A Portrait of my Father

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These are not words of rememberance. There are no words or combination of words that can be spoken by me or by anyone that can truly capture what it means to have a father, to have a brother, to have a husband or to have a friend.

There is no photograph or portrait that can truly display who our father was or who their brother was or who her husband was or who your friend was. There is too much information and influence from him to even come close.

And that is the reason I am here right now. Not here as in up here speaking but here as in existing.

He always said “everything happens for a reason” and as an advocate for science and logic, I could never actually commit to applying this statement to anything because it didn’t make sense to me.

I get it now.

I happened for a reason.

I exist for a reason. To be the snapshot, or photograph, or picture, or portrait that truly and completely displays who Julio Suarez was, and will continue to be.

Since tuesday we have been fishing through countless photo albums he made at home. We’ve been looking for photos of us with him. Memories with him. “Photos of rememberance” so to speak.

It was kind of challenging because he was usually the one taking the photos so he wasn’t in a lot of them.

Seeing the photos of me and/or my sister and/or my mom without him in the frame during this time could be frustrating to some but I realized that we were just looking at photos of him. Looking at memories he created. Looking at the family he created. Looking at who he became as a husband, father, brother, and friend. Because it was ultimately reflected back through us in these photos.

The last few days have been filled with meetings and exchanges from people whom he had an impact on, and of those exchanges, there was a healthy amount of people I didn’t really know. The words of condolences from this set of people all had a phrase in common:

“Your father was very proud of you.”

I understand what this means, now. It’s not about being proud of success. It’s not about living vicariously through his daughter who found a career in medicine, something he always wanted to do. It’s not about the countless hours of flash cards and after school lessons in math and science that formed the stepping stones for his son to become an engineer one day.

It wasn’t that kind of pride.

He was proud of who he made, who he raised, who he loved. He was able to pass away knowing that his daughter was a caring and loving and beautiful person. And that she was in good hands. He was able to leave us knowing that his son, his “Jon-Jon” not only grew into a man but became a great man. A great man who still has a lot to accomplish, and will accomplish.

And another thing I learned while going through his personal effects is that one item he kept close to him by his bed was a photo album containing pictures of just his wife, my mom, dating back to even before they were married.

This is a special kind of pride. This is a type of pride that he didn’t have to tell his coworkers or his friends about. This love for my mother was very personal and dear to him and had to have been the hardest thing he had to let go of before his passing.

But he left knowing that he wasn’t leaving her at all, really. Because he knows that he’ll always be with her through my sister and me.

And this is something that I can be proud of. I can live my life being proud of who I am because I get to continue his life and legacy as his son- a portrait of himself in the most definitive way.

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Julio Arevalo Suarez Jr.
4/2/1952 – 1/6/2015

My heart stopped its beat but continues to run-
My life is complete but my love is not done;
Through my boy’s eyes I’ll continue to see,
A world for him is the world to me;
With my girl’s hands I’ll continue to heal,
Her steadfast control will allow me to feel;
And the life of my heart is the love of my life-
All the love from my heart will live on with my wife

Adventures in Film

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The last 4 months have been kind of an adventure (in photography, to say the least).  Besides not posting anything on here except for a few select photo posts, I’ve been going a little film-crazy.  35mm film-crazy.  I found a really good price on a perfectly working Nikon FE (shown below) on ebay.  And my Uncle Pepe gave me a perfectly working (and harshly underrated) “Series E” 50mm f/1.8 lens over 2 years ago. And I bought a “Series E” 28mm f/2.8 shortly after.  So I was okay on lenses.

Am I a camera nerd yet? #nikon #nikonfe #35mm

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

I was taking a trip to San Francisco (for a cousin’s wedding) right after the camera came in and I thought it was a good idea to just “try out film” while vacationing across the country.  So I took two cameras with me.  I took my x100s (which still is always on my person every single day, even to this day) and this old-school Nikon FE which uses watch batteries and these film canister things that I was able to purchase at my local Walgreens.

