THE BLOG
10/28/2013 10:48 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Maria Fernanda Hubeaut Discusses the Humanity of Photography

Through a number of missteps of my own making, this interview with Maria Fernanda Hubeaut was delayed more than once. And for that I deeply apologize to you -- the community -- and to Maria.

The significance of this interview and the impact of every word is a testament to Hubeaut's photographic passion. And her artistic commitment.

The Interview

You were born in Santa Fe City, Argentina. And Argentina is where photography found you. Specifically, you were drawn to documentary and artistic photography. What was it about these two disciplines that connected with you, so deeply?

My grandfather died when I was 14 years old and all that I have from him was his old Pentax Spotmatic. I remember that I experienced a lot of sadness during that time of my life. Nothing interested me, only the cinema. I was a member of the Cine-club, where every Saturday I saw new and old movies that inspired me with the stories and photography that I saw on the big screen.

After I got the camera back from the cleaning expert, I started to ask myself how to express all those sensations of suffering; how to release all those feelings of loneliness that as a teenager sometimes pursued me in the form and shapes of images, shadows and lights. I started to take some portraits of my closest friends, for them, because everyone dreamed at that time of being famous.

I think this is the market tendency and the instant gratification that sometimes people looking for, but reality is that you need to know your camera as a tool. It is important that you control the camera, not the camera control you. I always teach others on how to invest money in a real instrument, to know your camera and use it for the best results that suit you and your practice.

I respect people that really love photography and those that create with sincerity and honesty. You must know that photography is a practice that requires passion, time and persistence. Young photographers need to know the story as well as the technology, that it is a precious opportunity for them to explore and manifest new creative ways. This is necessary to be recognized as the best in the field.

I met Mercedes through another friend. When I saw her I had the feeling that she had come from the past, from the past of photography. I created a portrait of her like an old one, like a daguerreotype style. I scratched the negative and I printed on old paper with old fixer to exercise the idea that she has died and she had just come back from the dead to be photographed by me.

I didn't go to the funeral of my grandfather, taking that photo it was the best way for me to be close to the idea of death in a photographic sense. Since then the rest of my life was connected to and focused on photography. I decided to study journalism, during which I worked part time in a photo lab.

I discovered that photography is powerful, a strong instrument that can manifest whatever you need to express. I never have any conflict in using photography to documenting a reality that involves your own subjectivity or create an artist concept were you create your own story, your own statement. For me one practice is linked to the other, I can nurture both without falling into the shallow aspect of the routine that some photographers experience when they don't take the risk to open themselves to other genres.

Photography was the tool that teaches me how to explore myself and my own reality in life all my artistic series manifest this "Metamorphosis", "Transmutation", "The city object of Meditation" and "Rayuela".

On Nyorai you have quoted "Art is the irrepressible expression of human spirituality. Art functions to purify the inner being. If we accept the marvelous statement of the interconnection of all living things, then art becomes the elemental modality through which humans discover their bods with other humans, humanity with nature and humanity with the universe." -- DAISAKU IKEDA

It's a beautiful explanation of what art is. But stepping away from this quote by Ikeda -- what does art mean to you -- especially in its application to photography?

I started practicing Nichiren Buddhism four years ago. This quotation from my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, explains exactly the feeling that I was having through all my previous years practicing my art photography.

When I create art photography, my concept links all the aspects that are visible in the art series that I have done. The person that is in it, the location, and the choreography -- I stage all of these. They function to transmit a reality that becomes more of my concept because I am really working as witness and co-creator with the subject that is in the photograph.

It is like I create and I am executing a performance art through photography. Many people ask me if there was a performance, in some sense it was. I have an idea and I prepare it all very detailed -- always results show something better or more profound. That is also the reason I have started to experiment with my own performance art pieces because it is the same energy.

The only difference with performance art is that I am doing it alive. I become the central figure now during my art performances pieces. I am in the center of the stage. Before I was the creator and the photographer only, not the subject.

I like the freedom, the diversity, and the flexibility that photography provides me as a medium to create and to register realities. I can work in film or digital. It doesn't matter to me, as I love both. I am always experimenting with my own expectation and what others think what photography has to be.

You have been photographing moments in time since you were 15 years old. How have you evolved, not only as a photographer? But as an artist?

This also relates to my previous explanation. Photography was and will be my main art. As a documentary photographer, I'm in love with our human nature, human gestures, our rituals and celebrations. Wherever I go, I seek to have that encounter. When that happens, the photo materializes in front of me and as final act, my human nature and the humanity of my subject finally become one in that photography.

Since I started my Buddhist practice, my art life has expanded. I have become more in touch with new ways to see, to express and materialize the creativity that lives inside of us and the environment that surrounds us. For this reason, I have been freer to create collaborations and solo performance art pieces where I use my writing, dance and photography.

This year was especially productive. In addition to being in three group art shows, I created three performances art pieces where I used all of these elements. The effect was a huge impact to the audience. One of the pieces is "The dinosaur was always there." It was a big challenge because I speak about the Argentinean story of the military government and the consequences of violence that war imposes on children and the rest of their lives (that was my own experience too).

I always knew that it is my mission in life to be an artist and a professional photographer that teaches and shows new perspectives, and new ways to think about situations that address violence, human rights and empowerment of women and children.

One of my daily motivations is to determine how I can create more human value through my art practice. That is the reason that I am working right now on a project that involve the healing aspects of visual art.

I want to see as a contribution to this world the positive change in your environment when you change yourself. Because when that happens everything changes around you. Photography is the perfect practice that mirrors or reflects this process and can be an powerful tool to create a new vision that reinforce positive images about the people, culture and genres. I love to work in the positive aspects of photography my "Click Vivo" blog name is honoring that idea.

Why do you believe that portrait photography can help people see themselves differently? And why should that matter?

My portrait photography is real. I'm working with people's energy without external or crazy transfigurations. This means I accept technology, but in my practice it is not the first requirement. I love to show people how to be confident in front of the camera just in the way they are. I teach my subjects how to relax and be themselves.

I see the difference all the time. They are amused about results because they know that they can be but they sometimes don't have the chance to trust. I take the time to be with people in that moment because also they have to know me to trust in me. It is a fantastic journey. Portrait photography is an art practice too that appears in my professional portfolio as an event or commercial photographer. When you work with me, you really have a complete human being behind the camera, not just someone that pushes the button.

This means that I take care of you and your reality, desires and expectations. Many people come without knowing what they want. They discover a new world, a new way to see themselves. This is a beautiful process for me. They don't just get a nice portrait; they gain confidence in themselves about what they want and how to get it.

Sometimes, young photographers get caught up in wanting the "best" camera and software. Thinking that those possessions will make them incredible photographers. Can you explain to me why this belief is massively misplaced?

I think this is the market tendency and the instant gratification that sometimes people looking for, but reality is that you need to know your camera as a tool. It is important that you control the camera, not the camera control you. I always teach others on how to invest money in a real instrument, to know your camera and use it for the best results that suit you and your practice.

I respect people that really love photography and those that create with sincerity and honesty. You must know that photography is a practice that requires passion, time and persistence. Young photographers need to know the story as well as the technology, that it is a precious opportunity for them to explore and manifest new creative ways. This is necessary to be recognized as the best in the field.

The Call To Action

Being human is simply one of the most important aspects of being an incredible photographer. It's not the camera or the software. These are secondary and even tertiary photographic tools.

Being able to connect with your subject -- meaningfully -- establishes an environment of synergy. A symbiosis, that when cultivated will produce some of the most incredible images your eyes have ever seen.

So be human. And if you want to take a look at Maria's gallery -- just go to this link.