Before landing my first paid photography job and before going to graduate school, I went to the Missouri Workshop and found my people. For the first time what I wanted to spend my life doing was clear. My hotel roommate—a staffer at the Los Angeles Times—planted the seed that it was a great paper to work at. In the years that followed, I found continual inspiration from her work; I joined the Naples Daily News, freelanced in South America, then in California, and a dream to work at the LA Times grew. In December, I joined the paper for a two-year fellowship. Feels pretty surreal in the most special way.
In November, Der Spiegel published a multimedia I produced about The Wayuu in northern Colombia and how they are affected by disenfranchisement. For years Wayuu people in La Guajira survived from subsistence farming and a semi-nomadic culture in the harsh conditions of the desert. But if no action is made to change the present conditions of water scarcity, malnutrition and pollution they may disappear in the coming decades. One of the most impactful decisions was in 1976 when Carbocol agreed to exploit the coal of Cerrejón. Today, the mine is one of the world's largest open coal mines, and spreads over 170,000 acres. The mine is responsible for diverting rivers, and their operation spreads toxic coal particles throughout neighboring communities. The result is tragic. Wayuu organizations estimate the death toll at nearly 14,000 people over the last eight years.
The piece is behind a paywall for the first few weeks.
Hi. It's been a moment. I'm just now seeing that in three months I'll have been based in Los Angeles for a year. Whoa! Posting a much needed update to show you some of the work I've had in the time since I last wrote!
I worked on this story for The Intercept about former Uber driver, Rachel Galindo. As a transgender person, Galindo faced harassment almost immediately when she started driving for the company. Passengers would ask her how much for a BJ, refereed to her as "it" and although she reported these incidents, the company responded using generic emails. It was years before she was able to speak to an Uber employee, but workplace discrimination persisted.
I worked on this story for Stat News about Dr. Richard MacKenzie, who specializes in eating disorders, bedside teaching and uses an integrated approach to medical disorders in adolescents at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.In a Netflix drama "To the Bone", Keanu Reeves plays the doctor based on Dr. Richard MacKenzie.
I worked on this story for the Washington Post about the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. Ever since Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, revenue from this beachfront golf course has dropped.
I recently spent some time for this story in Southern California's El Cajon--home to one of the largest Arabic and Chaldean speaking populations in the country. In the 80s there was a massive influx of Chaldean's escaping persecution in Iraq that emigrated. El Cajon adapted. The schools too. Today, the El Cajon Valley School District employs all these unique inclusion strategies for their newcomers which are largely refugees. They have bilingual teachers, they do book reading nights with the parents, the do one-on-one orientations, teachers are trained to spot trauma and do home visits. It's remarkable. Recently there has been a wave of Syrian's being resettled in El Cajon. This year alone, the district took in 836 new foreign-born students, a third of which are Syrian refugees.
Written by the ever-talented Abigail Hauslohner, the piece ended up running A1 on Saturday.
It ran online with a blog post about the experience. Abigail wrote more about what we went to find in El Cajon and why we approached as such.
I photographed for a story with NBC News about the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots. For it I made portraits of key players and they included a portrait with Lora King, Rodney Kings daughter. "There were plenty of Trayvon Martins, Rodney Kings before those incidents took place. And I believe that we are connected in some way or another."
Also, photographed for this story in the Washington Post about local elections in Los Angeles.
As always, thanks for looking!
There have been an interminable cycle of changes these last handful of months, and all the while I was in Colombia I was feeling far from home. It’s been three months since I shifted gears and opened a chapter up in Los Angeles, California.
The cogs are turning in the US. People are demonstrating, voicing out their wants. Trump promised to fix things for the jobless. He gained a lot of steam with this rhetoric and now we’re seeing so much unfold.
I’m drawn to stories about immigration. Stories about people who uprooted their lives for something different. And now in this new land they have different challenges, fearing deportation, racism and exclusion.
In February, I photographed this story for Stat News about Caribbean trained doctors working in California. An early frontrunner in Mexico’s 2018 presidential race, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador visited Placita Obrador in Los Angeles and the Washington Post used my work for Bloomberg in their story. I worked on this story for Buzzfeed News about how gang injunctions may help gentrify neighborhoods.
In the 80s California, among other states, passed a law that imposed rules, such as mandatory curfews, off-limits locations, rules on alleged gang members, on anyone police labeled a gang member without due process. The injunction is like being on parole without ever having been convicted of a crime.
The story focuses on 21-year-old Peter Arellano--in the two above photos--who has a gang injunction and lives his life under these rules. The story questions whether injunctions have been used to help minority neighborhoods gentrify neighborhoods.
