Richard Koci Hernandez has been practicing street photography for decades, favoring low-tech media such as pin-hole cameras, Holgas, and, more recently, the iPhone to create mysterious images of the urban landscape and people on the move. His black and white work has a distinctly film noir flavor, evoking modernist photography of the 1930s, which often balanced formal compositions with gritty textures and human narratives. Using one of his signature motifs, Koci Hernandez likes to capture people in profile or silhouette, identifying them by the simple form of a hat, umbrella, or heels set in the anonymous cities, corridors, train stations, and airports of our global world. While the black and white images feel real, surreal, and timeless all at once, the color work (such as this one, shot on a trip to Vietnam in 2014), is more contemporary, glamorous, and cosmopolitan in tone. In an introduction to a 2013 book titled Downtown, published by Out of the Phone, Koci wrote: “I share with you my search for beauty in the mundane. With a slight tap on the screen in the here and now, I seek the truth that resonates beneath the surface of city life. The mystery of what the urban landscape might reveal keeps me coming back for more. The play of light on concrete, the slight tilt of the head, a glance, a kiss, the geometry of life! The psychological, emotional, and physical presence I experience when wandering downtown is addictive. Mixing with humanity, on the streets, capture device in hand, I am one, wholly and fully present.”
Richard Koci Hernandez’s work, combined with his career as a photojournalist, experimental filmmaker, and professor of new media at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, has earned Koci Hernandez an Emmy award, a TED Talk, and other accolades including publication and interviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. His iPhone photography has been exhibited in Canada, Spain, France, and Malaysia, among others, and has been published in numerous books. He lives in Oakland but travels the globe in search of powerful images and stories to tell. Limited edition prints of his photography are available exclusively from SLATE contemporary in Oakland.