Over the past decade Brooklyn based photographer Adam Amengual has used his camera to connect with those who have crossed his path. Amengual’s style is raw and aims to connect the viewer and subject by exposing the humanity in his subjects and embracing the stories they tell. Amengual looks back on a selection of his work and has discovered that his portraits are loaded with a sense of nostalgia.
Vermin Supreme, 2008
Activist and fringe presidential candidate, Vermin Supreme was photographed for Swindle Magazine. People often ask about how “real” this portrait of Vermin is. I did add a bit of light but this is how he dresses when attending protests and this is how he keeps his property. Photography for me is a creative outlet but it also fulfills my curiosity about life and people. Taking portraits gives me a chance to learn something about the subject through conversation. I can also honestly say that I love hearing the intricacies of something that I know nothing or very little about. Even though it’s one of my more stylized portraits, it is still very much based in reality and maintaining that reality is very important to me and is something I try to carry throughout all my work.
Ron English, 2008
This portrait was taken around the same time as the image of Vermin Supreme. I photographed Ron English, who is like the father of the street art movement, in his studio in Jersey City, New Jersey. English has been putting up his artwork on billboards long before Shepard Fairey. His work is socially conscious and he’s not afraid to call out problems we have in this world. I respect that a lot. I spent the better part of the day hanging out with him and learning more about who he is- a family man, artist and culture buster. When I look back at this picture, I see Ron exactly as I remember him: quiet, but willing to share everything.
Daniel St. George, 2007
As I get older, many of the portraits that I have taken become like memories of people who have come and gone through my life. Dan seen here is someone I have lost contact with, but I did see a recent picture of him and he is now covered in tattoos. The photograph I took has frozen him in time. With this image I also see a classic portrait of an artist living in Brooklyn. Living in a creative space from the moment you wake till you lay your head to rest. For me many images gain importance and weight over time.
Skatopia Band Mates, 2012
I have been obsessed with couple portraits and group portraits for years, but it’s only been over the past year or two that I have made an extreme effort to take them. I am intrigued by the relationship between two friends, lovers, and parents and children and how they relate to each other. I have never been a tour photographer but I have heard the stories of heartache and love that a group of people traveling and playing together go through. The woman seen here, Alex, hung out with me for quite some time. We chatted about life, being creative, what life was like in Nashville, and how rough the tour had been. You can feel the bond that these two bandmates have. This image keeps growing on me more and more.
Skatopia Group, 2012
In this image we see a group hanging out on a set of stairs. I captured the moment when the woman glanced in my direction. With all my documentary work I want the viewer to connect with the subject in the same way that I connect with them. I have them look right at me as I look back at them. In this way the image strives to connect that subject to the viewer of the image. In my portraiture I aim to capture clues as to what that the subject was like and give the audience a sense of my interaction with them. These few clues are what create a connection between viewer and subject and what for me makes a successful portrait.
Featured Image: Adam Amengual, Skatopia Couple, from the series I survived Skatopia, 2012