Young Cuban actor and photographer May Reguera’s instant images display the emotion that her work as an actor brings her. She thinks as she picks up the camera, looking at the world through her lens and ultimately capturing a unique and unrepeatable moment, a reflection of her intellectual and spiritual evolution.
Aged only twenty-seven this passionate photographer with a sideline in acting has already developed a very particular style combining irreverent reality and elegant fantasy in her revealing work. CubaPlus talked with her about her life as a photographer.
What called you to photography?
I can’t pinpoint a particular moment. I think somehow the act of taking portraits and keeping the moments was something I always enjoyed. For many years on each birthday I got a roll of film for taking portraits.
When I finished my acting studies at the National Arts School I started doing portraits with an actor friend in my free time, then more friends started to join in. That’s how Telón (Curtain) was born, a series inspired by female characters from Greek mythology portrayed by actors. From that I developed a special fondness for photography as a medium for expressing thoughts and desires as a human being.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography was my salvation at a point when in my country it was becoming difficult to work as an actor but still I wanted to stay here and I had things to say. Photography for me has been a space where I can say what I want, how I feel, what I’m most interested in. It’s been my way of speaking, my tool for getting closer to people and telling them how special they are, showing them a reality that is more beautiful than they thought it was. And that makes me happy.
Does this connect to your work as an actor or interfere with it?
Sometimes it’s difficult to do both things, merely because often there just isn’t enough time. But I definitely think they are completely connected, one leads me to the other and they enrich each other mutually.
What do you feel when you take a photograph? Do you feel like the owner of the moment?
I feel like a creator, I feel alive and strong.
When I started taking photos, what I did most was documentary. And I loved the idea of getting to keep the moments, saving images of people I would never see again. Sometimes a picture makes a place seem more beautiful than it really is.
I don’t think I feel like the owner of anything. But when I take photos I am very happy.
Is there any special moment that has left its mark on you as a photographer?
Once I met a girl who hid behind her glasses with her head held down. I wanted to take some portraits of her, so we had several sessions together. She was a really beautiful girl and she didn’t know it, or she was afraid to be pretty because “if you’re pretty you can’t be intelligent, strong, independent or talented.” Recently we happened to be working together again on something else and she told me I had changed her life, that her outlook on everything had changed and she was no longer afraid of feeling beautiful. For me, what is special is standing in front of someone with a camera and looking inside that person, making that person laugh, bringing that person to life.
Everyone with a good camera thinks they are a photographer. What do you think about that?
Tech just intermediates between the image and the [photographer’s] artistic capability. I think whoever has a desire to express themselves, to see things with love, the people who don’t just see but look straight through to the soul--whoever does that can do whatever they want!
There are jobs that need certain equipment. But I don’t think it’s the most important thing, at least it’s not the only thing you need. You have to study a lot. And above all you need to try to be a better human being, so your portraits are not only picture perfect with great light and good framing but so they also have soul, desire and life.