Participants in the sensory pop-up studio (Image credit: Rich Mix)

Participants in the sensory pop-up studio (Image credit: Rich Mix)

Participants in the sensory pop-up studio (Image credit: Rich Mix)

A group of volunteers and artists from the community project Fotosynthesis writes about a sensory pop-up photography studio that they organised with Sight of Emotion/Ojos que Sienten during London MexFest, a celebration of Mexican culture, which took place at London’s Rich Mix on 17-19 August 2012.

In addition to our two exhibitions, we set up two studios that each hosted a visually impaired photographer assisted by Fotosynthesis photographers and volunteers.

Members of the public were welcomed by a help desk volunteer inviting them to see the exhibition and have their photograph taken by our talented, visually impaired photographers, Verenice and Jose.

The photographers had several techniques to compose each frame, by using voice, looking for the vertical to the ground, and motivating attendees to show a certain feeling or expression. Each person that came in was very surprised to hear what was going on.

The public was asked to stand in the middle of the studio, and the photographers gave the following instructions before taking the photograph:

Imagine you are in Mexico! It is really, really hot! Just have fun while I take your photo! You need to talk to me, don’t stop talking, I need to hear your voice! The sound will give me the direction of where you are. I focus on the voice.”

People had to interact with each other and have fun while the photographers were taking snapshots by using their other senses.

The public was asked to dress up with a range of Mexican props, such as a Mexican hat, ponchos, a moustache, a handbag of ‘La Virgen de Guadalupe’, some maracas, indigenous skirts, wrestling masks and so much more. 

Participants in the photography pop-up studio (Image credit: Federico Rivas)

Participants in the photography pop-up studio (Image credit: Federico Rivas)

People enjoyed it and had fun dressing up! The photographers explained to the models that it was about the action; they chose their costumes and began to speak or sing for the photographer.

Another part of the pop-up studio was to swap roles: The photographers became the models and the general public took a photo of them by using its other senses.

Some people found this difficult but were very surprised by the experience and the result. It was the experience of a lifetime, with no words to describe it.

All photographs were printed straightaway and were part of the exhibition.

What surprised us most about the exhibition was the enthusiasm, energy and passion of the photographers Verenice and Jose, their desire to show what they perceived by touch and hearing, and how they finally managed to show these pictures to society.

Diana Garcia, Paola Castillo, Federico Rivas, Daniel Almoril, Arek Golosz, Jasber Singh, Felipe Garrido and Ingrid Guyon – all participants and volunteers from the community project Fotosynthesis - contributed to this post.

London MexFest was organised in partnership with the British Council, the Mexican Embassy in London, and the Awakening Agency