• Elfrid

A walk on the beach with photographer Maximilian Estrada

“Since I became a father, I feel it even stronger. A social obligation to do something.”
Photographer Maximilian Estrada

These are the words of Chilean-Swedish photographer Maximilian Estrada. This summer, I was lucky to spend some time with Max and his beautiful family at the Italian seaside. In between play time in the water with the kids and lunches on the shore, we found some time for a walk on the beach to talk about Max’s photographic work. “I have a strong desire to tell stories”, Max says. “To use my photography to create awareness about an issue. Draw attention. There are so many people out there with the most incredible stories to tell. So many destinies, so much injustice. I want to find those people and make their experiences known to the world” “I really like the way you use your creative side to do something with purpose.”, I tell him. “In many ways, I think that must be the most important job of the artists’ around the world today; documenting the reality that they see around them.”

“I agree”, Max says, before he takes a short pause and continues: “To me, photography has always been this creative force, an inspiring element in my life that has really helped me, or pushed me to question life in general. Things like "what is important", "why can the world be so unfair", "Can I make a difference with my photography. I see it as a duty now that I have become a father. I want to be able to tell my son that I tried to do something.”

“The work that you did for the Bahini campaign was quite cool.”, I say. “Can you describe it? “Yes, so Bahini is a Swedish brand that sells scarves made by women who are survivors of sex-trafficking. Now these women have gotten a Fair Trade job and been given a new start in life. For each scarf Bahini sells, they give back to the community by sponsoring young survivors and girls at risk with educational scholarships. I was very happy when they asked me to do the photos for their campaign, and I really enjoyed working with them.”” “I can imagine it felt very meaningful to be involved with that”, I say and make a mental note to order this year’s Christmas presents from Bahini. A scarf that serves a good cause is the kind of gift I love to give. I look at Max. “You did a great job on that campaign!”, I tell him. “The pictures turned out really good. I especially like the colors. They are so beautiful! However, I am quite used to seeing you working with black and white though?” He smiles. “Yes. Like many others, I am in love with black and whites. It might have to do with my admiration for photographers such as Robert Capa, Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bression and Sebastiao Salgado. They are all true masters of black white photography, and inspire me a lot!”

Photograph from the Bahini campaign

"The Old Man and the Sea"

As he says that, I get a specific photograph in my mind: “I think that inspiration is very evident in one of my personal favorites of yours, Max. “The Old Man And The Sea”. Can you say a few words about this one?”, I ask him. “It was taken in Puerto Natales in Patagonia, Chile. I was there with my wife in 2012 and while walking around in the small city of Puerto Natales, we saw this old man working on his boat.”. Max takes a little break before he goes on. “I approached this man, Pedro Leiva was his name, and talked with him for a while. My idea was to take a photo of him while he was working on his boat. I took a few but this one with him standing up is the one I liked the most. I saw a proud man in the photo but also someone who perhaps have not had the easiest of life. I also saw a great deal of dignity, that no matter what, that he was proud of what he was doing and even though he was getting older and older, he still loved to work with his boat and to be by the sea.” We both look at the waves rolling in on the beach. “That photo touches me a lot”, I say. “Today so many of us live in big cities, and we spend our days inside an office looking at a screen. We are packed in a subway or a bus back and forth from work. Sometimes I just think we have distanced ourselves too far away from nature and where we came from. That man though is still working the sea as his ancestors before him. He is a part of a long tradition, and knows where his place is, where he belongs. You know… it is just something that makes you think.” I take a pause before I finish: “I really love it when art makes me reflect like that, so thank you” A shy smile appears on Max’s face. This guy is as modest and humble, as he is great at taking photos. I can therefore not expect him to scream out loud what an awesome photographer he is, but I know he is happy to see that his work is well received. We both turn silent for a while, thinking of the fisherman in Patagonia and the life that he leads. Then we turn our backs to the ocean and go back to our families at the beach. It is time to pack our things and go home. Elfrid Xx


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