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William Vázquez is an advertising, portrait & documentary photographer based in New York, USA.

2016 in photos review

Some highlights from the projects of 2016

 Working with AbbVie and  Direct Relief  documenting the emergency relief efforts in villages affected by hurricane Matthew in the Dominican Republic. This is a mother and child waiting their turn to see a doctor and get medications in the Monte Plata region of the Dominican Republic. We were in a tiny village community clinic overflowing with old people, plenty of babies and families waiting in very hot and humid conditions with an overwhelming smell of raw sewage from the flooding.

Working with AbbVie and Direct Relief documenting the emergency relief efforts in villages affected by hurricane Matthew in the Dominican Republic. This is a mother and child waiting their turn to see a doctor and get medications in the Monte Plata region of the Dominican Republic. We were in a tiny village community clinic overflowing with old people, plenty of babies and families waiting in very hot and humid conditions with an overwhelming smell of raw sewage from the flooding.

 In many of the places I work in I stand out. Blending into the background, and being present when I choose to is something I strive for. This little one wasn't going to let me blend in. She watched me like a hawk. Documenting emergency relief efforts by AbbVie and  Direct Relief  in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew in the Dominican Republic.

In many of the places I work in I stand out. Blending into the background, and being present when I choose to is something I strive for. This little one wasn't going to let me blend in. She watched me like a hawk. Documenting emergency relief efforts by AbbVie and Direct Relief in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew in the Dominican Republic.

 I explored parts of India that I had ever seen before and had some amazing experiences. Young monks blowing horns during a remembrance ceremony on the steps of their monastery in the Ladhak region of India in the Himalayas.

I explored parts of India that I had ever seen before and had some amazing experiences. Young monks blowing horns during a remembrance ceremony on the steps of their monastery in the Ladhak region of India in the Himalayas.

 Getting the shot!  Christopher M. Lynch  driving while  Kedar P. Gaekwad  films. I got to work with some awesome people in 2016. I traveled through India and Nepal with Chris. We worked on some assignments together as well as did some research on future projects. He was an amazing travel partner and photographer always ready to go the extra mile to get the shot. It was a privilege to work with Kedar. I met him five years ago on one of my first projects in India and we have kept in contact since. I have seen him go from director of photography to directing feature films in Mumbai. Talented guys!

Getting the shot! Christopher M. Lynch driving while Kedar P. Gaekwad films. I got to work with some awesome people in 2016. I traveled through India and Nepal with Chris. We worked on some assignments together as well as did some research on future projects. He was an amazing travel partner and photographer always ready to go the extra mile to get the shot. It was a privilege to work with Kedar. I met him five years ago on one of my first projects in India and we have kept in contact since. I have seen him go from director of photography to directing feature films in Mumbai. Talented guys!

 Riding the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. The bike is underpowered, heavy, and terrible brakes, but amazing to ride through the Himalayas. Always find time to do things that make you happy. Love what you do, and it will love you back!

Riding the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. The bike is underpowered, heavy, and terrible brakes, but amazing to ride through the Himalayas. Always find time to do things that make you happy. Love what you do, and it will love you back!

 I strive to create photographs that illustrate the joys of life no matter how mundane or small. School girls playing at recess captured while on assignment in India for  Abbott

I strive to create photographs that illustrate the joys of life no matter how mundane or small. School girls playing at recess captured while on assignment in India for Abbott

 One of my favorite assignments of 2016. It's amazing how much compassion the organizations I work with have for the people they help. On assignment for  Americares  documenting their rebuilding efforts after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. This is Junkiri, she was seriously injured when her house collapsed on her during the earthquake. @americares helped her with much needed physical rehabilitation so she could help in providing for her children. I went with her doctor up into the mountains of the Sindhupalchowk district to follow up on her progress. She is doing great and was happy for us to all crowd into her house.

