Brenda Moreno: On Photography, Workbooks & Horses
12 June 2015 . By Marita van Rooyen
There is a proverb that honours the mythical nature of the horse. It says that nobody ever becomes tired of watching it, as long as it presents itself in preciousness.
The horse has long been admired for its grace, power and pride. But not only does this creature instil respect and admiration in its human counterparts, it also offers a reflection of those who come into contact with it. Whether calm, peaceful and confident, or nervous and fearful, the horse responds to that which is presented to it. And so, by taking a closer look at the horse and its temperament, we are reminded of who we are and of that essential connection between all living beings.
Brenda Moreno started making photographs at the age of 13, when she first discovered an SLR camera belonging to her mother under her parents’ bed. At the very moment she took her first shot she fell in love with “the sound of pictures being taken” and her curiosity was ignited.
“For a long time photography was my refuge. I set up a darkroom on the roof of my house and spent many hours there. Perhaps one of the things that excited me was to see if the pictures I took matched the ones I had imagined.”
The connection to the imagination is a personal one and Moreno’s perception of photography has been similarly solitary. “We have an inner world with its own language that, throughout life, we try to identify and express. Sometimes when I see another person’s work I feel like I’m getting to know their inner world and I can see a reflection of who he or she is.” As the camera becomes a tool of truth for the one who holds it, so it offers a form of connection and understanding between the photographer, the subject and the world.
And so Moreno started documenting what she was doing and why she was doing it, as a means to question and understand. “I think things through and I meditate on them. After a while everything begins to emerge, in no particular order, but with their necessary analytical processes.”
With all her questions – and all the answers she found – photographic workbooks came about as a natural result of this process. “The only way to organise it all was by using notebooks”.
Moreno’s workbooks bear images that might normally have been discarded – pieced together and displayed on cheap printing materials – “because it helps get some of the formalities out of the way, and that allows me to create the collages just as they come to me.” As these workbooks take on a life of their own, they develop into “their own special project”, with every image its role to play.
“The end result is the tool to speak the language, unlocking the artist’s inner world and the ability to understand their world view. The relationship you establish with the person you photograph is very important. The time you spend on each picture and the connection between each picture is all part of the process. I use analogue equipment in medium format because rolls of film reflect how much thought goes into each picture and the awareness of how the material is used.”
One of the subjects that has always enjoyed a lot of thought, and still plays a key part in her work, is the noble horse. The expansion of the pair of horses that initially joined Moreno at the time of her birth (now a large and successful family stud) runs parallel to her personal growth and development as photographer.
With a notebook on the way completely dedicated to showcase aspects of its power and grace, Moreno says, “Perhaps by portraying horses, I’m actually portraying my family. For me it is important to stay connected to nature, but also to my family. Photography is the medium through which I connect to both.”
See more of Brenda Moreno’s work here: www.brendamoreno.com