Double Exposure: Featuring Eva Mecham

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Double Exposure is a collaborative series that features the work of an admired artist.

LightLeaks second featured artist is Eva Mecham–a Vegas-based photographer who strives to represent women in an industry dominated by men. While the struggle to find respect always seems like a challenge, she continues her quest to become a respected photographer by practicing and perfecting her craft.

In this segment of Double Exposure, our aim is to support women, not just in photography but in every field where women are not represented fairly, respected or even paid enough in comparison to our male counterparts.

Eva and I interviewed each other to learn more about our love for photography, how our interest for photography originated, our influences and more.

EVA JACQUELINE MECHAM

  • Age: 23
  • DOB: 06/03/1994 Gemini
  • Background: Portuguese/Lao/German/French
  • Born: Las Vegas, NV
  • Raised: East Side Las Vegas

Insta Handles: 

  •  @spottiottieva was the first personal instagram I ever had but it became more technical to show ALL my work through.

…so I created the other two pages to serve as multiple outlets of exposure exuding different variable factors.

Humans AND Environment. Lol.

Why/how did get into photography?

My grandfather. He documented just about everything. He passed away in 2011 but his legacy lives on. He lived a life beyond what photos could show. His family traveled from Spain to America during the 1920’s. His determination, discipline, will, focus, and attention to detail rooted in me and allowed me to open my mind to the idea of collecting and acquiring but with tangibility and substance.

Past my grandfather stimulating my lifestyle choices I felt that spark after I developed my first roll of film. Being able to hold a photo in your hands is truly magic in the simplest form. Photos have influenced me my entire life. Keeps me constantly reverting back to instances and wishing I could save moments to time travel to. Just like music or a scent, a photo can greatly alter your perception or mood.

Last, a major reason I ever pushed my photography skills beyond documentation was skateboarding. I was at a young age when I fell more and more in love with every skate mag or video I ever watched. Naturally I began sourcing all my inspiration and tones through how the skateboarding industry plastered my brain. It’s common to have these wild kids throw themselves off staircases with ease and dive into 12ft deep drops every day. Whether it was filmed with thousand dollar equipment or the cheapest vx setup, A-1 quality images and content has always been around. It wasn’t until I learned real anticipation taking a pre meditated flick of a skater in motion performing a trick repeatedly without near success till maybe the 20th try in, that I understood the feeling of that equation. That 21st key shot is a high. All that focus.

What does your photos mainly consist /focus on? Why?

My photo collection is a mix of portraits of friends I’ve built connections or bridges with while the other half is a handful of my travels, daily life, and streets I walk through. I have to mention I LOVE ART of ANY kind. Art embodied within all forms. Especially if it doesn’t belong somewhere or a rule was broken to make or keep it there. I believe in the idea that the world truly is ours so exercising the freedom to express ourselves is common law to me. Almost like a personal passion project. On the other hand my favorite subject to photograph are literal human hands. I’m fascinated by hands. Our hands are such beautiful blessings that we often take for granted. With our hands we can touch, create, hurt, destroy, clean, whatever it be. Our hands are multifaceted and a huge relatable connection between us all as humans. No one hand is the same. Like our eyes, I feel they are also portals to the soul.

You are all about empowering women. How do you convey this in your work?

Confidence can be instilled in many ways but I have never seen more confidence instilled within a female more than when she enjoys a photo of herself. Living in this overly extroverted world, it’s common to find that most women compare themselves to everyone. Even men. I know this to be true because I can testify myself. I’ve grown up riddled with anxieties I’ve whispered to my inner conscience for so many years, without even realizing it. A photo can translate emotions and feelings you didn’t know you had. A virtual avenue. A portable capsule of what existed at that time. There is growth in a photo. People glorify in the beauty of a butterfly but fail to remember the stages of growth it took to become that butterfly we see. So for me to be able to capture the growth of is something one of a kind to me. Anyone or anything can have it’s photo taken. But it’s all about the subject. I stress to validate the women in my photos through our shared experience and what they represent passionately. Who are these women and how can I uniquely translate what they have made me feel through a mere photo for the world to perceive.

Talk about your experience collaborating on this project.

