Photographer Interview: Carlos Alvarez Montero

Recently I discovered Carlos’ series of Mexican Skinheads which I found fascinating because of my obsession with what I like to call “culture mash”, the convergence of two seemingly antithetical cultures or identities in one person. View this series and more of Carlos Alvarez Montero’s photography plus check out his recent Cool Hunting interview. Follow him on Twitter @alvarezmontero.

D&B: Where are you from?
CAM: I was born and raised in Mexico City. I have been living and working between NYC and Mexico City for the last two years.

D&B: What kind of photography do you shoot and how did you get started – any “formal” training?
CAM: I am into documentary photography, mainly portraiture. I started taking some workshops and working as an assistant. I am currently doing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.

D&B: What cameras or techniques do you use?
CAM: Mamiya 645 – this camera has the right size to fit in a regular backpack or messenger bag so i’m able take it anywhere. I have been working with it for the last 12 years and it makes the work everytime. By the way, I love film.

Copyright Carlos Alvarez Montero

D&B: Who are your mentors (in photography)?
CAM: I could say my mentors are my first photo teacher Saul Serrano and the photographer I used to assist, Edgar Ladrón de Guevara, I learned a lot with them, not just about photography itself but also that it wasn’t an easy road but that it was worth taking.

D&B: When did you realize you could have a career in photography? Describe your journey towards becoming a working photographer.
CAM: Since I entered into my first photography workshop at the age of 19, I knew I wanted to live from photography. I didn’t know about the difficulties or anything, I just knew that was what I wanted to do. After like a year of doing workshops I started working as an assistant for an advertising photographer. Everything happened very natural, one day I was assisting, the next I was published in magazines.

D&B: What do you hope to achieve with your photography?
CAM: I use photography as a way to have access to worlds that intrigue me. I hope I can share with others through my images what I learn about them.

“Little Saint Jude”
Copyright Carlos Alvarez Montero

D&B: What’s your dream photography project?
CAM: I don’t really have a dream project, I am currently working in three projects that i would like to finish by the next year (that’s my dream), one is a book about my series “adopt & adapt” about the creation of identity through the construction of the appearance, the other is a book of portraits of Mexican guitarists, and the third is a film documentary called M (of Michoacan) about the gang culture in a small town in Michoacan, Mexico which started as a photo series and then turned into a film.

D&B: What’s the biggest (life) lesson you’ve learned through photography?
CAM: Everytime I shoot is a lesson, I try to learn as much as I can from all my subjects.

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