Balas de plata #8. Thomas Roma

Cuando pienso en Thomas Roma me sale una palabra en inglés : RESPECT.

1º Ha fotografiado su ciudad natal, mejor dicho, su barrio, durante 40 años.

2º Fabrica sus propias cámaras.

3º Tiene un telefono sin cámara.

Si buscas Thomas Roma en google, te encuentras algunos retratos de él en color entre muchas fotografías en blanco y negro, es que Thomas Roma fotografía en blanco y negro desde siempre, es su método y le funciona, no espereis colores vibrantes o suaves, B&W.

No es un fotógrafo muy conocido, y estoy seguro que llegué a conocerlo por el tema de las sicialiano, sus propias cámaras que el mismo fabrica y usa para su trabajo, ni nikon ni canon, SICILIANO CAMERA WORKS

Más tarde he indagado un poco y leido un par de entrevistas. Thomas Roma es de Brooklyn y allí es donde ha desarrollado la mayor parte de su trabajo fotográfico, al que definiria como un tratado de lo cotidiano: un mujer tomando el sol en el coche en una gasolinera, paisajes urbanos, los típicos front yards de las casas del barrio, gente en el metro o una mujer negra rezando en la iglesia...

Cada vez me interesa más este tipo de fotografía, cuando entendemos el lenguaje de un sitio o de un pais somos capaces de descifrarlo e interpretarlo con más profundidad, y además nos identificamos con los signos culturales que vemos en las fotografías, las entendemos mejor.

Thomas Roma también ha recibido dos Becas Guggenheim, publicado 14 libros y además da clases de fotografía, que siempre empieza poniendo una canción.

Os pongo algunos pasajes de una entrevista que dicen mucho de su caracter:

" I was always photographing. This is another thing about me that is a little different from other people I encounter in the arts. I come from a working class background. My understanding is that whatever you are doing, you do every day. You do it until the job is done or you’re exhausted and then you can have a drink in the evening. I don’t understand waiting for inspiration. I don’t understand trying to be great all the time. I understand practicing one’s medium, doing the best you can, chipping away at it since the result is always cumulative. Some days I don’t have it when I photograph and other days things go extremely well. But once I am finished, I feel the same on either day. The day’s work is finished."

How did you find time to work on your photography while you were working other jobs?

"After I quit my Wall Street job, I worked as an assistant at Pratt and I worked in wedding photography studio, mounting photos onto driftwood. Two jobs. But I would get up every morning before the Pratt job and take the prints I had made the night before. On my way to work I would photograph. I would develop the film during my lunch hour, because there was a darkroom there. I would go to my night job. Then get back from my night job at midnight and print more photos. The next day, I would do it all again. Not because I was a superhero. It is what I wanted to do.
Artists need to support themselves though, don’t they?
" I am not going to give one inch to the “you need to support yourself” argument. I had a student at the School of Visual Arts once. He came to class one week and didn’t have any work because his camera was stolen. I understood that. But the next week he came back and still didn’t have any work because he said he didn’t have enough money to buy a camera. I said, “I’m going to throw you out of the class.” I made him come up to the front of the class and I asked him to stick out his arm. He did. I grabbed his hand and said, “What is that?” He had a Tag Heuer watch. I said, “Sell that watch and buy a camera.” He said, “I can’t sell that watch, my grandmother gave it to me.” So I said, “Sell your grandmother into slavery and buy a camera.” I threw him out of the class.
People who are concerned about money are the ones brushing their teeth three times a day. Maybe you have to live in a way where you don’t even brush your teeth. Maybe you can’t bathe too regularly. Everyone says “I have passion…but I have to go to the movies…or eat at a restaurant…live in a nice place!” People say they need to support themselves, but what that means is that they have to have a certain standard of living. You make it work. There is always a way to make it work."
" Robert Frost wrote, “I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.” I read that and wondered what he meant. He means that you have to be rained on. You have to do things that other people consider mistakes and then hang on to those mistakes. We have to acknowledge that failure isn’t only an option, it is your companion."
"I have never sacrificed a single thing to be a photographer, to do the work I’ve done. No sacrifice. I wanted to do all that stuff. If you say you’re sacrificing, you are doing the wrong thing. Life is a lot more interesting if you say ‘yes.’ ‘No’ leaves you exactly where you are. Nothing changes. Try to say ‘yes.’"
"One more thing. I never sell my photographs for commercial purposes. People say, “Why don’t you? If you take that money, you can be free to do what you want.” I already do what I want. Money is power, yes. But freedom, you can’t buy more of it if you already have it. You either have it or you don’t. And I have freedom.

La última en castellano para los que hayais llegado hasta aquí:

"una cosa más. Yo nunca vendo mis fotografías con fines comerciales. La gente dice, "Por qué no?, coge el dinero y podrás ser libre para hacer lo que quieras..". Yo ya hago lo que quiero. El dinero es poder, si. Pero la libertad, no puedes comprar más si ya la tienes. La tienes o no la tienes. Y yo tengo libertad."

 © Thomas Roma.

 © Thomas Roma.