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Judith Joy Ross, the photographer who captures everyday life in her portraits

Judith Joy Ross, the photographer who captures everyday life in her portraits

For their purpose, they have gone from anti-war activists to politicians. The Mapfre Foundation opens a retrospective on September 24 that reviews his career.

Judith Joy Ross (Hazleton, Pennsylvania, 75 years old) says that in the retrospective that opens on September 24 at the Mapfre Foundation from Madrid (where it will remain until January 9, 2022), visitors "are going to see portraits of people they don't know." She also did not know anything about those people before photographing them. 

"Except for my brother Edward and his roommate in Paris, Seydou," he points out. “They are Americans who go about their day-to-day business.

 I was attracted to photographing them in circumstances that expressed questions that I had about life: I took the children of Eurana Park when I was mourning the death of my father and I needed to remember innocence, I made the portraits of the Vietnam Memorial to face the sacrifice of that terrible war.

Anonymous figures and members of Congress have passed his lens, but his way of approaching them is always the same: «I approach with enthusiasm and a beautiful 8 × 10 bellows camera, A good combination". In the more than half a century that she has been dedicated to photography, this renowned portraitist - her work, almost always in black and white, is at MoMA - has not changed her method.

Never use a digital camera?

I think I am too old to learn new methods. I am 75 years old and the bellows camera fascinates me, I have no interest in changing it until something just as magical is created. Many people do not know that with these cameras you see the world upside down. It's amazing. But you cannot confuse beauty with content, you have to fight to achieve a good photograph.

Why did you become a photographer?

My dream since I was a child was to be an artist. After my first photography class at the School of Art, I realized that the real world that I saw with the camera, not that of my imagination, was the greatest source of meaning for me.

And what led her to portraits?

I do portraits because I seek to express what it means to be a person. To take a photo I have to overcome my shyness because if you wear a team that weighs 13 kilos you have to involve the person portrayed, create the image together.

Today more portraits are shared than ever through networks and mobiles. Does that change the way you see a job like yours?

It's interesting, but I don't know the answer. There must be megatons of wonderful and terrible images on the internet, and on my mobile, I sometimes receive photos of my family and friends, nature, pets. When I look at old family albums with the images pasted it seems to me that they often transcend with the passage of time weather, It's something you realize when you get older.

He began working in the 1970s, between protests and civil movements. How did this atmosphere influence your work?

I came to Chicago the night of the Democratic Convention riots, the Black Power and feminism were growing, and it was very encouraging. I remember wearing very short skirts at the time and was surprised by all the unwanted male attention I received.

Did the feminist movement influence your work at that time?

So I fully supported and understood the movement against the Vietnam War and the Black Power, but the feminist movement was not that important to me. But, of course, I knew and I know well everything about being discriminated against for being a woman.

His latest series are about the future of the planet. Why are you talking about the environmental fight now?

In The Devil Today and Reading to Dogs color images I tackled climate change and used them by activist Josh Fox and actor Mark Ruffalo to protest gas fracking. Sadly, that continues in Pennsylvania, and with Trump, coal mining was resurrected in my town. Now I photograph trees. It's the closest I'll ever get to religion.

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