- What does visual peacemaking mean to you?
Visual peacemaking means being sensitive to show people and cultures in a way that reflects a true and positive image of an individual’s reality. In other words, it is essential to evoke a common understanding of humanity in the world and not just focus on the most sensationalistic or dramatic problems and issues. While it is important to be honest (and sometimes it is necessary to show hard things), many times negative and clichéd stereotypes portray people groups in a way that takes away their dignity. I hope to show the beauty and the positive side of such cultures and people through my photography.
- What motivates you to be a peacemaker?
I am motivated to be a peacemaker because of various reasons. First, the world can be improved by better communication, a deeper understanding of cultures and through striving for peace in communities and countries (and not just the absence of war). There is definitely too much poverty, strife, war and suffering in the world. If photography can help bring understanding and clarity about this (however that may come about), I consider photography an essential medium for peacemaking. Also, my faith in God informs my deep desire to see positive change in the world. I feel called to be a peacemaker and share hope in the world in the most positive, engaging way that I possibly can. This is especially true of any work for NGOs that promotes improvement and a better world, or when an image simply helps create a clearer understanding about a people group or culture.
- Have you ever felt stereotyped?
The only times that I have felt stereotyped have been when I have lived in other countries for extended periods of time, such as Mexico, Guatemala or Brazil. Nothing really negative though, just a general misunderstanding of what Latin Americans would consider the “typical” American (I would rather use the term North American). I just don’t fit the mold (if one actually exists).
- How does your camera get you to reflect on your world and your life?
I see the world through my camera. It most definitely makes me slow down and observe what is going on in a more pensive, critical way. Because of my camera, I am always focusing on issues and topics that are social in nature; it makes me look outward instead of inward. Moreover, my camera makes me stop and see details around me, and not just rush through my day.
- What do you like to photograph best?
I most definitely like to photograph people and different cultures. I also have a heart for marginalized people groups, youth and social issues. I especially like cultural events that highlight a country’s heritage or current events that show the heartbeat of what a city or village is about. Although my main focus has been Latin America, I hope to branch out to other areas and topics in the world. I also hope to focus on more specific topics through photo essays (and improve my skills with multimedia/video/still images) as well.
- What technical aspect of photography do you find most challenging?
Without a doubt, artificial lighting does create some challenges. I tend to shoot outside and use natural light. I will sometimes use a reflector or a Gary Fong LightSphere, but I try to keep the artificial light to a minimum. I’d love to experiment more in the future, though!
- Is there a particular group you feel is misunderstood or stereotyped that you’d like to document common humanity amongst?
Living on the U.S.-Mexico border, there are many misconceptions and prejudices about why people try and come to the U.S. looking for a better life. It is very easy to consider immigrants as the “other” and dehumanize them. As I document different realities in the Borderlands, I am hoping to humanize and increase awareness about people that are not very well known or who have been misunderstood. I guess this idea can be transferred to other marginalized people groups as well: Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica, Brazilians who live in favelas etc. In spite of prejudice and misunderstandings, these people groups many times have a dignity and beauty that is passed over by mainstream society.
- Do you have an idea worth sharing?
As a lover of foreign languages, I would encourage people to take the time and really get to know the cultures that they are photographing by studying and learning the local language. Although a translator may sometimes be necessary, try and take the time to be conversationally fluent to be able to connect with people on a deeper level. Obviously this is not easy, but it will definitely pay off in the end if you can speak directly with the people you are photographing. Also, I think it is a great idea to give photos to the people that you are documenting (there are some great small, instant printers available). This way, you are not just “taking” a person’s image from them, but also sharing a memento of your time and interactions together. Many times, this could be the only current photo that a person has of his or her family etc. Also, as much as possible, talk with people and learn their names instead of just snapping a quick photo and moving on. I am a fan of wider-angle lenses, and because of that it is necessary to be closer and interact with people. Try keeping your telephoto lenses in your bag; it will undoubtedly change your perspective and how you interact with people.
I have a special interest in helping fatih-based, humanitarian organizations. As a humanitarian photographer, my goal is to capture subjects in a dignified way, while showing compassion and respect for the human condition. I also have a gift for languages (A PhD in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American literature) that helps me connect with people and communicate on a deeper level. I always strive to make positive change in the world, and I would love to come alongside your cause to express the visual story that would help your organization reach its intended audience. I have published photos for some of the following organizations:
Plant With Purpose
Mission To North America
Hope Unlimited for Children
Friends of Friendship Park
Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries
Nazarene Communications Network
KPBS Arts Blog
United Methodist Reporter
San Diego Natural History Museum
La Prensa San Diego
My Recent Activity
- I added: Challenges and Hope in La Limonada
to Photo Stories on May 01, 2013
- I added: La Posada Sin Fronteras 2012: A Higher Wall at the U.S.-Mexico Border
to Photo Stories on January 16, 2013
- I added: If Eyes Could Speak: Portraits of Children from Latin America
to Galleries on October 05, 2012
- I added: Breaking Down Walls at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Celebrating La Posada Sin Fronteras 2011
to Photo Stories on December 14, 2011
- I added: Hope and Life School in Brazil: A Story of Perseverance
to Photo Stories on September 30, 2011
- I added: Friendship Park Celebration: The 40th Anniversary of Pat Nixon’s Hope
to Photo Stories on August 22, 2011
- I added: Guatemala: Colors, Culture and People
to Galleries on June 25, 2011
- I added: Save Friendship Park Day
to Photo Stories on March 17, 2011
- I added: Beautiful Favela
to Galleries on March 09, 2011