My life essential carry-on items. #timbuk2 #nikon #fujifilm #nintendo #sony #lowepro #bose #lenspen

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

It was insane.  The gigantic viewfinder and taking time with manual focusing (not as hard as I thought it was going to be) and then *CLICK* and then the smoothness of the film winder and getting ready for the next shot without even thinking of the previous (I’ve trained myself to be a non-chimper pretty well over the years).  What a crazy thing.  And the best and worst part of it all, simultaneously, is the waiting period.  I still have 4 or 5 rolls of film that aren’t developed yet.  Craziest thing about that?  I’m in no rush to get them developed.  Of course when I shot my first couple of rolls I was eager and rushy to get them developed but it really is nice to wait. 20140821-46310001 It gives me the freedom to put most of my effort into just shooting as opposed to editing and posting online as quickly as possible.  It also limits me with my shooting, which kind of sucks.  I got caught having to rewind a complete roll and load a new roll at a time I wanted to keep shooting during my cousin’s wedding reception and I was still new to the whole film world so it still took me a while to load it. It ALSO made me go a little camera crazy the last couple of months.  My local camera shop was having a closing sale (sucks that they were closing, rules that prices were marked down) and I was able to score an Olympus XA2 (below) for under $30(!) and that camera is pretty amazing. This is an excellent little shooter that fits in my pocket, has an awesome lens, and is relatively quiet.  It has zone focusing (great for street) and it came with a removable flash unit.  I haven’t really tried it in the street yet, just used it mostly for snapshots and what not, but the results are awesome, with and without the flash. Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH I’ve tried different types of film: Superia 400, Superia 800, Tri-X 400 Black and White, HP5 Plus 400 Black and White, Portra 160, Portra 400.  I have one roll of Velvia 50 that I haven’t tried out yet, and about 10 rolls of the above variations that I haven’t used yet.  I don’t really have a favorite yet, because everything just looks so amazing after it gets developed.

I’m kind of overwhelmed with excitement and satisfaction with my results so far and I will use that as an excuse for my hiatus the last few months. Oh, and I also ended up picking this guy up off of craigslist for cheap (under $40) due to brokenness and paid a small repair fee (but a 3 month wait, which sucked).

Finally fixed after three months in repair! #nikon #fm2n #boobs #butts #ears

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

But it’s back, works/looks just like new, has a roll of HP5 Plus 400 in it and I’m about 8 shots through.  It is an awesome purely mechanical piece of sexy 1980’s craftsmanship.

I’ll be eager to see the results but I probably won’t mind waiting a little while.

Comprehending Composition

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Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

After 5 years of obsessing over photography, I learned a great amount about the back end process of creating a photo.  I can talk all day about the “trinity” of a photo: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  But all this does is create an “exposure” which simply is the lens, the shutter and the sensor manipulating available light to capture what is in front of it.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

An exposure.  That is what an exposure is.  It’s just science.

Science is quite different from art.  I have a bachelor’s degree in science.  I learned about science all through my life and maybe that’s why I appreciate art so much.  Because art allows me to continue to learn.  Science makes sense but art doesn’t have to.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

There is still a great mighty deal of art that I just don’t know about and this is the reason the art of photography interests me.  It’s kind of like a relationship between science and art.  There’s the science part of it, which I can totally get.  It’s the “art” that takes it far beyond the science and can be even more stimulating to my mind.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

A photograph has so much more than just the three pieces of an exposure.  There are subjects, backgrounds, negative space, white space and composition.

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Composition is placing the camera in such a way in order to gather certain objects in front of it and creating a frame.  It is a process by design only and is the way a photographer can tell a story by limiting all of the world into one precise placement.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2012

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2012

In my very humble opinion, this is the most important piece of photography and is what makes an “exposure” a “photograph”.  It separates the science from the art and truly makes it the photographer’s own work.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

This is the reason why photography is art.