My two cents: On almost every assignment I've been on since moving back to the states I have been confronted with someone joking--or not joking--about whether I come hand-in-hand with fake news. Misinformation is real but I know the organizations I work for are committed to reporting on actual--not fabricated--events. I do believe that instead of censorship, instead of eliminating wrongful speech out there, we should be encouraging critical thinking.
In the last month I've packed up in Bogotá and relocated to Los Angeles. I'm originally from California and the air is feeling pretty good. There are a lot of reasons for the move, but the momentum of these present times have me feeling that home needed me more.
Below I'm sharing one of the pages and some images from a recent assignment I had for UniSPIEGEL in Bogotá. I made portraits of students who were behind organizing a massive march of silence in Bogotá shortly after the peace deal was rejected.
A little late posting this! Back in July I traveled to Cuba to teach photography to high schoolers with National Geographic Student Expeditions. Had a blast leading two different groups. There was something so refreshing about being back in the fresh Cuban HOT air. I had studied in Havana for a semester back in college, 10 years ago. Little things changed, but the big things felt the same.
Driving on this road that only yesterday was a pioneers trail. Long stretches of land, filled up with camper vans and our two hearts. Yellow paint on the asphalt is the only color that cuts the blue sky fogged by white clouds and brown, dry sand.
Lama's keep crossing our path and I can't help but think that it wasn't long ago that this land was theirs. Completely.
Sleeping on the back of our rented, now dusty, truck. Stars above. Waking up with happy blues. Another day gone, another day to roam.
--written on the road in Argentina, week 3 of a beauty of a month-long honeymoon
I'm honored to receive an Emmy in the Suncoast Region for the video I produced about Ethan Arbelo. His life was robbed at 12 by brain cancer and he wanted his story told. He especially wanted to help other kids with a similar predicament to live their life to the fullest. While tumors took root in Ethan's brain, he made the most of the time he was given. Living was an opportunity.
Winning this award means something that would make Ethan happy. Watch the video here.
Last week I participated in 20 Fotografos Amazonas, a collaborative workshop in the Colombian Amazon Jungle. There were twenty groups of three, one tutor leading the group, one student photographer and one local to the community. It was really an incredible experience. Loved the collaborative component to this workshop.
I lead my group in a documentary project about the dislocation of a town due to land erosion and rising river levels. Though the majority of the town left, six people remain. Posting a few of my images from the week.
In Tierradentro, Colombia, a crop substitution program supported by USAID encourages coca growers to try growing bananas or cacao instead. The area is under a unilateral cease-fire but thick with paramilitary and FARC history. Everyone has been affected by the over 50-year-long war. Farmers who have made the switch say they are proud to grow food but are having a lot of trouble making ends meet.
View at Valle de Cocora, a protected part since the 80s.
I moved to Naples after a photography position was offered to me at the Naples Daily News and three years later all these meaningful experiences happened. It's an amazing realization that those things happened because of journalism and being open to somewhere new. I left my job last month and it's those meaningful things that I take with me.
I'm grateful for the people that gave me access to document their lives, for the reporters and photographers at the paper who gave me their time and for my growth.
I've been based in Bogotá, Colombia for about a week. I like the strangeness of knowing that in due time what's around me will be familiar. All the possibility. Below, friends crowd around a fire in Parque Nuesa, just outside Bogotá in Colombia.
"I want to be who I wish I want to be. I mean. Not wish I want to be; what I am."
Dee-Vyne "Dee" Valentine, 12, is a male to female transgender. She left her former name, Dante, behind last school year and started the sixth grade in August 2014 with the name she feels represents who she is. Sensing the challenges that lie ahead, her mom, Christina Mays worried about the transition at first. But after educating herself on the high rate of suicides involving transgender people, she decided to do what she could to facilitate her daughter's wishes.
On her 12th birthday, as her family reminded her to make a wish before blowing out her candles she repeated, "every day, my wises come true."
Below are the pdfs of what the story looked like in print. A special thank you to the ever talented
for writing this story.
Jacqueline Chanquet props up her niece, Asani, 2, so she can get a better look out the window while doing laundry, earlier today. They live in low-income housing at George Washington Carver Apartments in a neighborhood called River Park. Chanquet's lived there for 25 years.
In the 1960s, River Park was where the black population could buy property in Naples. Back then, it was on the outskirts of town. Now, River Park is in the center of the city, which means the property values have skyrocketed. A proposed sale of the apartments is a recurring issue.