I am Ximena Echague. I was born in Buenos Aires, became a photographer in Europe and now live between New York and Brussels. I am always on the move and feel equally at home in Europe, America or Asia.
I have always lived in big cities with a large floating population, migrants searching to improve their lot in life. This is the odyssey of human life, made of illusions fulfilled or shattered, that I try to capture in my photography. We all have been migrants since the beginning of times, although many people nowadays seem to want to forget it.
I didn’t have a formal education in photography, but I learned the trade working with photographers since my twenties, and also from several masters and many workshops over the last 30 years.
I have recently become involved with two groups of women photographers (Women Street Photographers in New York and Fotografas LATAM in Latin America) which gave me the opportunity to explore other facets of being a photographer, as curator, jurist and giving street photography workshops, all of which I very much enjoy as I like sharing.
I also belong to Little Box Collective, an international group of very talented Street Photographers from all over the world. It is quite a logistical challenge but also very enriching and rewarding.
Although my focus has always been street photography I am spending more and more time in personal documentary projects. I find them complementary, one immediate and improvised, the other reflected and longer-term.
Undocumented migrants, first in Europe and now in America, have occupied a lot of my photography for many years, and giving the current political circumstances in Europe and America, will surely continue to feature prominently in my work.
My style is very eclectic, from the crowds of India to empty spaces in Queens NY, from tragedy to comedy, perhaps often with a touch of irony.
SP is a process, not only a decisive moment. Sometimes you discover a pearl, luck is crucial, but you have to go through the motions, walk the streets, being always attentive and may be, only may be, you strike gold.
I am rather critical of my work, normally discard most of it, and I am always a bit puzzled when winning prizes or awards. This is another reason why I enjoy being part of collectives or other such groups, to receive honest feedback not influenced by festivals or contests.
I shoot mostly in color, as the world really is, but B&W can provide an atmosphere better suited for certain themes. It also depends on your particular mood of the moment.
Photography is my full-time occupation, 24/7, I am almost always shooting, viewing, editing, discussing or thinking photography, yes, it is not always easy for my family, but they are used to it by now.
I shoot almost every day, both in the streets of my city, New York now, and during my travels. Even when I decide to go out without my camera, I continue framing images in my mind.
I am pretty obsessed with light, different tones and intensities, so mornings or nights are very different but both equally interesting.
Some cities have a special light I love, New York and Madrid for example, others a unique atmosphere, such as Istanbul or Barcelona, sometimes it is the chaotic mixture, for instance Bangkok, Delhi or London.
I obviously love the streets of big cities. The open spaces of the Pampas of the country where I was born does not interest me in the same way.
I sometimes discover particular spots with an unusual light, and keep going back to shoot there periodically. This is how I got the second prize at the Brussels Street Photography Festival this year, by pursuing shadows in a Queens playground, with some people watching me and believing I have lost it….
I have had the luck, or misfortune, of having lived many lives in one and street photography is what helped me to stay focused, as for me SP is a kind of meditation and also a vice. I cannot imagine my life without it.
Photography may be a way to reflect reality, to document the crazy and funny world we live in, but it is also, and more fundamentally for me, a way to better understand myself, who I am, where do I come from and where I am heading towards.
It is also an attempt to interpret the world around me, what drives people to be where they are in their own journeys, how and why they got there. To capture and portray this dynamic is one of my main motivations and interests in both street and documentary photography.
This is why I believe it is important to share, exhibit and publish your work. Otherwise, photography becomes a lonely endeavour and risks losing meaning and purpose.