One of my favorite assignments of 2016. It's amazing how much compassion the organizations I work with have for the people they help. On assignment for Americares documenting their rebuilding efforts after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. This is Junkiri, she was seriously injured when her house collapsed on her during the earthquake. @americares helped her with much needed physical rehabilitation so she could help in providing for her children. I went with her doctor up into the mountains of the Sindhupalchowk district to follow up on her progress. She is doing great and was happy for us to all crowd into her house.

 You really have to have a reason to be someplace up in the mountains around Kathmandu. The roads are more like river beds and in the rain that is exactly what they are. I was traveling with doctors from  Americares  in a raging storm doing follow up visits of patients in remote villages. The roads were terrible, but at least this time I wasn't freaked out about my driver being extremely cross eyed. That is another story from a previous trip into the mountains

You really have to have a reason to be someplace up in the mountains around Kathmandu. The roads are more like river beds and in the rain that is exactly what they are. I was traveling with doctors from Americares in a raging storm doing follow up visits of patients in remote villages. The roads were terrible, but at least this time I wasn't freaked out about my driver being extremely cross eyed. That is another story from a previous trip into the mountains

 One of my favorite images from 2016. It was from an assignment for @Americares. We crowded into Junkiri's tiny one room home in the mountains of Sindhupalchok to escape the pouring rain. It was literally pitch black inside, so dark that I didn't notice that right next to me there was "grandfather" who put his hand on my arm to guide me to a seat. I suspect that Nepalis can see in the dark. As I was having a conversation in the darkness. I contemplated how I was going to be able to photograph. Then someone turned the light on their phone, then another, and another. It was beautiful, and a solution to my dilemma. Jinkiri's daughter went around offering us, and what looked like half the village crammed into her hut some tea and freshly made popcorn made from the corn she had drying in her home. It was a beautiful moment, and after some arranging of the "lights" I was able to get a good representation of that moment. We should have stayed over that night. The drive back down the mountain was a nightmare of roads blocked by parts of homes and power lines brought down by the storm.

One of my favorite images from 2016. It was from an assignment for @Americares. We crowded into Junkiri's tiny one room home in the mountains of Sindhupalchok to escape the pouring rain. It was literally pitch black inside, so dark that I didn't notice that right next to me there was "grandfather" who put his hand on my arm to guide me to a seat. I suspect that Nepalis can see in the dark. As I was having a conversation in the darkness. I contemplated how I was going to be able to photograph. Then someone turned the light on their phone, then another, and another. It was beautiful, and a solution to my dilemma. Jinkiri's daughter went around offering us, and what looked like half the village crammed into her hut some tea and freshly made popcorn made from the corn she had drying in her home. It was a beautiful moment, and after some arranging of the "lights" I was able to get a good representation of that moment. We should have stayed over that night. The drive back down the mountain was a nightmare of roads blocked by parts of homes and power lines brought down by the storm.

 I visited small tribal villages in Rajasthan and was invited to opium tea cookies with the local tribesmen. I got to dress up and there is photographic proof. Don't ask me how to make that turban.

I visited small tribal villages in Rajasthan and was invited to opium tea cookies with the local tribesmen. I got to dress up and there is photographic proof. Don't ask me how to make that turban.

 I was the favorite target of every kid within a mile on Holi the festival of colors. This was from the first 30 minutes of walking the streets of Thamal, Kathmandu. So much fun!

I was the favorite target of every kid within a mile on Holi the festival of colors. This was from the first 30 minutes of walking the streets of Thamal, Kathmandu. So much fun!

 In the mountains of Nepal you are always climbing up or climbing down. I was with a group of women who are social workers for  Americares . We were climbing down a very steep hill. I was in front. When I got to the bottom I offered my hand to help the woman behind me. She laughed at me. She said "we are mountain women" true that! She could probably carry me down and up that hill in sandals no less.