Norma! I’m extremely flattered you would have asked me to be a part of this project as it is so pure and beautiful. I love to share my thoughts and feelings and often feel I am overlooked and underestimated. Every once and awhile I meet someone who makes me feel human and included at the same time. I look up to you Norma as you are an incredibly vivid photographer with natural ability only acquired through patience, growth, focus, determination, and skill. I often wish we had met sooner. But there is a reason for everything and the influence you have provided has guided me quite a bit. I truly love Jelly and KNOW without a doubt that dog has a great soul. I’m lucky to have friends who aspire to create, as this will be so enjoyable in my older years to look back on and cherish as I fade.

Who is your fav photographer?

This is probably the hardest question you put on here but I’d have to say my grandfather.

Whose work has influenced your work the most?

I honestly wouldn’t be able to narrow it down but i enjoy and source my inspiration from lots of the lasting images of these timeless talents below….

  • Keegan Gibbs (so fucking fire)-
  • Atiba Jefferson (skateboarding essentials)
  • Mike O’Meally (classic skateboarding essentials)
  • Henry Chalfant (innumerable amounts of graffiti documentation)
  • Tobin Yelland (filmy skateboard shots)
  • Duran Levinson (insane portrait photographer)
  • Craig Stecyk (Z-town documenter/skateboarding essentials)
  • JR (graffiti/wheatpastephotographer)
  • Martha Cooper (80’s legend in street art journalism)
  • Alex Fakso (skate & graffiti essentials)
  • Ruedi One (for those wet blk&wht artsy street nights)
  • Ed Templeton (almost forgot this legend)
  • Nan Goldin (female legend)
  • Haris Nukem (vivid portrait photographer)
  • Ruth Orkin (female legend)

Who are you currently listening to, music-wise?

I have this private playlist I made myself I play every morning after I get up to get ready for the day. I’m revealing the first 3 songs but the rest is secret.

Rebel without a pause-Public Enemy.

Leaving Babylon-Sublime.

If 6 was 9-Jimi Hendrix.

Besides the essentials I‘ve been playing a lot of lo-fi hip hop beats/scratches/mixups while I work or create lately.

I usually have either an Alchemist or Madlib CD in my car stereo. I use a lot of CD’s and cassettes lol. Let’s just say my auxiliary option is variably unreliable so CD’s are solid lol.

What is your favorite photo you’ve taken and why?

I thought for so long on how to answer this. Haha. I have to say that every photo is my favorite. Not to feed the ego or anything but maybe in other words I’m a hoarder. Any and all photos I take fall into my collection and that to me is something that holds my life’s work and ultimate value. My archive. The best way to put this answer into perspective is the idea that I’m not done yet. I’m still constantly & avidly pursuing higher dimensions through photography, through life, through myself. For me to choose a favorite photo would be for me to say that I’ve reached some finished point. Don’t get me wrong I have favorited shots over others but like I said I love every photo I take because I love life.

Digital or film? Why?

Film is permanent. Technology isn’t built to last forever. You don’t need technology shooting film. Art in a post apocalyptic world is a priority. Creating something tangible is far more lasting to me. Especially one with an element of surprise.

A fixed restriction makes you think twice, I’m sure. Film is exactly that. Knowing you have that limited amount of shots, each one seems to count more. Film is a spectrum balance between a premeditated photo or a foggy moment in time. I’m a fast paced shooter but with shooting film I catch myself staring at nothing till I see something. Essentially, it’s something that actually slows me down and I need that.

Movie you’d recommend an aspiring photographer to watch for inspo.

Recommendation for inspo for an aspiring photographer hmmmm!

I’d say watch any Tim Burton film. That’s a given. I’m a major fan of Tim Burton’s movies and stories.

Then I’d say, Across the Universe and Inherent Vice. And after that watch some of Quentin Tarantino’s films. Those are all classic.


FEMALE POWUR PLAYLIST


EVA PHOTO GALLERY

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NORMA JEAN ORTEGA aka NJ

  • Sign: Gemini
  • Background: Filipino American
  • Born: Las Vegas, NV

Being self-taught, how do you educate yourself on new ideas and techniques to take better pictures?

I can’t say I was self-taught because my dad was photographer. So I essentially grew up with the concept of photography. One of my first jobs was at this photo studio at Meadows Mall. I learned the basics in color balance, posing models and composition. College is where I got my formal training in photography. I learned how to shoot strictly in manual when I took 3 years of black & white film photography. I became obsessed to say the least. Practicing photography in this manner gave me a sense of meaning behind the photos I took. I loved the idea of building a concept for the photos I had taken and embraced the idea of suspension and surprise.

