It starts like many ideas usually do; a spur of the moment, inspired by the motivation to create something that will be memorable long after its time has passed. The day was December 30, 2005 and we were celebrating Marién's move to New York. I met Marién earlier that year at a friend's gathering, a dancer and Yoga student; she was drawn to my passion in learning photography and was willing to pose patiently as I fumbled with my recently acquired camera learning how to pose people. Over the year we became very good friends and her eager smiles and positive attitude became a very welcome sight.
That night we celebrated new beginnings with old friends in a restaurant located in old San Juan called “Ostra Cosa”, as we were leaving the restaurant I pitched the idea to her;” Let's stay and take photos of the last sunrise of the year, frame the end of one moment as a new phase in life starts". Marién, being the positive and eager soul loved the idea, so we hurried on to "El Morro" to greet the sunrise with camera in hand.
It seemed like a great idea at the time, a nice symbolic way to greet the New Year, at the moment I had no idea that this would become tradition for us.
The next year turned out to be a perfect lesson in being prepared. Marién was back in Puerto Rico and we got together planning to repeat this. We decided on shooting at her apartment's rooftop in Carolina, the urban landscape giving us a nice contrast to a warm rising sun. Sadly, our plans were turned to mud as the rain had other plans.
So there we were sitting in my car frustrated beyond belief with a nonstop torrent of rain washing around us. It’s a shame my younger self still hadn’t learned a lesson in perseverance that great photography would require. We didn't shoot anything, just took a few frustrated snaps on the car and went to our respective homes.
In hindsight it’s easy to see how we could’ve gotten a few umbrellas to shoot in the rain as we adapted to the situation. In the future things would go differently; rain should’ve been a reason to adapt instead of give up. It was a lesson that only time could teach.
2007 made it impossible for us to take our photo, but we came back with a vengeance for 2008. Marién was now a Yoga teacher and I had was more proficient on the use of flashes, we retook our idea deciding on a rooftop shot at my parents' home in Dorado.
This photo reminds me how patient my parents were with my wacky behavior. Here I was at 4am setting up staircases and walking along the roof of the house with a girl they barely know in order to take a simple photo. I still wonder what was going through their brains.
The years had also given us both more knowledge in our respective areas. Marién was more impressive than ever, showing not only grace and agility but also greater endurance in retaining postures. I had gotten better at using flashes and learning to play with umbrella.
Needless to say we were both very pleased with the results.
As it happens with many things in life, time will make people slowly drift apart, our different responsibilities and goals meant that by the end of 2009 we had barely communicated for most of the year. When I finally gave her a call, it was like we hadn't spoken for just a day, our sunrise project would continue and we were back in planning to make we created something memorable.
This time, we decided on the botanical garden located in Rio Piedras, a lovely and relaxing place where many people go to walk or meditate. We arrived very early when everything was still completely dark; this gave us some time to catch up while we drove around looking for a suitable shooting spot. The security noticed us from the moment I opened one of the umbrellas, they warned us against doing professional shooting without permits, however they didn’t push the issue and allowed us to continue to a nearby spot.
Once we reached our destination, the rain began showering us, first gently and then furiously as it began to lose patience over our insistence to finish our shoot no matter the conditions. We continued shooting using some leaves to save the flashes from dying and doing our best to hurry. When we finished shooting, we quickly stashed the gear in the bags and hiked back to the car, feeling like little kids with the satisfaction of knowing we had taken great photos as we walked while being drenched in the rain.
2010 was the year of the unexpected. Changes coming at the most casual of moments, like lightning striking when you least expect it, these changes forcing me to rethink priorities and making me wonder how far ahead could I really plan my life, it was a volatile time in my life that would bring about even more change in 2011.
As before we didn't have much communication until the end of the year when tradition screamed at us to get together and continue with our project. This time our location would be a natural reserve called Tortuguero lagoon, a serene place that served as a great backdrop for our newest photo. Having such great chemistry with Marién, we arrived, shot and left in less than 30 minutes. We both knew what we were looking for, a peaceful relaxing photo with water elements covering the bottom of our frame.
Besides this shot, I was also concentrating on recording the lasts days of the year with the hope of telling a story in a simple and short format. You can see a little of our shoot by 1:40 of this video.
Many of the changes 2011 brought were the result of events that happened late 2010. The biggest being my move from Puerto Rico to New York, separating myself from everyone I ever cared about in the hopes of finding a better life.
With this change in life and 1600 mile standing between us, completing this year's project would require a bit more planning than in previous times. We had hoped to do it as before, but sadly with plane tickets for the new year were prohibitively expensive so our shoot would to be postponed until early January when travel became more reasonable. With a little bit of luck, we locked the date and prepared for another early morning shoot.
It was the perfect year to go back to our first location, "El Morro" in Old San Juan. It seems ironic now, when we started our project, it was a celebration of Marién's new life in New York, now years later we celebrated my all too brief return to Puerto Rico .It was also the first time we had help on our shoot, as my girlfriend brought her trademark humor with us.
After we were done, we stopped by "La bombonera" for some very tasty breakfast and reminiscenced over previous years, the good times and the bad. As we were about to leave we realized, until we had done this shoot we didn't feel like the year had ended properly, it was a good feeling.