In the mountains of Nepal you are always climbing up or climbing down. I was with a group of women who are social workers for Americares. We were climbing down a very steep hill. I was in front. When I got to the bottom I offered my hand to help the woman behind me. She laughed at me. She said "we are mountain women" true that! She could probably carry me down and up that hill in sandals no less.

 On our way to the days location in rural India, and I spot out of the corner of my eye movement. I look and see off in the distance kids swinging from the hanging vines of a banyan tree. I of course make everyone go out of their way to go investigate. It was amazing and of course all the kids I happened to be photographing were there. Almost like I had planned it. Perfect! On assignment for  Abbott .

On our way to the days location in rural India, and I spot out of the corner of my eye movement. I look and see off in the distance kids swinging from the hanging vines of a banyan tree. I of course make everyone go out of their way to go investigate. It was amazing and of course all the kids I happened to be photographing were there. Almost like I had planned it. Perfect! On assignment for Abbott.

 t's gratifying when I get to photograph a success story. These three are triplets born severely under term in Kosovo. They survived due to the efforts of their amazing doctor, and to the availability of a drug to help premature babies breathe. These three were a handful running around hopped up on sugar, didn't speak any language I did, and had everyone who was there telling them something different to do. The whole shoot lasted 45 minutes with 40 of them spent in the ritual of eating pastries, cookies, and tea with the family then 5 minutes left for shooting. On assignment for AbbVie with  Americares  in Kosovo.

t's gratifying when I get to photograph a success story. These three are triplets born severely under term in Kosovo. They survived due to the efforts of their amazing doctor, and to the availability of a drug to help premature babies breathe. These three were a handful running around hopped up on sugar, didn't speak any language I did, and had everyone who was there telling them something different to do. The whole shoot lasted 45 minutes with 40 of them spent in the ritual of eating pastries, cookies, and tea with the family then 5 minutes left for shooting. On assignment for AbbVie with Americares in Kosovo.

 Photographed some tough things in 2016. Premature baby wards where you see tiny babies being kept alive in incubators. Survival of preemies is a huge challenge in developing countries.

Photographed some tough things in 2016. Premature baby wards where you see tiny babies being kept alive in incubators. Survival of preemies is a huge challenge in developing countries.

 Travelled with @directrelief to Chiapas, Mexico. We visited families who need help with transporting their children to the hospital for cancer treatment. Some of these families would need to travel more that 8 hours round trip from their village. A trip they cannot afford.

Travelled with @directrelief to Chiapas, Mexico. We visited families who need help with transporting their children to the hospital for cancer treatment. Some of these families would need to travel more that 8 hours round trip from their village. A trip they cannot afford.

 Young monks traveling in packs at a Monastery in Bhutan. I led a photo workshop with @cameravoyages to Bhutan/Nepal. I was part den mother, teacher, cat herder, guide, doctor, storyteller, and therapist. Taking people to experience the world the way I do when on assignment is a pleasure and a privilege.

Young monks traveling in packs at a Monastery in Bhutan. I led a photo workshop with @cameravoyages to Bhutan/Nepal. I was part den mother, teacher, cat herder, guide, doctor, storyteller, and therapist. Taking people to experience the world the way I do when on assignment is a pleasure and a privilege.

 I spent a little time with these guys who were swimming at sunset off the Malecon in Havana, Cuba. Amazing light and always something different going on.

I spent a little time with these guys who were swimming at sunset off the Malecon in Havana, Cuba. Amazing light and always something different going on.

 I spent a couple of days with a family documenting their day to day work. She wanted to wear her favorite dress during the entire shoot. I enquired about a sari and was given a face of "no way". They let us disrupt their day and did whatever was asked. Beautiful people through and through and I appreciate the openness and effort in their part.

I spent a couple of days with a family documenting their day to day work. She wanted to wear her favorite dress during the entire shoot. I enquired about a sari and was given a face of "no way". They let us disrupt their day and did whatever was asked. Beautiful people through and through and I appreciate the openness and effort in their part.

