author on a pier with Lake Atitlan in Guatemala behind him
author on a pier with Lake Atitlan in Guatemala behind him

I am a professional photographer with a background in theatrical filmmaking (horror films mostly) and digital media for both profit and non-profit organizations. I’ve been doing these things as well as private tutoring for about 30 years now.

I’ve been writing for Medium since December 2020, and I am really enjoying it. I try to put stuff up based on my own experience as a photographer, filmmaker, or frequent visitor to Guatemala at least once a week. I also try to add historical context and esthetic appreciation of photography whenever it’s appropriate in both of my publications here.

The audience…


The portraits of Diane Arbus, Phillip-Lorca diCorcia, Katy Grannan, and the Three Fs of working on the street

Photo by R.Quezada-Dardon

The woman leaning in the doorway didn’t ask for money. We just had a friendly conversation while I waited for an Uber. She told me that her name was Juana Maria Gomez Soto and that the doorstep we were standing on was where she slept at night. There don’t seem to be many homeless people in Guatemala City; the government has no patience with their existence, but she was old and, according to her, not a nuisance, so she was let be.

When I asked her what town she was from initially, and she told me, her eyes lit up…


Photographing a stranger’s house during magic hour

A farmhouse caught in the headlights of a car
A farmhouse caught in the headlights of a car
Photo by R.Quezada-Dardon

An angry-looking man who drives an old beat-up truck and has tattoos on his neck lives here. I did not know that until I knocked on his door one afternoon. I go by this house a couple of times a week on my way to my printing studio. Its solitariness at the end of a long driveway is what always gets my attention from the road: a small house sitting at the back of a vast yard with even more acreage behind it.

After a couple of years, it happened that the time of day, season, weather, and, most importantly…


The Passion told with pictures of trees, grass, stone, and water

A ring of trees around a pond covered in lilies could look like people feasting at a dinner table.
A ring of trees around a pond covered in lilies could look like people feasting at a dinner table.
The Last Supper

At one time, this collection of landscapes was meant to be about entropy. Evidence of this process that nature goes through on its way to disorder and dissolution happens continuously everywhere, of course, but it is so obvious in the woods and creeks near where I live.


The craft of photography has made me far more money than the art of photography.

Most people who decide on a career in art that they’ve had their hearts set on since they were very young have naive notions of the profession’s lifestyle and processes based on what it was like in a previous era. Or, if it’s a desire they’ve acquired as adults, it’s a very romanticized assumption of what it’s going to be like.

Film still from the projection booth scene in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.
Film still from the projection booth scene in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.
Citizen Kane by Orson Welles — Cinematography by Gregg Toland

I went to a film school where each week for three years I watched four or five of the most artistically amazing films ever made from all over the world. Not on DVD, not streaming, but projected on a…


Thoughts on the psychology of posing.

“A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.” — Richard Avedon.

The author’s mother when she was 20 posing in a bathing suit.
The author’s mother when she was 20 posing in a bathing suit.
Los Aposentos, Guatemala — ca 1948

1.

There is a picture of my mother in a one-piece bathing suit taken a couple of years before she was married. She leans up against the wood post of a barbed wire fence next to a swimming pool. Her lips are colored, I am sure, a deep rich red, but in the monochromatic photographs of those days, they are a…


Second in a series on the Cal family from Altaverapaz

Lucrecia, a young Mayan woman makes a soup next to her wood-burning stove
Lucrecia, a young Mayan woman makes a soup next to her wood-burning stove

Darkness always falls on Altaverapaz around six or six-thirty. It is close enough to the equator that there is hardly any fluctuation all year round with the hour in the evening when this happens, or when the sun begins to tint the sky again exactly 12 hours later. Before that happens, each adjoining room in this three-room, dirt-floor house is lit by a single 60-watt, golden-yellow light bulb hanging from the center of each ceiling. They must be LED, for they wreak havoc on the color sensors in my camera.

This carpenter’s home is sparsely furnished. There is a single…


Shooting a photo essay in the highlands of Guatemala

Lucrecia and her aunt on a mountrain trail that winds through a landscape covered with cornfields
Lucrecia and her aunt on a mountrain trail that winds through a landscape covered with cornfields
Neither our starting point nor our destination is anywhere near here.

Forty-five minutes after politely rejecting the silver-haired woman’s offer to help me carry my things, I was motioning to her if she wouldn’t mind taking my tripod for a while. She spoke only Pokomchí. I knew only Spanish and English. A trio of us had descended into a deep valley covered with tall, bright green cornstalks, and after a long trudge through an immense maze, my thighs were now feeling the ground begin to ascend. Lucrecia turned and smiled, watching me as I sheepishly handed the awkward device to her aunt. Her high cheeks and almond-shaped eyes playfully said I…


“Photography is still a very new medium and everything must be tried and dared…photography has no rules. It is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved.” — Bill Brandt

“Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks.”Henri Cartier-Bresson

seagull flying between a ship, its tugboat, and the distant sun blurred by fog
seagull flying between a ship, its tugboat, and the distant sun blurred by fog
Photo by Bill Brandt — (Fair Use for Illustration purposes)

This is a picture by Bill Brandt that I’ve used in the past as an example of how depth of field, shutter speed, and ISO all come together to form a perfect composition. Magnificent, isn’t it? …


Does being polite to AI make us more human?

Lately, I’ve been saying please and thank you to Alexa. I wondered if I was the only one. I gave up long ago believing that anything we did, like naming a daughter Daniela, was original or unique to anybody’s generation, so I googled this behavior and discovered, sure enough, it’s become like a thing. So much so a thing that it’s even beginning to trouble experts in the field. There’s a field? Who knew? They have done studies and everything with results already in.

“The results may seem innocuous, but they trouble experts like Sherry Terkel, a psychologist at the…

Roberto Quezada-Dardon

Filmmaker, writer, photographer born in Guatemala, raised in Los Angeles, and now living near Philadelphia. Listed in IMDB and Wikipedia as Roberto A. Quezada

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