Gatherers

In conversation with Jaime Molina

Originally from Colombia, I lived in Bogota for eighteen years. I then had the opportunity to come to the UK and I’ve been here since 2011. I moved to Scotland to pursue my artistic career after graduating from studying photography at Falmouth University in 2018.

I am currently at a point of transition and reinventing my career. In the mornings, I work part-time in a cafe making sandwiches. After that, it’s all about my artistic practice: working on commissions, emailing people to collaborate with, photographing people around Edinburgh and making notebooks out of old books. This is all just a beginning, and I’m trying to have control over my own practice and happiness.

Tell us about your journey to photography.

I remember always having toy cameras around the house, and one of my favourite hobbies was to look at old photo albums. I was given a film camera from my dad, and I can remember taking it everywhere with me – photographing street art, friends and holidays – and waiting for the film to arrive and see what the photos looked like. After finishing high school I moved to the UK, and I knew I wanted to go to university to learn so much more about photography.

That led me to Falmouth, a small coastal town, where most of my practice was inspired by the land and natural history. Although I love the BBC documentaries or beautiful images of wild animals, I couldn’t see myself sat inside a hide waiting for an animal to cross in front of me. Then, three years ago I discovered a love for portraiture and human stories, and wanted to combine those topics with my fascination for natural history. Since then I have been developing my practice around the two things I love: nature and humanity.

What kind of photography are you interested in?

I am interested in all of it, from experimental photography to photojournalism. I might not understand all of it, but I am fascinated by the colours, shapes and characters within the frames. I love having my senses captured by photographs, and I love when photography transcends into different mediums, moving image or with sound.

If I had to choose one it would be portraiture. Most of my current work is inspired by Rembrandt, the characters he captures and the way he uses light to bring them back to life. There is something magical in portraiture; if you stare long enough, you can feel their presence and almost believe that you know everything about them – but at the same time you still want to know more and keep observing them, captured by them.

Let’s talk about Gatherers. What was your motivation behind the series?

Gatherers was an attempt to force me back into the landscape, a way of learning to build a harmonious relationship with the world on my doorstep, and to meet individuals who have a passion for nature and food. I decided to spend a whole year exploring, learning and documenting different characters who have decided to complement their lifestyles by foraging within the county I have been calling home for over three years.

Cornwall has a diversity within itself, not only of landscapes but flavours. From the north to the south coast, you can find yourself on coastlines filled with seaweeds, mussels and crustaceans. Through the hedgerows, you can pick up berries as you go, searching for wild garlic and many other herbs. Deep in the woodlands, there are mushrooms, nuts… wood to create tools, coal and fire to keep you warm and cook these incredible flavours after a long day.

Were there any moments that stand out to you now?

There are a couple that make me smile and I keep learning from them. But the one that has shaped me the most is not a portrait or anyone who was portrayed in the book.

Just a couple of weeks before the deadline for this project my dad passed away. It left me in a very complicated situation, and I spent a couple of days contemplating the idea of flying back home to be close to my family – or to finish the project, graduate and for my mum to be next to me and see me receive my diploma.

I decided to stay and finish the book, mainly for my dad as he would have loved to see me graduate and fulfil my dream of graduating university. This is why the first few copies of the book have an acknowledgement to my dad; he is one of the reasons I am a photographer today and will be for many years.

What are you working on next?

I am working on a couple of projects which both surround people who advocate for a better environment. I am working with Extinction Rebellion to produce a series of portraits to promote diversity and equality within the movement, and I have just been in Colombia last month to produce a series of multiple exposure portraits of guardians of the wetlands within the city of Bogota.

Recommend us something.

I am currently listening to the United Nations of Photography podcast; I listen to it whenever I can, and try to see how I can incorporate all of Grant’s notes and advice into my life and future career as a photographer. I also watch a lot of Bon Appetite videos on YouTube as food is another big passion in my life.

Tell us about one photograph that has strongly influenced you

Probably the portrait Ronald Fisher, Beekeeper by Richard Avedon. The portrait itself captures nature and humanity’s desire to coexist with each other – but Ronald and the bees are not comfortable with each other, and there is a battle between both of them.

I want to be able capture this relationship of both love and hate… our desire to control the natural world to the point of destroying it. To document the resilience of the individuals who coexist with nature, and provide nature the opportunity to thrive again.

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