What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what have been some of the most important milestones in your career up until now?
On a personal level , that my work is already appreciated and in hands of very good and notable art collectors. It is important to me that the work sells and that it goes into the right hands. Being an art collector myself specialized in Fine Art Photography to me that speaks volumes of the work , that had been creating for the past 8 years. I never expected that publications like The Atlantic Magazine September 2011 issue) will contact my art dealer to publish one of my photographs , tilted ''Wonder'' and not only publish it also , pay me an editorial fee for it. During 2011, my work was published in 4 different publications ( Urban Italy, Wink , The Atlantic and Aperture Magazine) . I thought that was pretty amazing considering how competitive this field can be. My photographs had been shown in galleries, art fairs nationally and overseas so you can say, sort of still pinching myself about. Also being able to do public speaking about photography and my work as such venues as School of Visual Arts and Photo Plus 2011 at the Javitz Center were great highlights as well.
How do you approach editing your work, and what advice would you give to others about evaluating their photographs?
Being a photography juror and portfolio reviewer for many years for organizations such as Photolucida, Woodstock Center for Photography, En Foco, American Society of Media Photographers NY Chapter and had conducted my own as well , I will highly recommend everybody to have a pair of good second eyes to help edit your work. Editing is a storytelling factor in a body of work or series. There are photographs that stand on its own but, if they are to be told as part of a narrative with others , its placement and sequence matter the most . On my case , I make the work , I edit it and post some on Social Media with a narrative with it an see the reaction of the public and my own. I have a very transparent and democratic way to approach my work and like to share my own personal experience of how I become of it. Since , I already have a trained eye, just present the work to my art dealer and together we decide what to show and why. I always take in consideration what can be ''sellable'' and what it is just other images that provide ''support '' to the rest of the body of work .
How do you decide on new projects to work on? Do you always shoot with a concept in mind or do you wait to be inspired as you go?
I like to do work that inspires me and moves me in such a way that no matter how much danger is involved , still gets done. I had been photographing in the Inner City areas of NYC for over 8 years and counting because, my sole purpose is to bring out the best of it, that endearing element that most people simply ignore because its geographical/ social-economic location. There is a constant gentrification in these areas and with that includes shifting in race demographics, economic, class, values and tradition. Every time , I go out there and hit the streets , I long and look for a NY that is constantly evolving and disappearing in front of my eyes by the minute. I had the pleasure of documenting Architecture, people, places and traditions that are almost extinct and great number gone already. After many years of capturing street life as it evolves in front of my eyes as a witness/voyeur now, I am focusing on the interior aspect or soul of the Inner City, their businesses and their life right at home which it is a more heartfelt, personal, intimate and human approach.
What ways have you found successful for promoting your work and finding a receptive audience for it?
I am a true believer that Social Media works if you represent yourself and your work in a respectful manner and if there is true and strong message to communicate to the public. In my case due to my positioning in the photography business, it is very hard to separate my public persona in the photography business vs. my labor of love as a Fine Art Photographer. It is a tough act to balance and one that I still juggle with on a daily basis. I did get my first solo show out of someone seeing some of my photographs posted on Facebook so, that tells my story.
Black is Beautiful, 2012 NYC. From the '' Portraits from All Walk of Life'' series. ©Ruben Natal-San Miguel
Sam's Pizza, 2012 E. Harlem, NYC. From the '' Nocturnal / Activo De Noche'' series. ©Ruben Natal-San Miguel
Cubana Cafe, 2012 Brooklyn, NYC. From the ' Nocturnal / Activo De Noche'' series. ©Ruben Natal-San Miguel
Cuchifritos Girl, 2011. East Harlem, NYC. From the ''Holidays N Da Hood'' series. ©Ruben Natal-San Miguel
© copyright all images Ruben Natal-San Miguel