If you've taken a look at the latest issue of the Harvard Photography Journal, sophomore Pacho Velez's striking black-and-white pictures must have caught your eye. Velez's photos make great use of shadows, reflections and faces partially blurred by light or hidden in darkness. Velez's photos also have an amazing sense of movement and always seem to belong to a particular moment.
Despite the high quality of his photos, photography is not Velez's main interest, as he is a Visual and Environmental Studies concentrator with an emphasis on film. Yet although Velez is primarily engaged in making films and not photographs (he took the photos printed in the HPJ over a year ago), he still "takes photos for fun" and draws as well. Velez's photos can also be found in the Harvard Advocate, Diversity and Distinction and the Harvard Book Review.
Velez became interested in photography during high school, when he took his first class. One of the art teachers encouraged him to explore his artistic talent, and, as the soft-spoken sophomore says, "I just enjoyed the class and had a really good time." Upon arriving at Harvard, Velez became immersed in film theory and video courses through the VES department, and is now primarily interested in making documentaries rather than fiction films. Velez says he really enjoyed the full-year introductory film class he recently completed, as the final assignment for the class was a group documentary. This year the class elected to make a film about the process of garbage collecting. Of the group documentary, Velez said that, despite the fact that during the final weeks of the course he was spending over 30 hours per week editing the project, it was "a really rewarding experience."
Velez plans to continue taking film classes, and is looking forward to spending the summer making a documentary about the experiences of multi-ethnic teenagers in New York City, Velez's hometown. This project is being funded by the Harvard College Research Program and will count for course credit for Velez. He will spend the summer shooting the film and the fall term editing it. Velez is mainly interested in documenting contemporary topics, although he is not entirely sure what topics he would like to pursue in the future, since "when you come up with a topic, you commit to it for six months." Velez also plans on doing a thesis, although he is not yet sure what about; as he says, "it's really hard to know what you are going into when you start a project. You have to case about for awhile." Next fall, along with editing his summer documentary, Velez will be working ("doing multimedia stuff") on a production of Agamemnon in the Agassiz Theater.