ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three bodies of water from different parts of the world connected through the lenses of three photographers is the focus of “The River, The Ocean, The Sea.”
The exhibition showcasing 90 photographs is a collaboration among photographers Nick Tauro Jr. of Albuquerque, Fábio Miguel Roque of Portugal, and Hean Kuan Ong of Malaysia. The three are members of a photo collective made up of people from around the world.
“I think it was actually Fábio’s idea to collaborate on a project, and … since all three of us were living near a source of water, that would be the focal point of the project,” Tauro said. “Obviously, I focused on the Rio Grande. Fábio focused on the Atlantic Ocean, and Hean Kuan lives in Penang, which is on the Andaman Sea.”
The photographers agreed to shoot in black-and-white in a square format. But there were more commonalities in the photographs than just the style and format.
“What was striking to me is the similarities – even though they’re very different environments, you do see similarities,” Tauro said. “Part of it is how we approached it, the fact that stylistically we have a very similar aesthetic.”
The photographs enlightened Tauro, Roque and Ong to one another’s environments.
“What I found really striking also was that, especially in Hean Kuan’s photos in Malaysia, that’s a very developed area,” Tauro said. “His photos are the ones where there’s a presence of buildings and boats and there’s more people in his photos than in either of Fábio’s or myself. But what they also reacted to, they had no real idea, they thought New Mexico is a desert and that there was absolutely no water here, and when they saw my photos and saw how vibrant that environment really is and that it’s really quite diverse. There’s an expectation of what that area is going to look like, whereas if you have the impression that New Mexico is a desert yet you can walk into this thicket of trees and then be at the riverside and have a pretty varied range of flora and fauna growing there, I think for them that was surprising.”
Initially, the project was intended to be a photo book, but that changed when the Open Space Visitor Center accepted Tauro’s proposal and extended an invitation for the exhibit. The photo book is now an accompaniment to the exhibition.
“This project has been in the works over two years,” Tauro said. “We gave each other enough time that we felt like we thoroughly photographed where we were shooting. And then the opportunity for the exhibit, that also entailed a lot more work because we needed to get everything printed and framed and there’s 90 photographs in the show. It is a huge amount of work so from start to finish it was a little over two years. The exhibit took on a life of its own as far as how we were planning on showing the work. It’s quite different. It’s represented quite differently in the gallery as compared to how it’s laid out in the book.”