Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday ProFile: Marco Romano Bhimani

In this electronic age, film cameras are becoming a rare find. The Impossible Project and Holga cater to a limited clientele instead of mass markets. It’s possible that many kids today may never work a film camera. Fortunately, photographer Marco Romano Bhimani knows his way around both mediums. “I had a digital camera back in the day,” he recalls. “Mostly, that camera was for documenting illegal graffiti in LA. I was shooting thousands of pictures, but I felt like if you really wanted to be a photographer, you had to do it in film. You begin to understand how light works and how light is going to respond to your film.”
As a junior high school kid in Pasedena, Bhimani tried his hand at graffiti with some of his buddies. “I still practice my tags to this day, but I’m 32 and I don’t go out in the street that much any more,” he explains. “I got caught out for that shit a lot, dealt with the community service and exorbitant fines. I’m not trying to fuck with that any more; that’s not my thing.”
While his tagging waned, his love of graffiti never abated. “Graffiti belongs in the street,” he argues. “Yes, at the end of the day, you are defacing someone’s property. Many people look down upon it, but I think graffiti is for graffiti writers and the people who appreciate it.” Bhimani loves cruising the streets in search of new subjects. “I think the locations pick me,” he insists. “Things on the street really speak to me, so I love cruising around to back streets. I’ve been working in South LA for the past 10-12 years. It’s really chill on Saturdays and Sundays, so I just go down and do my work: shooting still lifes, weeds, cracked concrete.”

Once he picked up a camera, Bhimani incorporated his love for graffiti into his work. “I’ve photographed lots of LA crews in the underground scene,” he recalls. “SKA crew, TKO crew, NCT…no legal beagles.” Spending time with his subjects leads to special bonds. “We get to talking and we have a connection,” he adds. “That’s what documentary photo is all about. You have a connection with these people, whether they’re models or homeless people. You get to know them, examine them, and see what they’re about. I think a lot of people have impacted my life through the photos.”

Over the years, Bhimani’s watched his city morph and transform. “Los Angeles as a whole is really different now,” he says. “It’s clean, almost safe, and it’s gentrified. Downtown is whiter and there’s lots more yuppy kids. The whole vibe of the city has changed. I remember parts of LA that were fucking drenched in graffiti and now it’s been clean for the past 7-8 years. I thought it looked beautiful when it was covered in paint.”
While Bhimani sees the grit and grime of LA, he still loves his city. “Every time I travel, I get homesick,” he says. “I want to go back to what I’m used to. I like evolution and change within my work, but I’m not able to accept it in my life. I’m a native of LA, and I’ll probably die in LA. I want to get a passport soon to see the things I want to see.” Through projects like the Green Wall series, Bhimani hopes people will learn that “LA’s not just made up of cute little books with photos of Dodgers Stadium or Santa Monica Pier. There are a lot of hidden jewels out here. I’m just trying to bring them to light.”

Thanks, Marco! You can check out more of his photos here. That's all for now. I'm gearing up for two meets this weekend. Fortunately, my sister is home and life is good. I'll be back on Monday with news, stories, and of course more pictures. Enjoy the weekend!

1 comment:

  1. He is right in some things because I think that photographers are important but they aren't in the same level because on movies you have to be aware of different thing like sounds and other thing that they can affect your movie. hr32