Most photographers seek perfection, the right light, the beauty, the pain. But for Yvonne Venegas, the goal is to capture something else: "I like to photograph the things that come between the perfect moment and the mistake," she says.
It is an idea wrapped up in image, in class, in celebrity and many of these moments can be found in Venegas' first Mexico City museum show at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil.
The show, Nunca Será Más Joven Que Este Día (or You'll Never Be Younger Than This Day,) is named after a sign that hangs in her father's photography studio in Tijuana. "Originally we were going to show two series," she says. But as one of the curators started going through her archives, the idea grew to include six series from her earliest days in Tijuana to her present work-in-progress here in Mexico City.
Of course, if her name and face seem familiar to you, it's because Yvonne's twin sister is Mexican superstar musician, Julieta Venegas. "My first photographs were of her," she says. "Our dream was to do well in whatever we chose to do. We decided it was going to be photography and music."
In addition to her show at the museum, Yvonne is also directing Julieta's latest video and just celebrated the publishing of a new photography book, Inédito (or Unpublished), which developed out of a project she did back in 2004, when Televisa, the giant Mexican television network, invited Yvonne to document the making of a new telenovela, Rebelde. The show's plot revolved around teenagers at an elite private high school who were also members of a pop band. The band, RBD, went on to be even more famous off the small screen with arena tours and devoted fans who would come to shows dressed in private school uniforms.
Familiar with the consequences of that kind of fame, Yvonne followed their meteoritic rise capturing unseen, authentic moments with the cast and individual stars like Anahí. When Televisa decided not to publish the photographs themselves, Yvonne took to Kickstarter and eventually found a publisher in RM, a Spanish/Mexican publishing company that also published another book of her photographs, Maria Elvia de Hank, a series on the wife and family of eccentric Tijuana millionaire/politician, Jorge Hank Rhon.
She say her work tends to focus on the middle or upper classes mostly because her interest is in the relationship between the image people want to project and the small, unscripted moments she can capture in between their thought out poses. "Something you could consider a mistake," she says. For instance, a wedding photograph of a bride will not only include the beautifully dressed and made up bride, but the wedding photographer (in some cases, her father, a well respected Tijuana wedding photographer) fluffing out a her dress in front of an obviously fake backdrop.
Her newest project, which is presented as a work-in-progress at the Carrillo Gil exhibit, takes her portraiture to a new level by veering away from people she knows or clients with expectations and by taking her time to capture the moments she's looking for. "I feel like some of my projects have been painful, other ones have been pure intrigue, and now I feel at peace, I feel quite happy with my life."