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
- @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.
- @sweetleaf_phto is female energy only and conceptual portraits/groupshots.
- @jacqueline_images is my art and street photo page.
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.
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
S E T 1
S E T 2
S E T 3
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