Double Exposure: Featuring Eva Mecham

IMG_0857

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

S E T  1

 

 

 

S E T  2

 

 

 

S E T  3

 

 

 

FILM SET

 

 


 

IMG_0858

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

SET 1

 

 

 

SET 2

 

 

 

SET 3

 

 

 

FILM SET

 

 

 

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:


PHOTO GALLERY

 

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!

Style Profile with Fashionnica

 

 

Nica Moten (aka Fashionnica) has been spotted doing everything from modeling clothes for local brands (like Crykit’s Playhouse and KYNEW), hosting RAW Femme’s first inaugural artist showcase and empowering women with her new business, HER Collection. She is a model, freelance fashion stylist, and an online shop boutique owner. To top it all off, Fashionnica is proud to be launching her self-named clothing line in November.

Meeting Nica for the first time, her warm, bubbly, and enthusiastic personality is refreshing and up-lifting. During our interview, she described herself as someone who loves her city and is someone who wants to contribute to the growth that Las Vegas has been experiencing. “Vegas has been unique all along. We are slowly changing the way our culture looks at our city. Not for the sin, but for the beautiful structure and substance we have from all the amazing artists this city harbors,” Nica said.

Although born in San Diego, Nica moved to Las Vegas at a young age and has always appreciated the diversity of cultures she grew up around. “In high school, every ethnic culture was at my school…since it’s a transit town, everyone is in and out but while people are here they bring their values, cultures, and art from their hometowns. It’s a beautiful thing,” Nica said.

Always growing her repertoire of talents, Nica received her cosmetology license from Euphoria, attended Fashion Careers International in Los Angeles for merchandise marketing where she also received her fashion buyers license. Sometime in mid-November, she will be presenting her own clothing line, Fashionnica. Highly inspired by the 90s and elements in nature, the Fashionnica line will have a mix of basic pieces and edgy pieces.

Nica was gracious enough to collaborate on an interview and styling video with me to showcase her talents. Watch our interview to learn more about the boss babe and check out how she styles summer pieces into Fall appropriate outfits.


Summer to Fall outfits

OUTFIT #1
OUTFIT #2
OUTFIT #3

Artist Spotlight with Zet Gold

Zet Gold’s art is playful, childlike, and occasionally backed by clever puns. She calls the process of creating art “birdwatching” which expresses stories made from daily observations.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Gold grew up praying in underground churches with styrofoam windows. Her father moved from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia for work, where he was also a missionary pastor. Concealing her Christian faith in a Muslim country gave Gold an interesting perspective to view the world from. After burying their Bibles in the ground, Gold and her family left Saudi Arabia for San Diego, then eventually to Las Vegas.

Gold recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a BFA in graphic design and has exhibited countless art shows.  The Bakery, is where you can find her creating most of her work—she shares the studio with her brother, Miah (fashion designer), and Jasmin (fashion photographer). She credits street graffiti as her doorway into the art world. “It kinda started off just hitting up trains with my brother, then a year after I started to take art more serious,” Gold said.

Besides “birdwatching” Gold has collaborated with various local artists, musicians and businesses—Flora Pop, Echo Stains and Chase R. McCurdy to name a few. Her next show will be a The Bakery on November 12th with musician, Sonia.

Get Pumped For Life is Beautiful

Life Became Beautiful

Growing up as a child in the 90s to the early 2000s, I never thought that Las Vegas would ever bring a music scene, let alone a music festival. Although, skeptical about Life is Beautiful, after attending the first year, the experience was better than I could have expected. Never have I ever had food at a music festival that donned the name of a reknown chef. Never have I ever had the ease of finding my way around a music festival because it was well organized. While I wanted to be the scrooge of Life is Beautiful, I actually fell in love with it.This year, Life is Beautiful is scheduled a month early, falling on September 25-27.

Tips To Beat Traffic & Parking

If you are a local, here are a few suggestions to beat the traffic and avoid the horrendous parking situation.

1] Take the Shuttle: Life is Beautiful is providing shuttles from various locations around the Valley. For UNLV students, the most convenient pick up place is the Thomas & Mack black lot, where parking is free after 1 p.m. on Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.

2] Book a Hotel: If you’re feeling lucky, try downloading the app Hotel Tonight for discounted hotel prices the night of the festival.

3] Crash Downtown With Friends: If you have friends that live in the downtown area, see if you could crash at their place. The festival will be a short walk or bike ride away, and with friends the journey to the festival could be just as fun as being there.

4] Uber and Lyft: The epic battle waged by state regulators on Uber and Lyft has finally ceased. The ride sharing companies have been up and running in Las Vegas since Sept. 15. So festival goers can now download those apps, make use of those coupon codes and party without worry.

5] Get dropped off: Plan ahead and ask a friend who is nice enough to drop you off near the music festival. If you’re lucky they’ll be nice enough to pick you up afterwards. Otherwise, Uber and Lyft are your new best friends.

What To Wear

1] Dress to be seen: Festivals aren’t for wallflowers or the timid. Life is Beautiful is as much about celebration as it is a place for music. Fashionistas of all genders and identities should be able express themselves and be accepted there.

2] Protect Your Toes and Soles: Shoes complete the outfit, but walking noon to dawn can leave your feet pounding. Invest in some sole inserts to make shoes more comfy. Also, if you have a problem with people dancing on your toes, go with closed-toe shoes.

3] Pack light, but smart: The last thing anyone wants is a lost phone or wallet. Bring a comfortable, secure bag that will be easy enough to carry all day. Stick to the essentials, whatever that means for you – but make sure to take all of those old receipts out of your bag first.

4] Dealing with the heat: September in Vegas is still dripping with heat. Add dancing, walking, eating and windstorms to the mix and there is no guarantee you will leave the grounds looking the way you walked in. Remember to bring somethings to freshen up halfway through the day. If you decide to wear makeup, bring the essentials needed to touch up. Lipstick, sunscreen, mascara and some moist towelettes will come in handy.

Top Music Festival Advice

1] Stay hydrated: Common sense, but easy to forget. Hydration does not mean three bottles of Dos Equis. Water and something to replenish your electrolytes will do wonders while hoofing it from stage to stage.

2] Enjoy the music: Put away your cell phone for one musical act that you love. We live in a digital age, but watching the performance is much more memorable than watching it through the screen of your cellphones. Okay, okay – well, maybe take at least one good photo.

3] Eats: Prepare to be well-fed with choices from the best restaurants, food trucks and chefs in town. One could go into a food coma just by looking at everything up for grabs. However, food can be an investment. Expect to start spending $10 to $12 per food item. For those on a tight budget, there will be food trucks with friendlier prices.

4] Positive Vibes: Keep your vibe positive and friendly. Remember you’re there to share in an amazing experience with others. Don’t be that person who starts a fight in the middle of the chill atmosphere to show how badass you think you are. Just be cool and people will be cool.


Published for the Rebel Yell @ the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.