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Inwood Photographer to Turn Lens on Mexico in Monthlong Photo Residency

By Nigel Chiwaya | February 26, 2014 4:41pm
  Emmanuel "Dj Boy" Abreu will spend the month of May in Mexico as part of a month-long artist program.
Artist Residency Lets Inwood Photographer Turn Camera on Mexico
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INWOOD — Three years ago Emmanuel Abreu immortalized summer in Washington Heights with his pictures. Now, the uptown photographer and filmmaker is getting the chance to do the same thing in Mexico.

Abreu, better known by his artist name Dj Boyhas been selected to participate in the 360 Xochi Quetzal artist residency in Chapala, Mexico, where the shutterbug will spend the month of May traveling around the area with his camera.

"I want to explore as much of the community and capture as much of their needs as possible," said Abreu, 30, who will be traveling with fellow uptown photographer Alex Vega.

A self-taught lensman, Abreu has been shooting scenes uptown since 2009, wowing locals with vivid scenes. His 2011 "Summer in the Heights" film was one such example, as Abreu caught the attention of neighbors with his dramatic depiction of uptowners cooling off during a heat wave.

The Inwood resident has continued to draw rave reviews since then, and even graduated to filming promotional videos for the likes of the United Palace and the Morris-Jumel Mansion.

"I think he's amazing. He looks at things with a different eye. Especially when you see landmarks, there’s always an interesting spin. It always feels very personal," said Morris-Jumel director Carol Ward.

"He has a keen eye for representing the community in film and working with his subjects to put them at ease so he gets the relaxed, unaware shot," added UPCA program director Mike Fitelson. "His shoot-from-the-hip approach to photography, videography and community building has been a huge asset to the ongoing coming together of Northern Manhattan." 

The residency is free, but Abreu still needs to raise money to travel to Mexico. He and Vega plan to launch Indiegogo campaigns in March, they said.

The trip marks a maturation point for Abreu, who is retiring the Dj Boy name and renaming his studio "E.Abreu Photography." When he returns, he hopes to turn his work into a documentary series.

"This is definitely a stamp of approval from the art world," Abreu said. "The momentum is building up as far as where I want to take this."