But to answer your question, I learned new techniques by trail and error. I stuck to one camera for a long period of time until I felt like I’d mastered it, then I’d move on to the next one. YouTube is also a thing. LOL.
What is it that you want to say with your photographs, and how do you channel your work to illustrate that? Why?
My personal photography documents moments and captures feelings that I like to look back on. A photo diary for the most part.

The subjects I touch on—in my more serious work—aims to unpack what it means to be an Asian American female. I express distressing feelings from my childhood, my feelings towards Asian stereotypes and dissect the standards of beauty in Asian culture.

When packing photo gear for a trip, what all do you take with you and why?

My olympus stylus, fujifilm 400/800.
A majority of the photos I take on a trip mimic the documentary style that I grew up with, however instead of focusing on people I try to focus on a moment and gut feeling that I am drawn to capture.

What motivates you to continue taking photos, whether it be socially, economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
Everything is cathartic for me. It is a way to release a thought or feeling that I wouldn’t otherwise know how to express. Writing was my source of releasing this energy but through photography, I love how subjective it is to everyone else. You can share your work and get a complete different reaction or thought for what it was intended. But for me, when I look at my images, I know exactly how I felt and what I was struggling with at moment. It is somewhat of a reminder.

Within the aspect of women and social culture, what would you say is the difference between capturing beauty vs. vulgarity?

I think that what is considered vulgar for women is a popular theme in art, where artists are trying to breakdown that social norm for women. What was expected of women is being shattered by the “vulgar” images expressed by various female artists and photographers. It is essential, necessary and about fuckin’ time. To be lady-like was a standard put together by men. With that said, women are fully capable of conducting themselves however they see fit.

How did you develop an interest in photography and at what age were you?

Grew up around photography because of my dad. So I guess I always had an interest in photography. I grew up with a camera in my face and pool of albums of every major holiday and moment in my life. One of my first jobs was working in a photo studio called Photomania. Kids would go there to take their high school photos and basically trade them to each other like Pokemon cards. Hahah!

But working there was dope! I got to learn how to print from an old school printing machine. Had to clean that beast of a machine and take it apart every night. But I never took photography seriously until college. It’s when I finally learned about the greats (like Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Cindy Sherman, and Weegee) that I completely got turned on to it.

Whose work has influenced you most, any favorites?
Francesca Goodman, Nan Goldin, Ren Hang, Petra Collins, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Kubrick, Catherine Angel and Kimber Beck.

When you are out shooting, how much of it is instinctual vs planned?

Half and half. And some times it’s completely spontaneous which is the best because when you feel that it’s the right moment, you just gotta go for it and pray that the photo comes out the way you wanted.

How has social media played a role in your photography?

It’s influenced me in the ways of curating my posts. Before, I just use to post whatever. But I think moving along the years of Instagram, I’ve seen how streamlined people can get with their style and feel of their photos. I also have my job to thank for that too.

While, I do curated my post, the work is still all mine. So I still see my Instagram as a photo journal but broken down into different segments.

What advice can you dish for any entry level photographers?

By a cheap camera and master it. Don’t buy into getting high quality gear until you find your style. Also, hang out with the local photographers you admire. You want to surround yourself with people who will push you to do better. A good piece of advice I learned from my cousin, Ez. Thanks cuh!

and of course i almost forgot….Talk about your experience collaborating on this project.

From our initial meeting at 6th & Franklin, I knew you we’re a go-getter! Actually, I hadn’t even met you yet but people we’re talking you up so hard that I was honestly intimidated. But real talk, I admire your constant drive to create work and your strive to improve your skills as a photographer. You are a walking and talking think-tank!

Doing this project was another project that I felt drawn to do, just like with my first Doublexposure guest, Andi. Everything I pursue in terms of interviews is purely for the need to connect with people who I admire. I am proud for what you stand for as an artist and I will support you every step of the way. Love ya girl 😘


NORMA JEAN PHOTO GALLERY

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Body Image Talks: Featuring Sam Roche

BodyTalksThumbnailBODY IMAGE TALKS is a new series that opens the discussion about the struggles of body image.

Meet Sam Roche. An grandeur soul, an open-book and an insane vocalist. Originally from New York, Sam drove across the country to kickstart her music career in Las Vegas with former band, Bitterheart. After the band split up, Sam traveled back to New York, where her story begins. Watch our interview about how Sam suffered 3rd degree burns in the most sensitive parts of her body and her journey to embrace and love her new body.

