Cars of the Bronx by Edgar Santana
Bronx born and raised, Edgar Santana is a lover of his borough and the vintage cars within it. Focusing his photo work on the eclectic mix of classic & unique in the Bronx, Edgar's nostalgic work has been featured in the NY Daily News, NBC4, Bronx Zoo and Bronx News 12 along with being exhibited at the Riverdale branch of the NY Public Library, the Roberto Clemente Plaza in the Hub, and the Bronx River Arts Center. We connected with Edgar to learn about his passion for his borough and how that impacts his photography in capturing cars.
How long have you been making photos? I’ve been always into photography. However, 2 years ago, I started solely shooting 35mm film. Since then, I haven’t picked up a digital camera. I love the aesthetic of film. I love how it’s a challenge. I love how I don’t know what images I’ll have until it’s developed. I love how my subjects, whether it’s a street scene or a vintage whip, look on 35mm film. There’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s given me a lot of cool opportunities as well. I’ve had my photos exhibited, been published in a book and my biggest accomplishment to date, was seeing 3 of my photos on billboards throughout the city last summer for an AT&T campaign called “itsa718thing.” My goal is to have my own book. I’m hoping I can make that happen soon!
What inspired you to start photographing? I’ve always loved to capture moments growing up in the Bronx. I always loved looking back at older photos and remembering the good/bad times in my life. I try to shoot daily. I want to capture every day life. That’s why I solely shoot the Bronx. Unfortunately, due to gentrification, the BX changes daily. I want to capture those businesses, those murals, those buildings, those whips...that may not be there tomorrow.
What do you look to capture in your photography? I’m always on the look out. I look for colors, angles, lighting and mood. I want my images to become a scene. If it’s a vintage car, I capture the car in an angle so you don’t see modern day cars in the image. I get many people asking if many of my images are recent, because I really try and make them look as if they are from 20 years ago. I try my best to be creative and original and that’s the advice I give to anyone that’s interested in getting into photography. Don’t follow what you see on social media. Follow what you like. It also doesn’t matter what equipment you have. It’s about your eye. You don’t need a $2,000 camera. Trust me, you don’t.
What drew you to specifically capturing the cars of The Bronx? Oh man, I’ve always been into cars. Always. When I became interested in photography, it was almost a match made in heaven. To me, they’re so easy to shoot. I walk around a vintage car and see what angles look best. I take a minimum of 4 shots per car I find. I noticed there were so many beautiful, vintage rides in the borough and they weren’t getting any love. On my personal feed (@esantana,) I’ve been posting cars since 2011. I felt like the cars needed it’s own feed, so I created the #carsofthebronx hashtag and feed in 2016 and it just took off from there. To date, I’ve captured well over 600 cars. I’ve become known as “the Bronx car guy,” because I know every vintage car in the Bronx. I even have followers reach out to me when they spot one. It’s a beautiful thing. The Bronx car culture is alive and well in the Boogie Down!
Photos by Edgar Santana.