At a reception for the “Through Our Eyes” photo exhibit at the West Deptford library on Jan. 21, photographers Jay Espinal and Shawna Marchica-Vanleer displayed their work.
On the left side of the room were black and white photos of people in the streets of Philadelphia and other places in New Jersey shot by Espinal. Marchica-Vanleer specializes in landscape photography, and her work was featured on the right side of the exhibit.
“My work is black-and-white street photography and is basically a representation of the human condition,” Espinal said of his work. “And it just captures candid moments in the streets. Some people I speak to and some people I don’t, and it’s just honoring the people and strangers I see in the streets.”
“I just love taking my camera, getting in the car and just finding these little moments, like in the present, that I could preserve, and they’re gonna technically be in the past, so we could see the past and I’m capturing it,” Marchica-Vanleer said of her photography.
“I just love editing the photos, and there’s just something about having a camera and capturing these little moments in life,” she added. “… It really excites me.”
Guests at the exhibit could buy copies of the photos: $250 for Espinal’s prints and $150 for those by Marchica-Vanleer. The artists took time to talk to those who attended and discussed, among other things, what they look for when taking a photo. Their families and friends were also on hand.
“I’ve been doing photography since high school and I used to take pictures of inanimate objects and anything else I thought was cool,” Espinal recalled. “But it wasn’t until I took that picture right over there,” he added, pointing at one print. “It’s called “Dignity,” and that gentleman (in the photo) changed the way I saw photography.
“I came home with that picture and was just blown away by the human connection in it, and ever since then, all of my pictures have people in them.”
“For me, it’s really what I find interesting in that moment and being able just to capture it,” Marchica-Vanleer recalled. “There’s something about that I just find to be exhilarating.”
The duo are New Jersey residents who work together as digital media instructors at Swenson Art and Technology High School in Philadelphia. The “Through Our Eyes” show is their first exhibit together. It will continue through Friday March 3.