“I Just Want Everyone To Look Into Their Eyes And See Their Souls” by Derek Shanks

D:  Derek  P: Pachi

Derek’s Introduction

As a street photographer, I can easily relate to the sensitivity of the stories I capture and appreciate that the people I capture have names and have experienced amazing things in life. Most importantly, there is more to them than just the moment I capture. Aside from the highlight of capturing those important and meaningful photographs, there is an emotional attachment that comes with capturing people, especially those who have fallen on hard times.

I was given the opportunity to interview Pachi Tamer and excitedly chose him. He will be recognized as the emotional and heart stirring photographer known as Cachafaz on Instagram. It is a privilege and honour to interview Mr. Tamer.

Pachi, Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. We are really looking forward to learning more about the photographer and the people behind the soulful photographs that make up your portfolio.

D:  Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is the real Pachi Tamer?

P:  Thank you so much Derek for interviewing me and for such nice compliments. I’m from a little city called Pergamino, which is 3 hours away from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I work as Associate Creative Director at LatinWorks, an advertising agency based in Austin, Texas. Even though my background is in copywriting, photography was always one of my passions. I’m just a regular guy with a powerful weapon: an iPhone.

D:  Your images have a consistent quality and style, are your images all iPhone captured and edited? What are your favourite applications to work with?

P:  Thank you so much. All my portraits of homeless people are captured and edited with my iPhone 4. If you go far back on my feed you’ll find some pictures taken with a Hasselblad 500 C/M from the 80’s.  I have 60 photography apps in my iPhone. Some of my preferred apps are: Qbro, Snapseed, Picfx, Phototoaster, Photoforge 2, Photogene 2, Filterstorm, Noir, Ps Express, Luminance, Camera+ and of course, Instagram. I’m always looking for new apps though, and I don’t mind spending a dollar or two to try them out. When I change locations, I also change the filter combination of my pictures, trying always to maintain a consistent style. Many people ask me exactly what apps I use for each series. Before every trip, I spend days looking for different combinations, saving them, and writing down the formulas, until I find a winner. It’s what makes my personal style my own. And you know what? I have a lot of fun doing it. I think everyone should do it. It’s what’s going to differentiate your work from mine. It’s what’s going to make you feel proud of it.

D:  Do you have a background in community service or social services that prepared you for approaching the people you capture?

P:  I went to high school at “Hermanos Maristas,” a Catholic private school in Pergamino. We used to go to very poor neighborhoods with our teachers to help people. We even built a school for them once. And also I learned to help people from my parents. My father was a doctor and he used to take care of people in need for free. My mom is a psychiatrist and at 72 years old she’s still helping people with their problems.

D:  Can you describe the moment and remember the feeling from the first portrait you captured?

P:  It’s actually my 9th portrait the one I always remember. I’m looking at it on my iPhone right now, and it’s by far one of my favorite portraits. I was coming back to my office from lunch with a friend when I saw this guy walk by. I’d seen him several times before, and he always caught my attention, especially because he’s he’s always by himself. A nice, smart looking guy; always dressed with the same dirty jacket, even at a 100ºF Texan temperature. So I went after him. “Excuse me sir, can I take a picture of you for a dollar?” “Yes, why not? Like a Founding Father,”  he said. And he posed for me with a tall stance and looking far and beyond. I met a national hero that day, and that was a great feeling.

D:  Which photo changed your direction in photography and your intended goal in having us look into their eyes?

P:  That was my 18th portrait. He’s the oldest guy I’ve ever seen on the streets. He was sitting on the floor outside “The Arch”, a famous homeless shelter in downtown Austin. I sat next to him, said hi and asked him if I could take his picture. Then I realized he was completely blind. “I can’t see,” he said. How lucky am I for being able to see, I thought. And even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I was able to look into them. This old man showed me his soul, and I have no doubt he was a Saint. I would like everyone to see into his closed eyes. But in order to do it we need to open ours first. That’s what I intent to do with my pictures—Open people’s eyes.