 Leaving a monastery in the Ladakh region of India, and we run into these guys. Apprentice monks, they were fun to watch aggressive, a homemade cricket bat, talking smack. So serious about their cricket game. Love the moment.

Leaving a monastery in the Ladakh region of India, and we run into these guys. Apprentice monks, they were fun to watch aggressive, a homemade cricket bat, talking smack. So serious about their cricket game. Love the moment.

 Mexico amazing in so many ways, beauty, culture, food, people, I can't count the ways.

Mexico amazing in so many ways, beauty, culture, food, people, I can't count the ways.

 Woke up at 11,000 and beautiful vistas. Himalayas, Ladakh, India.

Woke up at 11,000 and beautiful vistas. Himalayas, Ladakh, India.

 You can't leave until you have eaten said grandmother as she prepared the food over an open fire in the hut they live in. We were on our way out and she handed me an egg taco and a cup of watered down coffee. She stood there and watched me eat to make sure I finished it. Then she gave me more. Every home I visited in the countryside the same thing happened. Simple but great tasting food. I was so full I couldn't eat for the rest of the day. Chiapas, Mexico

You can't leave until you have eaten said grandmother as she prepared the food over an open fire in the hut they live in. We were on our way out and she handed me an egg taco and a cup of watered down coffee. She stood there and watched me eat to make sure I finished it. Then she gave me more. Every home I visited in the countryside the same thing happened. Simple but great tasting food. I was so full I couldn't eat for the rest of the day. Chiapas, Mexico

 Made a difference with a group of kids lives. Fundraised for @kidsofkathmandu and working on more for 2017!

Made a difference with a group of kids lives. Fundraised for @kidsofkathmandu and working on more for 2017!

 My last post of this series. Photographed while on the road between Shillong, and Kochi India. The great adventure of 2016 started in 2015. My old friend Greg @dospinguinosindia proposed we do something a little crazy for 2016. Together we participated in the Rickshaw Run. Driving 2500 miles through India in an auto Rickshaw. Just for the hell of it, and to fundraise for orphanages in India and in Nepal. Surprisingly we survived this, and lived to tell the story. It was an amazing thing to do with lots of laughs, scares, bad roads, terrible food, horrific hotels, time wasted searching for elusive rickshaw parts, very warm beer, copious sweating, near misses with homicidal bus drivers, cows, and amazing interactions with Indians from all walks of life that were happy to see us. Even if they did think we were a little insane, ok very insane. There are so many images left to show, and people to talk about from 2016. I did my best to cover the highlights. My deepest gratitude to my clients, friends, followers, and people who let me into their lives to photograph them. A special thanks to my wife  Scherezade Garcia  who gives me the freedom to do what I love even when she tells me things like "wait a minute you are driving that thing across India? I don't know if I like that"Together you made 2016 great, both in my work, and personally. Although those worlds occupy the same space in my life. I am what I do! Onward to an awe inspiring 2017.

My last post of this series. Photographed while on the road between Shillong, and Kochi India. The great adventure of 2016 started in 2015. My old friend Greg @dospinguinosindia proposed we do something a little crazy for 2016. Together we participated in the Rickshaw Run. Driving 2500 miles through India in an auto Rickshaw. Just for the hell of it, and to fundraise for orphanages in India and in Nepal. Surprisingly we survived this, and lived to tell the story. It was an amazing thing to do with lots of laughs, scares, bad roads, terrible food, horrific hotels, time wasted searching for elusive rickshaw parts, very warm beer, copious sweating, near misses with homicidal bus drivers, cows, and amazing interactions with Indians from all walks of life that were happy to see us. Even if they did think we were a little insane, ok very insane. There are so many images left to show, and people to talk about from 2016. I did my best to cover the highlights. My deepest gratitude to my clients, friends, followers, and people who let me into their lives to photograph them. A special thanks to my wife Scherezade Garcia who gives me the freedom to do what I love even when she tells me things like "wait a minute you are driving that thing across India? I don't know if I like that"Together you made 2016 great, both in my work, and personally. Although those worlds occupy the same space in my life. I am what I do! Onward to an awe inspiring 2017.

