Music Articles

Photographing Rock En Espanol

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, NPR Producer Felix Contreras is curating a short series featuring Latino themes. Contreras is also the co-host of NPR's new program, Alt.Latino, and this week the focus is on the new sounds coming from Latino musicians. Today's spotlight is on Catalina Kulczar-Marin, music photographer and Venezuelan immigrant. Her work includes many of the big names in Latin Alternative and includes a vibrant shot of singer/songwriter Gustavo Cerati, who suffered a stroke in May of this year and is lying in a Buenos Aires hospital.

When Catalina Kulczar-Marin was growing up in Venezuela, she was obsessed with a band called Hombres G. "I remember singing and dancing to ... 'Devuelveme a mi chica (sufre mamon),' " she says. "Everyone growing up in the '80s in Latin America knew that song. It was HUGE."

Fast-forward to about 2002. Kulczar-Marin found herself in a surreal situation: Not only because Hombres G were playing in the improbable location of Charlotte, N.C., but also because she was the concert photographer. It was something of a turning point for Kulczar-Marin — who claims that her photography career "all started with a boy in high school," abandoned physics classes and a darkroom.

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Kulczar-Marin immigrated to Florida when she was 11 and later settled with her family in Charlotte, N.C. There she met musician Juan Miguel Marin, now her husband. "His band, La Rua," she says, "was one of the first [of the genre] in the region." Nearly a decade later, the Latin music scene has exploded in North Carolina, as has Kulczar-Marin's portfolio.

Curious about this up-and-coming Latin music community, NPR's Felix Contreras traveled to Charlotte in 2008 for the NPR series Local Music Scenes, where he met Kulczar-Marin. "Her photos," he says,"reflect a familiarity not just of the music but of also a musician's sensibilities: She seems to know just when to be at just the right spot to get just the right image of the emotion of the moment."

Kulczar-Marin's intimacy with a niche music scene has resulted in a portfolio with few rivals. See more on her website — or in her new project, Let Love Reign, a photography project for marriage equality.



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