Art

David Caras: Photography Found Me

I work to see through the layers of aging right down to the beauty of what once was

Images by David Caras - Interview by Icarus Blake

David Caras is a true photographer, one who sees the world through the “eyes of an artist”. His “portraits” are more than just pretty pictures; rather, they are forms of communication and exploration.

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Do you remember the precise moment you fell in love with photography and why?
1975 is the year that photography found me. It was a time in my life that I was still searching for a focus. By sheer coincidence I met photographer Harold Feinstein, who was teaching at a small liberal arts college in Vermont. Within minutes of conversing with him I found myself thinking about how communication through the lens of a camera made so much sense to me. From Harold and his infectious love of life and art, I learned that I could use the camera as a tool, taking pictures being the strongest language that I could speak. To this day, it is a passion that continues to fulfill me, the visual language providing me with my truest voice.

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

In your beautiful Cuba series you seem to want to eliminate the tri-dimensionality in your images of facades and cars. It is obviously an aesthetic choice. Can you please tell us why you chose to do that?
I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I can tell you a little about how I go about making images while shooting in Cuba. I approach the series of cars and facades as if they are posing for me. I consider the cars as formal portraits, profiles of an object, each one almost human in its elegant presence. The façade and electrical series are layered with history. I work to see through the layers of aging right down to the beauty of what once was. The beauty is still in there; it just takes time and thoughtful study to get to it. I work to get beyond the surface viewpoint of a tourist, into the belly and rawness that lies below. With patient, thoughtful observation I can extract the beauty from within what is right in front of me.

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Your Ireland series has a very different approach, landscape camera and black and white. It’s almost the opposite point of view of Cuba. Why?
For the first twenty-five years of my career I was strictly a black and white film photographer, never keen on color photos. Then, on my first trip to Cuba, a whole new world opened up visually. The rich rawness and beauty of the landscape and the people was so energized and immediate. It screamed out to be documented in the color format and I just followed my heart and went for it. Contrasting with the beauty of Ireland, in a funny way it isn’t all that different. Just a matter of different personalities and listening to what they have to say.
Where as Cuba has a decayed beauty and energy that constantly makes you think of what once was, Ireland has another type of beauty, a timelessness that feels ancient and haunting. There is a soothing openness to the landscape there that just spoke to me in a quieter way and the black and white format seemed the best way to capture that.

Kew Gardens © David Caras

Kew Gardens © David Caras

You were lucky enough to collaborate with Harold Feinstein. Was he a great influence in your work? Or have you drawn inspiration more from other artists and if yes, which ones?
I consider Harold to be my true mentor. Yes, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him, but it was so much more than that. He not only introduced me to the medium, but to a way of seeing in the world. He was a very non-traditional teacher, totally unpretentious and open. Through his guidance and example I learned to trust my own voice and vision. Part of that means being open to getting inspiration from anywhere. I think that’s why I like to travel so much, just getting out there in the world with eyes wide open and see what gets the creative juices flowing. I do also like looking at what other photographers are doing. There is so much strong, interesting work being made and looking at what others are doing gets me thinking about my own.

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

I’ve seen some great portraits you shot on Instagram, the ones with a magnifying lens in front of the face. They are not on your website and, as a matter of fact, you seem to have ignored the human element up until now. Why?
Those portraits are part of a series that I started in the late nineties. The project was put on hold due to a studio fire I experienced at that time. I just recently revisited them and posted them on Instagram. I realize that it is an idea that I am still very interested in and intend on pursuing. Considering the lack of the human element in most of my photos, it is a conscious aesthetic decision. I look at the auto and facade series as “portraits” in their own right and feel the lack of people in them enhances the quiet stillness of the images.

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

We ask this often… The world of digital images and the speed of technology are shortening more and more the lifespan of images. We all have agreed here that you cannot stop the future. But do you see an implosion of all this? What’s your opinion?
Implosion is not something I am concerned about. With all the developments in technology we have so many opportunities to look at images and make images like never before, whether it be with a cell phone or through the lens of a camera. A handful of people can point their camera in the same direction and the results would be a handful of different images created, all different perspectives, some better than others. I don’t view that as a bad thing, just a result of the technology available to us. Clearly some are better than others, the eye of an artist is a real thing, and having the tools so readily available for anyone to find their creative potential can only be good.

More of David Caras work can be seen on his Instagram

Kew Gardens © David Caras

Kew Gardens © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

Cuba © David Caras

4 Responses to “David Caras: Photography Found Me”

  1. Jeff Nedeau says:

    Great story and a great man. I’ve known David since the late nineties and not a more real person without ego that I’ve met. Excellent interview. Great answers Dave!

  2. David caras says:

    Hey Jeff, believe it or not, I just saw how wonderful comment at citizenbrooklyn, many thanks and hope is well with you,cheers..and best… David

  3. Yolande Michaud says:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing David! Great article as well!

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