Maximiliano Hernandez-Zapata ’19 is only 22 but he’s old-school when it comes to photography. His passion for analog photography has paid off for him as the recipient of the College’s Bristol Fellowship for his project “Preservation or Revival: Exploring Contemporary Analog Photography.”                                                                                                                 

max Hernanadez-zapata
Maximiliano Hernandez-Zapata ’19
Photo: Jerry Tang ’21

The Bristol Fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest. Hernandez-Zapata, one of two Bristol recipients this year, will receive a $30,000 award. 

Read what Hernandez-Zapata says about his project and take a look at his analog images.

Why study analog photography in this digital age?

From the first Daguerreotype images to the startup filmstocks of the twenty-first century, analog photography has survived the transition to a digital world. I propose to explore analog photography in the twenty-first century. Just as oil painting didn't dissolve after the invention of acrylic paint, I am eager to explore how the analog process coexists with our world of digital imagery. I will explore why analog photography, a technology outmoded by the digital world and inefficient by comparison, is currently being defended and revived.

I'm interested in doing this research because film photography has been an integral part of my life since I was 14-years-old. Now at 22, I want to look at how different generations use analog processes, as I see a distinct 'purism' in the way older generations use film, and more of an 'experimental' dynamic with younger generations.

Where will you be traveling for your project?                                      
About Maximiliano Hernandez-Zapata ’19

Majors: History and Studio Art

Hometown:  Alhambra, Calif.

High school: Flintridge Preparatory School

read about other student fellowship recipients

Germany, Finland, Spain, Japan, Indonesia.

What intrigues you about analog photography?

I’ve found that the more I practice the analog process, the less dependent I am on digital technology. In our world of ‘data-driven solutions,’ and with a future of exponential technological growth on the horizon, I am grateful that analog photography has taught me how to be patient.

Analog photography has also taught me an untranslatable term: ‘mono no aware.’ Mono no aware is a Japanese concept, which loosely translates to ‘a melancholic appreciation of the transience of things.’ This concept is pertinent to loss, and as a film photographer, I’ve become content with the idea of a potential image being lost to the process.

What do you hope to do after your Bristol year?

I hope to eventually situate the role of photography in the global contemporary art market. After my Bristol year, I hope to go to law school at some point and eventually specialize in the practice of art brokerage. 

Who are some people at Hamilton that helped influence your project?

Robert Knight, Kevin Grant, Sarah Goldstein, Larry Bender, Ginny Dosch, and Mackenzie Cooley (among countless others).

Final thoughts?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two important characteristics to a great photographer: curiosity and intuition. As I continue my life’s journey, I hope to carry these concepts with me, both in photography, and in my overall life.

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