Through this collaborative project, Sam and I want to spread the message of self-love and also give love and support back to everyone out there struggling with some sort of body image issue(s). I know a lot of us are in the same boat about hating on the way our body looks–constantly comparing it to others and even comparing ourselves to our past “young” bodies.

But honestly, it’s time to say “fuck all that.” This is the year to love your body for what it is. Self-love and self-care is everything. I am learning that. Sam is learning it more and more every day. So, be gentler on yourself. Remember that you are a work-in-progress. And that’s all that matters!


💖 SAM’S PERSPECTIVE 💖

“waking up with permanent damage to most of your body is a very dissociating experience. it is hard for your brain to wrap itself around the fact that this is really happening to you, or that you’re surviving. it continues to be confusing as i watch my skin heal itself- i have been more wounded than i ever imagined AND healed more than i thought possible in the scope of a year.

sharing a photo, allowing people to react to it… helps me process everything i’m going through. it gives me others to relate to instead of being stuck in my head. it makes me feel like my scars are out in the open, instead of a secret i am carrying alone, hidden by clothes.
instead of feeling isolated by my trauma, i have found it has given me opportunities to share conversation about healing, love and acceptance.

i’ve been asked why i am posting images of my naked body online. the worst of the burns were on my vagina. i can’t show the extent of the damage without revealing more of my body than i “might usually” on the internet. i’m giving up some privacy to help myself heal by sharing my story. my hope is that i can also help others feel less alone by being open about my experience

pictures from the hospital are hard for me to look at. there’s no light in my eyes. i couldn’t move. i couldn’t take care of myself. the photos i am sharing now stand in such stark contrast to the person i see looking back on those moments. it’s hard to remember being so weak and defeated. i prefer to share images that show my healing and acceptance.

my body has become a physical symbol of strength i didn’t know i had in me.”


✨10 WAYS TO LOVE THY BODY✨

[💗] Take care of it (inside + out)
[💗] Exercise (not just to lose weight but for mental health + endorphins)
[💗] Accept your uniqueness in personality + image
[💗] Stop comparing: That means stop comparing yourself to your past self and to others.
[💗] Stop weighing yourself:  It isn’t about weight but about health.
[💗] Take the necessary steps to change it!
[💗] Set small goals and stick to them.
[💗] Make those goals realistic.
[💗] Note: Extreme dieting and exercise usually end up being a short term failure.
[💗] Listen to Sam’s “FeelGood” Playlist:


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Artist Spotlight: David.cuf

 

 


Meet Las Vegas electronic music producer, David.cuf. The freshly 21-year old found his calling to music as a means of escape from the mundaneness of life. After moving to Las Vegas, he found roots at 6th&Music–an artist development camp in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas–where he produced his latest EP, Thea. You can catch him playing around the valley with Las Vegas’ one-and-only beat collective, The Rabbit Hole.

Check out the latest episode to learn about the inner workings of this talented and truly humble artist.


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Artist Spotlight: Sonia Barcelona

Sonia Barcelona (aka Seelinger) represents Las Vegas as a musical muse who celebrates the beauty of brown skin, true friendship, and love in her lyrics. Her voice is smooth as honey and as cool as a Sade classic.

I had goosebumps listening to her performance during her April 1st video release party for her newest single “Higher.” Joining Barcelona, we’re local artists David.cuf, Elmer Albapo, and Rasar of The Lique. The collective came together to put on an amazing performance at Zet Gold’s studio (The Bakery).

During our interview, Sonia revealed that she was a late bloomer when it came to music but she always had a natural talent for it. “I played the flute and didn’t practice…but somehow I was first chair [in high school],” Sonia said with a smile and a shrugged.

Growing up, Sonia helped her mom with her shop at the Broadacre’s Swapmeet, which was one of the reasons she never committed to music in her youth. She was wearing mala beads that she wore as a lucky charm to remind her of how far she’s come in life. “I’m grateful to be playing music for what I do now,” Sonia stated. She continued, pointing to the mala beads, “I remind myself that I could be in 100-degree weather for six hours so things could be a lot worse.”

Sonia just finished touring the West Coast, stopping through San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland. Next up, Sonia makes her way to San Diego to record some new gems.