D:  Do you have a ritual routine to condition yourself before going out in search of your portrait candidates?

P:  No, I just go out and take pictures. My kit: Coffee, cigarettes, my iPhone and lots of one-dollar bills.

D:  After shooting and achieving your captures, how do you handle the emotional impact of being there to experience their plight and hear their stories?

P:  It’s pretty hard to be there, and it’s also hard to see their pictures later. After a shooting day I get pretty tired, physically and emotionally. But I believe sadness is a feeling we should enjoy. And that’s what I try to do. And I feel much better when I think about what I’m doing for them. For me saving one, is saving them all. Also watching my almost 3-year-old daughter Elena, and thinking that by doing this I’m leaving her a great gift, it helps me a lot. Because I’m doing this for her, too.

D:  There is obviously an admirable sense of trust from the people you capture in order for you to get so close and personal with them. How do you approach the people you photograph and have them participate?

P:  I approach them with respect. I shake their hands. I seat on the street besides them. I share a cigarette with them. I ask them how they’re doing. Then I explain my project and sometimes show them a couple of other pictures. I listen to them. They trust me because I trust them.

D:  While some subjects have very hard lives, I know many of my captures to have a sense of humor and light-hearted outlook on their situation. Can you tell us about a funny or warm-hearted moment that you have experienced?

P:  I went out for coffee and saw this guy walking by, a strong-looking African-American guy. I took a picture of him, and when I asked his name he said: “Amos, if you can’t remember think of someone famous.” Every time I see Justin Bieber, I remember Amos.

D:  For anyone starting out in street photography and capturing emotionally charged portraits, what advice can you offer?

P:  Don’t be afraid. Go for it. Your worst enemy is yourself. You’ll get better with time. And you have nothing to lose and lots to gain. Much more than a picture, you can win an interesting conversation, a good experience or even a friend. Next weekend I’m planning to be homeless in LA for 2 days. From Friday to Sunday. It’s going to be a great experience having no place to sleep and take a shower. I’ll be sharing everything live through Instagram with you guys. I’m hoping to take some good pictures. Am I afraid? Maybe. I just don’t think about it.

D:  After capturing so many people in your time, it has motivated your One Dollar Dream campaign. Can you tell us about your dream and how we can help?

P:  Sure, I’ll be glad to. One day I took a picture of a guy named Jim. After taking the portrait we chatted for a while. He told me he was from German descent, and before he left, he said: “You know what? There’s only one thing I wanna do before I die: Oktoberfest.” And I thought, such a simple dream, how nice would it be to make it happen. And… Wait a minute… If all the followers I have on Instagram donate one dollar, I can take this guy to Germany! And that’s how it started. The good ideas grow by themselves, and that’s what’s happening with One Dollar Dreams. Now besides Jim, we have Alex in Rehab in Medellín, Colombia, and Bob, a guy that deserves a bike for all the people who laugh at his face. I’m creating a non-profit organization and the site is up and running at www.one-dollar-dreams.com. One dollar. What they usually ask for. What people usually give them. Here, it’s a dream come true.

Pachi Tamer

We Are Juxt features visual artists and mobile enthusiasts, their love for the arts, and some of their sample works. If you’re interested about the craft of mobile art photography or you’re just into art in general, you know where to go!


About Derek S.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Derek showed an early interest in the visual arts, a fascination that would continue to this day. But it wasn’t until 2000, when Derek moved to Canada’s east coast, that he found a true passion with photography. The moody, spectacular landscapes of the Maritimes inspired Derek to experiment with monochrome images, and in 2007 he dedicated his photography to Black and White. Returning to Toronto, Derek created an online homage to Black and White imagery, the growing blog and Instagram feed Fragile Glass. His passion for photojournalism and street photography can now be viewed through both traditional camera’s and most recently his iPhone.

Instagram: @fragileglass