ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Julián Monge-Nájera is a Costa Rican published photographer specializing in art figure, and in tropical organisms and landscape.
He has taught scientific photography in the School of Biology and in the International Electron Microscopy Program of the University of Costa Rica.
He has three decades of experience as a photographer and his photographs have been published in books and journals in Europe, the USA and Costa Rica. In the beginning, he personally worked on all stages, from developing the film to printing in black and white, and in color, using Agfa technology. In later years he has evolved towards professional digital photography.
He specializes in scientific and artistic photography. His scientific photography concentrates on Neotropical flora and fauna, specially invertebrates.
His art photography concentrates on portraits and nudes of Latin American subjects. His work is internationally recognized and his photography website has been recommended by Peter Marshal of the Royal Photographic Society.
His basic equipments have been SLR Yashica and Nikon cameras, and Epson and Canon digital cameras. Along the years he has acquired experience with Ilford, Agfa, Kodak and Fuji films.
He is in his middle age, a happily married father of a boy and a girl who began to play with his father's camera when aged 18 months. He earns his bread (no butter, for health reasons) in an academic job that is not totally unrelated with photography and dedicates most of his free time to his family, but always returns to photography when he has a chance.
What separates the masters from the average photographers: critics and art in photography
To the question "What is the most important aspect of a photographer?, five successful professionals replied: Curiosity (E. Mayes), ideas (A. Newman), seeing ability (R. Gilka), an eye to see something (D. Bath) and professionalism (W. Camp). (Modern Photography January 1981, p. 10).
I observe the photograph and I immediately like it: the composition stresses the texture of the recently planted soil, the man is concentrated in the movements of the plow, the oxen make a nice transition from the soil to the multi-layered background that brings to mind a Chinese paint. After that I read what the critic thought: "This photographer does not dominate the expressive possibilities of the grayscale … possibly because he studied commercial photography in New York … and concentrates in technique, without conceptual or esthetic worries… he deals with a variety of subjects, without clear goals or concepts that are needed to explore seriously and in depth …he had to use photographs from several years to prepare this exposition: that is not very professional …his images are anecdotic, missing dramatic expression" (The critic: Juan C. Flores, publication: La Nación, San José, Costa Rica: May 16, 1986, p. 2B).
Fortunately, I am a critical reader: Why should photographs be dramatic? What is wrong with anecdotic images?
David Vestal wrote. "Photographs can be jokes, insults, caresses, factual records, anything you want. They do not have to show landmarks, moments of crisis, 'points of interest', spectacular events or pretty things. But they can" (Camera 35, May 1974, p. 50). This clear and simple opinion contrasted with the ridicule extreme that the abstract and empty texts of some critics reach, and obviously deserved some thought.