PHOTOS AND ART DIRECTION: MIGUEL FIGUEROA
STYLING: JAVIER SCALLEY
Miguel Figueroa is an editor and writer based in New York. He’s the Senior Editor of Candy, Fanzine137 and EY! Magateen. His articles have been featured in Apartamento, El País, Interview, Pin-Up, V, Vanity Fair Spain and many more. What many don’t know is that before becoming a full fledged writer, he was a budding photographer. Here Miguel shares one of his photo shoots with Ponytale…
I’ve been taking photographs since 1987. Santa Claus, aka, my aunt, got me my first Fisher Price camera when I was four. From then on it was camera, after camera… 35mm Canon’s, Konica’s and eventually my first digital Sony. I’m very clumsy so I went through cameras the same way I went through lovers all through my 20s: disposing of them faster than you could pose.
During my last year of college, curiosity led me to purchase my first Yashica T4. It was love at first snap. It was 2007 and I started taking pictures of my friends and they encouraged me to keep photographing because, well, the photos were turning out quite good. A couple of months later, I became so obsessed with taking pictures that I purchased a second Yashica. I’d always use one to shoot with flash, the other without and also make all sorts of film combinations. Tungsten film goes here, Portra went there. Unfortunately, during one of my trips to Paris I accidentally dropped the second Yashica in a fountain. I’m a pretty superstitious person and I swear it was a gypsy curse: I refused to give them any money and they proceeded to spit and said some mumbo jumbo. Minutes later my camera was in the bottom of a fountain near the French Filmothèque.
Five years ago, I decided to change the cookie cutter lifestyle that I had in San Juan, took a chance and sent a portfolio of my polaroids to an art direction program in Barcelona. I got in and became the teacher’s pet (as usual) while the rest of my classmates secretly stabbed pins in voodoo dolls with my name all over it. Surprisingly, Barcelona never really inspired me to take any sort of pictures… it kind of made me throw up a little every time I would see yet another “fashion editorial” shot in a rooftop. And I plead guilty, eventually I had to succumb. Puerto Rico continues to be and probably will forever be my main source of inspiration. The island is bursting with secret locations which I would re-discover each time I went back home. From Barcelona, I scouted models (friends), stylists (friends) and locations to shoot. I was very lucky, models always thanked me for taking them outside of their comfort zones: one time a model and I climbed one of the fences in an abandoned oil refinery to make the shoot happen. Others, like Yullie in these pictures, braved the “dangerous” Caribbean night to shoot in some random beach where the odds of running into a) a drug drop-off b) a murder scene or c) a turtle bearing its eggs were extremely high.
I spent three good years photographing non-stop. 90% of the time were women. I’m a woman loving gay man. There’s something about the female physique that I just find much, more aesthetically pleasing. Shooting guys is difficult for me, I get nervous, turn into the catholic school “girl” I once was. I have no problem with telling a girl “take it off.” While, if I say the same thing to a guy, I’ll have a raging erection. Three years ago, I “closed shop” to focus on my career as a writer. I was always criss-crossing between “photographer/writer” and decided to channel all my energies into just one. Unexpectedly, about a month ago I started taking pictures again. This time, it was a guy.