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Muse Moments: Angela Johnson

MUSE MOMENTS is an interview series that focuses on the stories of creative women to help inspire and enlighten others.

Take a moment w/ Angela Johnson. She is an artist, creative director at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the President of AIGA. Angela shares her journey of success despite facing major obstacles, as well as discussing her artwork centered around connecting with people.


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Double Exposure: Featuring Andi Artigue

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Double Exposure is a new collaborative series that features the work of an admired artist along w/ my own photographic work. The first featured artist is Andi (Andrea) Artigue–an amazing photographer native to Las Vegas.


Perspective: Norma Jean
Title: Androgynous Gaze

Most people don’t understand my obsession w/ film but that’s exactly why I was drawn to Andi for this collaborative project. Andi was the girl I met in my first year of black & white photography. Naturally, I grew to admire her work for how intimate, ethereal, and beautiful her captures were. They were memorizing, to say the least.

When I approached Andi about working together, I didn’t realize how much I would take away from the experience. It was a chance to connect. A chance to unload creatively. An opportunity to take the time to craft something amazing with an incredibly beautiful soul.

My biggest takeaway was our meetings for the project, where we had the chance to get to know one another on a deeper level. Sharing intimate stories about family and how we met our boyfriends. All the while geeking out about our love for film.

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Photos of Andi:
The focus of the photos is about representing an androgynous beauty; One that breaks the norms of what the media and society classify as feminine beauty. The purpose is to cast a light on gender fluid thinking.

Details: Kodak 200 film | Nikon FM


Perspective: Andi

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When Norma Jean and I first met up to discuss our ideas and plans for this shoot, at one point she brought up how she was inspired by a close friend of hers who had recently gone through some hardships. She explained in depth the need she feels to create, and when it’s been too long since she has, she feels as if something is missing.  I saw a few tears form in her eyes as she looked into mine, I cried too. Maybe it was the pot we just smoked or maybe it was two artists connecting knowing exactly how the other felt.

Norma Jean is a visionary who knows what she wants to capture within herself and makes it happen. I flow more with my surroundings and as I look into my viewfinder I wait. I wait for that fleeting moment when my mind tells me now, because of this, we were able to ignite each other.

When she was taking my photograph, after I heard the sound of the shutter there were multiple times I would hear her say “ that is gonna be a good one” I knew exactly what she meant. Our minds crave photography. It’s our passion that at times can be hard to explain. Through that, we get each other. It’s comforting, overwhelming, and lovely to find someone you can share that with. Thank you, Norma Jean.

-Andi

Details: Kodak Portra | Contax t2 and Fujifilm 400H Pro | Hassleblad 500C/M

Group Hug @ PublicUs

 

Josh Walker is the founder of a new exciting event held at PublicUs, called Group Hug. Held every second Saturday of the month,  Walker’s goal is to help fuel the art and music culture in Las Vegas. After living in Los Angeles for six years, Walker wanted to emulate the art shows and DJ performances he experienced out there. “One of my passions is to bring people together, but my biggest passion is music,” Walker said.

PublicUs helped aid in his vision after it became a staple for Walker when he moved back to Las Vegas two years ago. “I would come in every day when I lived in the area and the owners, Kimo and Lane, we’re unbelievably kind.” The idea sprung into fruition when Walker discovered a small event space adjacent to the main coffee shop. “I thought that I could raise awareness for PublicUs, because it’s an amazing local shop that everyone should know about,” Walker said.

The featured artists, Zet Gold, Angela Johnson, and Ian Racoma, brought on an electric array of art that the crowd continually circled around to observe. With Walker and Tony Comfort spinning groovy tunes throughout the evening, Group Hug was a successful night of art, music, and good vibes.


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Beach Goth Vlog

Here, I documented our little trip in California. Initially, we came for the Beach Goth music festival but after a storm came through and flooded the venue, my friends and I made fun elsewhere. Check out our adventure through the musical fun and the spontaneous activities!

Interview with Battle Born Pins

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Meet Gabe Allred and Holly Rae Vaughn, the creative masterminds behind Battle Born Pins. What started as an obsession for Gabe, turned into an overnight success for the couple. After releasing their unicorn pin, inspired by Blade Runner, the duo was shortly discovered by Vice’s, The Creators Project. Get to know more about how they started, their creative process, and more in our Light Leaks interview.

 

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