I MET ASHLEY BARNES AND JACINTA YOUNG at a recent Matador Meetup in Buenos Aires. Jacinta, an Australian-born writer and photographer, and Ashley, an American, told me a little bit about their company Somos 2, (“We are two.”) , and after checking out more of their work, I wanted to find out more about their story.
[DM] When did y’all meet? What was the vision behind S2 and how has it evolved into a business?
[Ashley and Jacinta]. We crossed paths through a mutual friend around August of 2010. What started as a gathering of girls and cocktails, developed into those connected conversations of travel, why we do it, our love for photography and our determination to reach many people with our work.
Jacinta put down her travel bags and lived in an apartment that was also a Queer Tango School which led to an immediate friendship with the Owner/Tango Professor Mariano. As a gay man here in Buenos Aires, Jacinta witnessed Mariano and his friends passionately fighting for equal rights. Seeing this movement of support and solidarity within the community, made her realize that there was an area where she could not only fulfill her love for photography, but also work alongside a community of people where she feels connection, inspiration, and admiration.
From there, it just seemed natural. The idea was firmly planted in her head and was bantered about one night over a glass of wine with Ashley, who then left for the US to visit her family, and continued to think of Jacinta’s vision and about where this could go. Upon return from her travels, Jacinta’s ideas were bubbling over and with Ashley super keen to jump in for the ride – somoS2 was born.
Full of energy, momentum and constant growth, (and lots of crazy ideas yet to be realised) S2 has taken a leap from an idea to a realized vision and is continuing to expand – organically as we like to say. As with any business there are constant challenges. One of the reoccurring ones is the reaction of curiosity, admiration, bewilderment or cynicism when they realize we are actually two heterosexual girls. Our reasons for doing what we do are simple. We are ardent photographers and artists who wish to work, define and develop a unique, honest and recognizable style with an amazingly fun, interesting and inspiring community.
Hearing a speech by a recently married lesbian woman, telling a story about how she felt integrated into the school where she teaches by the simple gesture of a bunch of flowers and a message saying somos iguales, resonated with shivers down our spine. This is what we believe. Somos iguales. We are equal. We are all equal and we want to help make these simple words a reality.
Weddings, events and social documentation, this non-stop journey is not contained to Buenos Aires but throughout Argentina and oh yes…the world. With an ever expanding number of local affiliates to the rapidly evolving legalization of gay marriage and growing acceptance of the LGBT community, we are determined to make our style not only known and loved, but also to help solidify equality and to give a voice to those who want to and should be heard.
You mentioned taking S2 to the “social documentary” level. What does that mean exactly?
As photographers, we want to document peoples stories primarily through our photography but also through writing, video and other social media. We want to apply our creativity to their voice. Our goal is to give a new direction to something that has always been thought of as traditional, such as weddings – breaking those barriers and developing a new path – much like what is happening in the LGBT community. This social documentation and creating awareness about this community, will help to encourage acceptance and equality.
How does the travel “scene” for gay couples differ from your home countries? How is it evolving here in Argentina?
We believe it is an exciting time for the “scene” here. Buenos Aires has been la moda for a while and is becoming known more and more as a fabulous gay scene. Adding to this the aspect of equality and same-sex marriage being legalized, has made it even more attractive to the gay community. There is a difference here in the sense that it seems the culture is still adjusting to this new law and the fresh market that is being built around it. We are affiliated with Pink Point Buenos Aires who are a dedicated gay travel agency. Their ideas and passion to grow and develop this market, is attracting businesses and people from around the globe. There are a great deal of similarities with the gay travel scene here but on a much smaller scale. The really exciting part is to know that there is a lot more to come.
We are Canon girls. For digital processing we use Lightroom and Photoshop.
What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?
Believe in yourself and your vision. Stay true to your style and creativity. Be bold and brave and honest.
Learn your craft but combine it with your own knowledge and instinct. Learn the rules of photography, then bend them a little. Even if you’re straight…you can do it ;).