrative and story making.

Portfolio from the Documentary workshop with Patrick Zachmann, September 2014.

Written review by PAULINE VERMARE,
Associate Curator, International Center of Photography

Assistant Curator, Special Projects & International Outreach, International Center of Photography, NYC, USA
Maria’s portfolio is very uneven, some parts are very good, and some are much weaker. But the fact that some of these photographs are very good leads me to believe that Maria has plenty room to develop her own personal vision and find her real voice soon.

I really love the photographs that Maria took in Ascot and during the Tour de France. Part of why I love this series particularly is because they are a perfect stylistic combination of three major (and very distinct) photographer’s work: Henri Cartier-Bresson’s, the photos he took in England’s higher society circles during his many trips to England from the 1930’s and 1960’s; Robert Capa’s black and white and color photographs of the Longchamp and Deauville race tracks in the 1950’s; and Martin Parr’s more recent iconic photos of the British high society.

This is an “easy” story in a sense that the subject is visually striking as it is – with the hats, the colors, the anachronistic, caricatural and timeless nature of their style and attitudes.

But it takes a good distance to make good pictures of those hats and somewhat distorted faces, and I think that Maria was at the right distance when she took those photos. The choice of color is excellent for this story, and Maria is very good at color. Some of the photographs, like number 2, are delightful, because they are taken at the right moment. It could have been a tighter frame, but the action is good and makes for a good photo. Image 1 is very good too, with that hat to the right creating a moment of craziness in an otherwise very still scene.

The photograph number 3 has a much better frame, with the three women in action and that man opening it to the left. These are good photographs also in a sense that none of the subjects seems aware that someone if photographing them.

Photography number 4 is a good one, although it could have been a tighter frame as well. The left part is bothering the eye, as well as the blue line at the bottom, and with a tighter frame one would have focused on the amazing sea of hats that Maria saw and captured from above – great angle.

Photograph 5 is very well composed, and perhaps the most sensitive of the series, the most discreet and universal. It is in fact a surprising addition to the overall critical/grotesque crowd. An unexpected romantic touch, a lovely feeling. And that pink hat makes for a very good image.

Photograph number 6 is a very funny one, and it blends in very well with the other story. A very funny image, well composed, light-hearted.

Photograph 7 is a funny one as well, closer to Martin Parr, sadly it is a little weak technically – over exposed, which diminished the impact of the picture altogether. With brighter colors this might have been much better.I enjoy the diversity of the stories. It tells a lot about Maria’s curiosity for the Other, and the color is a very good pick for all those photographs.

Photograph 8 may be one of my favorite in the whole portfolio: the colors, the composition, the overall feeling are extremely good. There is also something timeless about this scene, but this time tainted with melancholy. Here also, Maria treated the colors beautifully.

Image 9, like image 6, would have been much better with a better treatment of light”: the overexposure breaks the colors and makes the image much less powerful than it could have been. The colors and movements are very good, the composition could have been a little tighter.

Image 10 is good color wise, but I feel like this is a more anecdotal image. In fact, the last pictures in the portfolio seem a little too artificial for me, as if Maria was trying for new styles and visual gimmicks that end up hurting her natural flow. The subjects are too aware, the photos are too posed, compositions are too messy, light is not right.

So, back to what I was saying at the beginning: Maria has it in her to develop her own voice, and this may be in the choice of story and the time she dedicates to them.

Good luck and enjoy!

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