I've spent most of my life making pictures and have managed to preserve most of that work despite moving around quite a bit, I've been lucky. I emigrated to Los Angeles from Lima, Peru in 1962 when I was ten years old with my parents who were looking for a new start. Their relationship, always on the rocks, didn't work out for them and they eventually separated. My dad returned to Peru and stayed in the same house in the back of a shop, until he died in 2014. His health was always frail, having suffered from tuberculosis as a kid, and he was very proud of having made it to celebrate his 80th birthday, but he died shortly after that.
I went from a very strict Catholic school in Lima to a public school in LA where I didn't speak a word of English. I learned by watching television and my accent, which is somewhat all over the place, tends to reflect that. My father was an amateur photographer and he set up a darkroom in the bathroom of a two bedroom apartment my parents and I shared in Gardena. This was then a tough, decent, but rigidly conservative neighborhood that was then undergoing a massive change from a Japanese enclave to an influx of African-American, Mexican and Latin American immigrants - the change was quite violent in every sense. Still, trade and manufacturing jobs were still available, which made things easier, but that was soon to change.
Gardena High School was then a vocational technical school, or Vo-Tech school as they were called, but they didn't have anything remotely like photography - only electrical shop and refrigerator repair among other trades. Strangely they had classes in agriculture and farming which I thought was quite odd - perhaps a leftover from the depression. I majored in cars as I liked them and was very much intrigued by car culture but fortunately it didn't last long. I got odd jobs when I was in my 20's and took pictures and read a great deal. I didn't care for school and dropped out of several programs at various Colleges and Universities but decided to educate myself in the process. I became obsessed with European literature, especially the early modernists, who are still my favorites. Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was my favorite book. I loved Celine, Woolf, Borges and, for some reason, the poet Catullus. I also became a cinefile going to films about 3 or 4 times a week. At the New Vagabond Theater in LA I became familiar with the British Kitchen Sink films, Italian neorealism and the French New Wave which I took to immediately.
I moved to New York City in May of 1979 and stayed through 1984 - it was a great learning experience - probably the most intense of my life. I took very few pictures then as I was just trying to survive. Eventually I got a job at the Strand Bookstore where I learned the book trade. It was a difficult job in many ways but being surrounded by books made up for it. I had my own apartment on Delancey Street near the Williamsburg Bridge and a "real job" and thought I was set for life. Things were looking up. I would get by on pizza slices, mac and cheese and canned soup. When the neighborhood started changing in the early 1980's it all came apart and New York was done for - the money people were raping the place and remaking it in their own image of the golden city they were determined to see - and if one wanted no part of that it was a good time to leave.
In 1984 I moved to Pasadena California and attended the Art Center College where I got an MFA and started to write articles about photography and film for magazines. I lived in the Old Town section of Pasadena that was then full of thrift shops and abandoned buildings. I got a full time job with a pension in the library at the same college buying books for them which was, as I liked to call it then, "the greatest job of all time." I still think it was. I had been making art throughout this time, some of which you can see on this site.
When I arrived in the USA in 1962 I was ten years old and by the end of the sixties I was twenty which means that my most formative growing years coincided with that decade and it is undoubtedly the period that has had the most profound effect on me in ways I can't even articulate - but my photography and films speak for me - and they do it so much better, that I will end it here.