Arturo Cañedo is a Peruvian photographer who studied economics as a profession, and painting and drawing at the Art Museum of Lima. He integrates his economics training into his photography work, showing an understanding of aesthetics and the human condition. Arturo's photography has won several awards in national and international competitions, such as the photography salons of France, the United States and Peru. His photos have been exhibited in Dubai, Italy, India and Peru.
Arturo shared with us his project Downtown Lima, where he searches for the relationship of the individual within his urban environment, from a social, economic, religious, political, racial, or other point of view, including those ethnographic elements that allow us to identify and link the individual and the city to which they belong. He started this photographic project six years ago in his home city Lima, a city throbbing with life. In Arturo's photography the city's character is represented through a combination of colours, lights, motion, and people´s cultural aspects. His project started with black and white photography, from where he moved on to the present project where he uses camera, cell phone, and artificial lighting techniques to portray Lima in an unusual and particular way.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where were you born, where do you live now, how did you become interested in photography?
I was born in Lima, the capital of Peru. At present I live in the city of Lima. My interest in photography started from a very young age, and it was painting and cinema that influenced my passion for photography.
Do you have a favourite quote/lyric/saying that especially resonates with you?
At this stage of my life what comes to my mind, more than quotes, lyrics or sayings, are the eternal conversations with my father and his great advice and life experiences. The reason for the above is that my father left a while ago. This happens when your best friend leaves.
Where do you find your inspiration? And do you have a favourite place to shoot?
Inspiration for me is a constant stimulus that comes from everything beautiful that surrounds us: our family, friends, our culture, music, cinema, poetry, photography, travel, etc. My favourite place today is my city.
In general, what do you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
Communicate and tell how interesting, hallucinatory, mysterious, beautiful, complex all that can be shown in this relationship between photographer and environment can be.
The main element in my photography is the human being and their relationship at all levels with their environment.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers? Who do you think has mostly influenced your style?
Mentioning favourites I think would not be the right thing, because, more than inspiration or influence, it is constant stimulation and this comes from everything that sublimates me, things I find pleasant or unpleasant, things I like or dislike. This variable and contrasting relationship is the source of the generation of images, which come not only from photographers, but also from musicians, poets, filmmakers, family, writers, friends, etc.
But if you ask me to choose one, I would mention music, which always uses its best arguments and charms.
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
More than inspiring my creativity this one has furthered my training: The Limits of Interpretation by Umberto Eco.
More than increasing my training this album has inspired my creativity: Giant Steps by John Coltrane
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
Currently for my project that I am carrying out in my city: Downtown Lima for more than 6 years I use my Nikon D7100 and my smartphone. The lens I use is my 17-50 2.8. I usually use the most angular part of my lens.
Your photos show an aspect of Lima that seems rather wild, lively, and at the same time, because of the way you compose your photos, almost fairytale-like. What is it you want the viewer to make of this?
I would precisely like you to enjoy it with the same words and sentiment that you used to formulate this question.
Who is Spiderman, and what is he doing in Lima?
Lima and in general the main cities of Peru are characterised by having a diverse and complex economy at the same time; Therefore, labour informality is generated that encourages the creation of different forms of work: One of them is Spiderman.
Your photographs emit a glow of colours and lights. Could you tell us a bit about how you accomplish this? (You are using flash and motion blur, and it seems you are also overlaying two or more shots in post-processing?)
'Downtown Lima' started as a documentary project that sought ethnographic information about my city. This project was transformed along the way and became a photographic essay. Although it is true: the inhabitant of the city of Lima is still the protagonist, this time they are captured through different mixed lighting techniques, not only with an SLR camera but also with a smartphone. I use flash and different shutter speeds, as well as the ambient lighting support provided by the city. I don't use two or more shots to superimpose on my result, and I don't use Photoshop at all to achieve any additional or final effects. The result of my images are achieved in camera with the valuable tools that the photographic artefact possesses: speed, aperture and ISO with a great ally: the flash.
When you go out on the streets, do you have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both?
I have a concept and structure that are important elements in my photo essay.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
From a very young age I was interested in painting and music, but it was in the first (painting) that I had a greater degree of involvement.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
This answer answers the 2 questions: I hope to see that the objectives of my projects are met: THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE OF MY CITY.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Currently I am taking up my other passion in parallel to my documentary work: which is teaching camera management; photographic language and development of photographic projects through individual workshops virtually on my social networks.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…”
Listen to music, walk, watch movies ... with my loved ones.
Muchas gracias, Arturo!
All photos © Arturo Cañedo.
Interview by Karin Svadlenak-Gomez