Catalina María O'Reilly Wears PantsSunday, September 30, 2018
My nephew Georgito (Jorge José) O’Reilly and I met sometime when it was my 8th birthday (he was 6). He was very blonde and not a good boy as not only in that birthday party but in others he broke my new toys. His mother, Inez (Inesita Barber O’Reilly Kuker was my first cousin and godmother. She was about 12 years older than I was. Because her mother Inez Barber loved my mother she was disappointed to not be able to be my godmother. She was divorced (Mr. Barber) and had married a man from Mendoza called Alejandro Ariosa. So her daughter became my godmother by default.
Both Georgito and I had the same godfather, the Mendoza man. I was named Alejandro (first name Jorge) because of him.
With Georgito I have had a very close relationship through the years. In 1967 when I left Buenos Aires to return to my then home in Veracruz, Mexico he and his soon-to-be wife Bebi sent me off a the docks and I boarded my Argentine Merchant Marine (ELMA) ship the Rio Aguapey. Since then Georgito has made it his job to always pick me up and deliver me to the Buenos Aires airport of Ministro Pistarini.
I must say that beyond appreciating and liking this man I love him.
His son Jorge (Georgito has four other sons) has five daughters and one son. Every year (or other year) when I return to Buenos Aires with my Rosemary I see them grow. One I had not noticed until 2017. She is Catalina María O’Reilly. She is 21 close to the age of my older granddaughter Rebecca who is also 21. Thus I have adopted her as my “nieta postiza”.I don't think I offended her when I told her she had been a duck turned swan.
And that is for several reasons. She is beyond lovely and she has something that my Rebecca also has. It is an indefinable quality that I call presence.
She has many other talents. For one she sings a soprano like a very young angel (before this male angel of my imagination grows up and loses that voice). For another she not only speaks Spanish to a literary perfection she writes it, too. Her inquietud (a word that really has no translation into English) has her going to Germany to learn German and studying the history of art at the university in Buenos Aires.
But there is another quality in María Catalina (that sounds better to me than her real name). This is a concern and love for the past in her family and a special love for her great grandmother (my first cousin and godmother Inesita whom she calls La Nona) which led her to accept my request to photograph her.
She wanted me to go to her Recoleta neighbourhood apartment where she lives with her older sister Mili (Milagros). The reason is that she had requested Inesita’s clothes chest when she died a couple of years ago. For the portrait you see here she is wearing a pair of her Nona’s slacks.
When I photographed her, after Rosemary and I were offered an Earl Gray tea and facturas (argentine for bakery delights) I brought a chair (her apartment is sparsely furnished) for her to sit. She indicated to me that it was an ugly chair. I begged to differ as I think that the shape of the chair’s back adds to the photograph.
After taking pictures of her with her hair down I asked her if she could pull it back and perhaps use gomina (greasy Argentine kid stuff) like her grandfather Georgito has used since I can remember. She declined but did tie it back.
The portrait to me is striking. I know this. And if I did not, I should have been a plumber instead of a photographer a long time ago. I would be far richer now.
The overall look of the picture is due to an error of exposure that I discovered a few months ago which is now part of technique palette. The light source is the modeling light or quartz light of my flash. I then set my camera (a Fuji X-E3) to 1/60 03 1/30 of a second deciding on the shutter that will allow some existing light. I then set the lens to the magical (and up to now unknown to me) f-7.1. The result is a big black rectangle. With careful levels use in Photoshop what you get is what you see here. The ISO rating was at 200.
Presence in spades