Photoset: Malcolm in Millennia – by Chris Mena

Written by and published on .

Over the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to visit Cincinnati and experience the people of The Queen City. Carrying my Olympus OM-10 on my neck started several conversations with local strangers (a darkroom teacher even stopped me to ask if I was shooting film).

People were curious not just about the camera, but also about my Dominican heritage and why in the world would a New Yorker go to Cincinnati for a vacation. The answer? Nobody ever tells me “I’m going to Cincinnati“. It’s always L.A., Miami, London, Cabo, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.


It’s never Cincinnati and I was curious.

Anyway, according to the 2010 census, the population of Cincinnati is about 44.8% black and 49.3% white. Although the data is about 8 years old, this showed, and I often found myself being the only Latino in the room. Because of this detail, the subject of race was in the back of my head. Nevertheless, the hospitality and reception of locals spoke volumes to me. And while race was often a subject of conversation, the tone was so much different there. The tone was so much different in real life.

The contrast between the warm and friendly interactions I had with these real-life strangers versus the tensions I see on social media every day got me thinking. Not only do we have our eyes constantly glued to our screens, but also biases are being built on people we’ve honestly never met.

I happened to be working on a Malcolm X concept to shoot the week after, so I tied the two ideas together along with some inspiration from Gil Scott-Heron, some trusty ILFORD HP5 PLUS, my Pentax 645 and Kodak XTOL developer.

These images are the result of that.

If Instagram shut down tomorrow, would your images still matter?
If Instagram shut down tomorrow, would you go out to make friends?
If the internet shut down tomorrow, would you have anything left to say?


Cheers from New York City,

~ Chris

P.S: The model’s name is Adrian Baidoo, he’s an actor and overall amazing person. The shoot took place in Harlem, a Manhattan neighborhood. Also, Kenya, if you’re reading this, thank you for making this stranger feel at home. Say hi to your friends for me.

Share your knowledge, story or project

The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.


More related reading

Month in review: August 2020

Month in review: August 2020

These are the 31 days and 34 articles that made EMULSIVE in August 2020. As usual, you’ll find a recap of all the articles published, ... Read more
Month in review: July 2020

Month in review: July 2020

These are the 31 days and 33 articles that made EMULSIVE in July 2020. As usual, you’ll find a recap of all the articles published, ... Read more
Previous

EMULSIVE x CineStill Film Community Interview: submit your questions

Photography: 1, 2, 3… – Shot on Fuji Velvia 50 RVP50 at EI 50 (120 format)

Next

I'm EM, founder, overlord and editor-in-chief here at EMULSIVE.org, as well as all-round benevolent gestalt entity. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an AI.

1 thought on “Photoset: Malcolm in Millennia – by Chris Mena”

Join the discussion

%d bloggers like this: