Emmanual Rosario, a flask of Bourbon and a pack of smokes

Features August 14, 2015

“Never let the fear of failure determine any of your decisions in life.”

Emmanuel Rosario is a 26 years old photographer from Harlem, New York. His photographs really push us to work harder to be on the road more often. His work is what we imagined Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ to look like. His photographs show his friends and him adventuring on the highways across America, drinking bourbon and smoking the night away. Curious about his lifestyle and his photography, we had a little chat with this talented rolling stone.

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Hi Emmanuel, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey, I am currently 26 years old and I am from Harlem, New York but currently living in Austin, Texas. I used to attend college for Nursing until I switched to Studio Art, which eventually led to me dropping out of college. I chose to drop out because I felt like I wasn’t able to express myself in school, wasn’t learning as much as I wanted. I took up a few assisting job with a several fashion photographers in New York and learned more technical work in one month than I did in a semester. Since I was a child I was never fond of school, I did not like attending school and being able to drop out of college felt great because I was doing what I love.

Your photographs prompt us to pack our bags and leave, how did you come to that decision yourself, what started your travel bug?
I was depressed, I wanted out, and I was sick of living in New York. Everyone wants to come to New York but when you grow up there and you are poor it is hard to see it how the outsiders do. I needed to experience more than just New York, I needed to experience the world and meet different people. When I was around 19 I embarked on my first trip with a friend to Guatemala since then I been hooked on seeing new things and discovering new places.

It looks like you are on the road a lot, we try to inspire people with the wish to leave to pack their bags and walk out the door. What kind of advice do you have for them? How do you manage to be on the road so often?
Challenge yourself to want more, put yourself in situations that you don’t want to and you will see the world comes alive again in front of your eyes. You will have several of those “it feels like I am in a movie” experiences. When you first start to travel and visit new places, places in which you don’t know anybody, it will be hard but with time your social skills will get better and allow you to interact and connect with more people. I do what ever I can to travel on the road at least for one month a year. I need to be out there driving and seeing new things. It usually requires me to leave whatever job I currently have and find another when I get back home. It is not the sanest thing to do but I definitely enjoy the uncertainty that life will bring me.

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How do you support yourself on the road?
Before I hit the road I try making sure I have money saved up, enough money for gas, food, alcohol, and cigs. Often I run out of money very quickly or underestimate how much money I would need on the trip. I would resort to stealing food and random things to sell along the way just to make it back home. There also has been a few times where a friend has had to bail me out and lend me money. I hate having to ask others for money but when push comes to shove we must do what we can to survive.

Who are your subjects and why do you point your camera at them?
My subjects are usually my friends and people I meet on the road. I am particular when it comes to photographing people. I need to feel connected with them before I can take a photo. If I don’t have the personal connection with the person, I generally don’t like the photograph. It is a strange thing but I like to capture the genuineness of a person. Sometimes it just takes 15 minutes of conversations and other times it takes a few days to getting to know the person.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I have always been fascinated by people’s lifestyles. It might stem from when I was kid since I grew up very isolated from others and I was not able to see much of how people lived.

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Why is photography your medium? What is so special about it? Have you ever tried other media to tell your stories?
Photography is a medium that visually stimulates the viewer with just one frame. Having the view wonder about what happened before and after the moment is what I love to evoke. Photography is a medium that I can do practically anywhere and with much ease, unlike other mediums, which require a lot more equipment than a simple point and shoot camera. I have dabbled with film but I am not yet confident enough to show anything I have produced. I need more time to understand the medium better and shape what I want to say in a manner that relates to my photographs.

Do you travel for your pictures or travel with your camera?
It is always about the experience! The camera is a mere tool which I use to capture those experience. I feel that some people forget that you need to be in the moment in order to capture the moment. I use to travel for my pictures but I noticed that there was sense of disconnect between the subject and the viewer. I don’t know how to explain it, but I knew there was something wrong. I then started to treat my photography secondary to my travels and just snap a few photos when it felt right. Eventually that feeling of disconnect faded away when I started to travel with my camera and not travel for the picture.

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When you travel, what gives you the most satisfaction?
Not knowing where we will sleep next and where we will wake up. While traveling on the road my friends and I refuse to take up motels, unless someone is sick and in need of adequate rest. We make it a point to sleep in random places and fully enjoy living on the road. A true road trip is not pampered by luxury.

Any exciting trips planned? Any projects?
My friends and I are in the talks of a winter road trip for next year. I am also excited to be working on my first solo Gallery in New York. (Waiting on more details from the Gallery)

What is your most memorable moment on the road? And what is your least favourite moment?
The most memorable moment was when we slept under an interstate in New Orleans. The weather was around 96˚s and the humidity was around 100% and it was four of us in a small car. Omar slept outside next to he car, Thibault slept on top of the car, and Theo and I slept inside the car. It was difficult to fall asleep since we had all of our cameras in the car and there were sketchy people constantly walking by looking at us. Not to mention the street corner across from us was full of hookers that would take turns picking up customers. I felt like I was in some strange movie, but that was the thrill! To see things of which you only read about. I can’t really say I have had a least favorite moment. I don’t mind challenges; I think they are part of the overall exuberant experience of the road.

When you’re traveling, what is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I light up a cigarette and walk a round for a few minutes exploring the location of where we slept and thinking of the next location.

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If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to a life of travel, what might it be?
“…because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn.” – Jack Kerouac.

How do you hope to grow as a photographer?
I really don’t know and to be honest, and I don’t want to know. I just want to keep photographing my travels, people I meet, and experience life in the present moment. For now I focus on the current moments and live without much expectations or goals.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, who would you take and why would you want to go there?
There so many places I want to visit, I can’t quite name one. But I would definitely know how I would take: Thibualt, Bishop, Theo, Lucas, Antony, Simon and Bobby. They are seven of the wildest craziest people I know and I would love to go anywhere with them!

What, besides a camera and some film will you always chuck in your backpack before leaving home?
A flask with my favorite Burbon, a pack of smokes, a multi-tool Knife, and a pack of playing cards.

Who should we interview next?
Vince Perraud

Any famous last words?
Never let the fear of failure determine any of your decisions in life.

Photographs by Emmanuel Rosario
Interview by Rebecca Rijsdijk

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