La Casa Azul Bookstore: Culture and Community

Going for an event that happened before my cameras went on, that was my biggest problem. La Casa Azul Bookstore owned and founded by Aurora Anaya Cerda offers a variety of stories, however, it was its participation as donation host for the Harlem-explosion victims that originally caught my attention. As we already know, I got there when it was too late, no donations, no hosting. Luckily this place possess other highlights that allowed me to transform the story and make the best out of my resources and rookie skills.

Lights…light it’s still a huge obstacle in my photography, if we can call it that. Great moments got ruined because of blurry results. I have practiced and messed around with my ISO, aperture, you name it, but it’s simply not going well. I guess more creativity and practice is necessary, and we can definitively consider a professional light equipment, but times are too harsh for that.

Authorization. From the beginning the owner of the bookstore, Cerda, asked not to take pictures of her customers. I agreed to that rule, then broke it, as you can see in the pictures. For that reason, I spent half an hour feeding emptiness to my camera. Later I politely asked customers for permission. Fortunately, most agreed and share their moments with you.

Shooting in dangerous places can be dangerous. Really? Allow me to share the moment when I almost got beat up while doing homework.

Wait, is that a no-teeth, three-feet-taller-than-I, angry Harlem woman with a bottle in her hand approaching me? Yes. Unfortunately, the bookstore is in an very interesting area of Harlem. As I was taking pictures of one of the stores that collaborated with the bookstore during the donations, a woman, apparently on drugs, accused me of taking pictures of her…she was inside the store. She had an ash cross on her forehead… I looked at it all the time praying for mercy. If it wasn’t because my husband was on the other side of the street, that bottled would’ve ended on my fragile head. So, I learned my lesson, cameras can capture the best and worst of people.


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