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"People of Wynwood" Photographer Catalina Ayubi on Finding Inspiration at LAB Miami

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Miami-raised Catalina Ayubi has been shooting photos since she was a kid. Her father gave her a Pentax 35mm camera when she was a child, and she has been aiming to capture the "true character" of locals through her lens ever since. Ayubi also provides creative and unconventional images of weddings, births, and more, through her studio, Catalina Ayubi Photography.

She's also the first member and resident photographer of LAB Miami, which today will host "People of Wynwood," a photo project based on Ayubi's Tumblr page. Ayubi has documented the area's characters in black and white portraits, "from the corporate lawyer to the street artist; from the man who washes the cars to the up and coming tech star." The event is interactive -- expect to have your photo taken.

Ayubi spoke with us about her project and being part of LAB Miami.

Cultist: How did you become involved, and what is your role with LAB Miami?

Catalina Ayubi: Wifredo [Fernandez] and Danny [Lafuente] came to me and presented to me the concept they had for the LAB and asked if I wanted to be part of it. Because I was working at home alone, I realized that I would be far more efficient if I worked in an environment such as the LAB's. Being part of the LAB has helped me out tenfold; being able to collaborate and work with people around me is very helpful to my business and allows me to thrive both professionally and socially.

I am currently the resident photographer at the LAB as well as a host, which basically means that I'll be available if they need me for anything. I was also their first member.

Where did the inspiration for "People of Wynwood" come from?

"People of Wynwood" came from a project that I was assigned when I was in college. The project was called "36 faces" and it consisted of me going out and taking pictures of people with a whole roll of 35mm film which contains 36 frames. For "People of Wynwood," not only did I want to create beautifully executed portraits, I also wanted to capture the diversity of the people that inhabit this neighborhood, from the man washing cars in the corner, to the artist in his or her gallery, to the entrepreneur at the LAB, and so on and so forth. Working in Wynwood has been such an enriching experience that it motivated me to create this project in order to give back to the community.

What are you hoping to capture of subjects when you look through the lens?

An honest portrait that depicts who the subject really is. I'm interested in digging deeper than just conveying the surface through an aesthetic; I'm interested in personality, I'm interested in background, I'm interested in life experiences above all, and this is actually where the random fact about themselves comes in very handy as well. Basically, I want to create portraits that communicate to the viewer who this person is, or in other words, their true character.

Can you describe the aesthetic you're going for in the photos?

I wanted to apply the concept of classic portraiture to my subjects. The photographer Richard Avedon and the simplicity of his photographic technique has always inspired me; particularly, how he was able to capture the character of each individual subject that he photographed.

In regards to why I decided to work in black and white, it has to do with keeping the focus of the project. One of the main characteristics of Wynwood is the fact that every wall in the neighborhood is covered with art. This is one of the main reasons why it has become one of the most exciting up and coming neighborhoods in Miami. However, if I had allowed for my images to be in color, the intent behind the project would have deviated from the subjects themselves to the art on the walls.

Tell us a bit about your relationship with Wynwood. Do you hang there, work there, socialize? How do you feel about the neighborhood and the changes it is going through?

I love this neighborhood. Although I don't live in Wynwood, I certainly do spend way too much time here and am currently planning to move somewhere closer. Wynwood is such a great place to socialize, especially considering you have a bunch of great places to eat, drink, or just hang out. I also take pleasure in seeing how diverse the community is; you get to meet and collaborate with so many different types of people and they're all very passionate about what they do; it's contagious.

I think that it is positive to the neighborhood to go through these changes; this neighborhood used to be desolate and very dangerous not so long ago. Now, it's becoming a prominent location for small businesses and nightlife, considering that not only has it turned into a major local art and tech hub in Miami, but it is also being recognized as one of the world's most stylish neighborhoods - this is good for business people. However, it is becoming rather unaffordable to the people who originally built this community and can potentially drive away the artists and creatives that have been working here for a long time.

Get shot at the "People of Wynwood" event taking place at LAB Miami today from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Visit thelabmiami.com.

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