“I do not believe in the great stories. I prefer the small, marginal ones, that nobody wants to tell. I have no doubt that the most important thing is a good story, told with the necessary resources. No big productions. I’m thrilled when someone with very little is able to tell a powerful story.” Daniel Muchiut
Daniel Muchiut. Born in 1967, Daniel Muchiut is an Argentine contemporary documentary photographer. In his work, mostly in black and white, he explores the mysteries of everyday life. He says: “There’s no art without committment.” Daniel Muchiut is one of the founders of “Fotogalería 22” in his hometown Chivilcoy. He also teaches workshops.
Artist statement: “I’m a self-taught photographer, but I must admit that looking at magazines and books, as well as encounters with other Argentine artists and the street itself are also important parts of my training. Perhaps better than any institution. Then I was lucky to attend a couple of workshops held in Argentina by Julian Germain (England) and John Duncan (Ireland) in the context of a contest about human rights called “La Mirada Justa”.
“Las Flores del Mal” by Daniel Muchiut. Part of a presentation by artist collective “Cámara Oscura”
Daniel Muchiut, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was a Roleiflex, but actually I did my first job with a borrowed Mamiya. Or I just “took” it from the print shop where I used to work. With that camera I realized a series called “Hombres de Barro” (“Mud Men”). After that I shot “Historias de Bares” (“Stories of bars”) with my own camera.
- Daniel Muchiut “Las Flores del Mal” www.danielmuchiut.com.ar
Why did you become a photographer?
You never know exactly how you get intensely involved with an artistic activity. Surely there are many factors that determine that decision. Since I was a child, I just loved watching people. I’m curious, I get fascinated by the stories of normal people that come out of everyday life and that hit them hard or even drive them crazy. I guess it’s because of that kind of stories that I decided to pick up a camera and started telling these stories in visual essays. It allows me to be a privileged observer. Very close. That’s very captivating.
What does photography mean to you?
I think after 25 years of dedicating myself to photography, more than half of my life, it’s the most significant step I ever took, which gave meaning to my life. Photography is the motor of my passion, it’s what moves me.
I can talk about my life, about things I did not understand. And with my camera, I’m able to slowely find answers to the things that are spinning around in my head and that need an answer. While I could live without the camera, all that I am, my formation as a person, and being able to appreciate the small things of life, I owe to photography.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Hundreds, and they will continue to inspire me all the time. More than authors, it’s people related to art that mark you with their wisdom. They show you the way.
In the beginning, I admired Martín Chambi, and Graciela Iturbide. Later on I was fascinated by the work of Josef Koudelka, Robert Frank, Nan Godin, Diane Arbus, Masahisa Fukase, and so an. Not to forget all my Argentine photographer friends. All talented, and life affirming people. Hardly anyone can really make a living out of photography, but they always put their passion and energy in their photographic work. It’s these people that have always inspired me. In addition that, I have to mention musicians, filmmakers, painters, sculptors, all wonderful artists that enrich this poor life we are living on this earth.
What is your favorite photography quote, Daniel Muchiut?
Diane Arbus wrote in her diary:
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.”
This statement is true and is what I always quote.
Over time I began to distrust the beautiful photos, which tell you everything when you look at them. I prefer images that raise questions and doubts, that incommode me, and that I don’t understand.
“This documentary was filmed in 1972, one year after Diane Arbus’ death. “Going Where I’ve never Been: The Photography of Diane Arbus” gives a very intimate look at the photographer who took pictures of the marginalized and freaks. Among other photographers, Diane Arbus’ daughter Doon remembers her mother
Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It had a terrific form of excitement to me. I just used to adore them. They made me feel a mixture of shame and awe.” Diane Arbus
Daniel Muchiut, how would you describe your photographic language?
I am a visual storyteller. I am always guided by the novels of Osvaldo Soriano. Those characters that he describes, I’m trying to find. I’m also influenced by my childhood, everything is important. I work like a weaver. Point by point, I move on very slowly and it can take me years to finish a series. Sometimes I even leave it for a while and return to it later. Whenever I approach a subject, it’s because I have no certainties as to what is happening there. So it’s a little bit like walking in the dark.
The photographic language is determined by time, consistency, and years of work in the same direction. It is very difficult to do, and I do not think I’ve succeeded yet. Hopefully in 50 years from now people looking at one of my pictures can tell that it was taken by me. That would be a wonderful achievement.
- Daniel Muchiut “Las Flores del Mal” – www.danielmuchiut.com.ar
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
Once I’ve decided on which subject I want to work, I determine which tool to use. I never pay too much attention to technical aspects. I just try to approach the subject as closely as possible, trying to tell what I see in the most intimate way possible. The framing, the light, and all elements that appear in my images are spontaneous, nothing is previously planned.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Passion, determination and a lot of patience. That’s critical.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It needs to lead you to another place, it has to reflect a certain urgency. Being trapped only by aesthetics is not enough. To me, a strong image has to ask questions and maybe even bother you. I prefer rather messy, poorly framed, and out of focus pictures. I now understand much better what Robert Frank did in “The Americans”.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Film, literature, music, watching carefully what happens to me and what happens around me. I do not believe in the great stories, I prefer the small, marginal ones, that nobody wants to tell. I have no doubt that the most important thing is a good story, told with the necessary resources. No big productions. I’m thrilled when someone with very little is able to tell a powerful story.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I use all kinds of cameras: From borrowed ones to my own. From the old Roleiflex 6×6, to a Nikon F10, and a Canon G12.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I don’t surf a lot on the Internet. But sites like this or Lens Culture, and American Suburb X are very good resources for lovers of photography.
What photography book would you recommend?
There are hundreds. “The Americans” by Robert Frank, “The Solitude of Ravens” by Masahisa Fukase, Josef Koudelka “Gypsies” – I could go on all afternoon.
Have a look at Robert Frank’s photography book “The Americans”
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Nothing, just keep on working, be patient, study, investigate, and walk the streets. And have the strength to overcome moments of disappointments that are bound to occur. Time will eventually be on your side. The time you put into your work.
More information about contemporary photographer Daniel Muchiut
Official homepage: www.danielmuchiut.com.ar