Afghanistan 2006

10 years ago I was asked to go to Afghanistan for a Abbott a commercial client. They wanted to document the work an NGO (Afghan Institute of Learning) that they supported was doing in Afghanistan. I was excited and honestly very worried. I had never been in an active war zone. Although it can be argued that growing up in NYC in the 70's qualifies as a war zone. Particularly in the neighborhoods I lived in. Needless to say my wife was not to happy. I was a father with two young children and the chances of something happening to you are high. Not to mention there were other issues. Number one being that this was my first job for them. Also it was more like documentary photography which was a departure from what my work at that time which was commercial portraits with lighting etc. So lots of things to consider. Of course I said yes! I never turn down an opportunity to be challenged and of course travel.

I started doing the research I needed to make the trip happen. Visas, travel, local customs, on the ground conditions, and connecting with the in country organization that I was going to work with. Luckily I had great support from my clients, and I already had lots of travel experience to lean on. It is one of the defining moments in my career as an artist and a person. It has led me to all sorts of new opportunities and people.  All I had to do what take a leap into the unknown.

This project helped with my perspective of how I see the world and photograph it. Thoughts I live by in my day to day.

  • I want my photos to be beautiful
  • I want to show the best of humanity
  • I portray people with dignity

This photo is one I took while I was at a clinic outside of Kabul with the most amazing Afghani woman. Dr. Sakena Yacoobi. She is a force of nature and I am lucky to have spent some time with her. Normally women in Afghanistan cover themselves from head to toe in Burkas. Behind walls they can a little more relaxed with that. Although if a man is around they normally stay covered up. So being basically an alien from another planet in a place like Afghanistan some of those rules don't apply to me. She was sitting waiting her turn to see the doctor, and we stopped to talk to her. Well I spoke through Sakena. She had pulled her burka over her head in a relaxed way, but covered her face a bit with her hand so I could really see her fully. I would ask questions like what she was doing there, how was she feeling, about her family etc. As we spoke I set up my Speed Graphic 4x5 camera, and started taking some photos. I really wanted to see her smile, but she would not drop her hand, and was very serious. As we spoke I took a few shots I tried a few words in Farsi the local language and she found that very amusing, she smiled behind her hand, and I clicked the shutter. Then she had put her hand down and had graced me with a beautiful smile. Wow what a privilege!!  These are the moments I live for. I ended up only taking a few photos of her and the photo stars were in alignment that I had captured what I was looking for. It wasn't used by the client but it was more for me anyway.

Tech specs

  • 1960's era Speed Graphic view camera
  • 150 mm Schneider lens
  • Type 55 Polaroid film (sadly, extinct now killed by the digital revolution)

The best part of what I do as a photographer

Photographing life in India The best part of what I do as a photographer? Getting to know people that I would probably never, ever encounter if it wasn't for being a photographer. Meeting people from different cultures and spending some time with them, eating with them, drinking tea with them really keeps things in perspective for me, and I find immensely enjoyable. I am lucky. Here I am getting to know and sharing a bit of tea with Abhimand a bit before I photograph him earlier this year on an assignment for Abbott. He was on his way to deliver milk from his cows to the milk receiving center in Shirdi, India about five hours east of Mumbai.

Photography featured in Abbott Brazil Corporate Citizenship Report

I was in Brazil last year on assignment for Abbott Global Citizenship report. This particular report is for Abbott Brazil specifically using photos I took while in Brazil it also includes photography I did in China, Haiti, as well as the USA. Here are a  few selected pages from the report. If you want to see more of what Abbott Brazil does in corporate citizenship click here. Also check out the main Abbott citizenship site here.

Can you shoot video also?

Those are the words that I have been hearing a lot from clients these days. My answer is of course we can! The advantages of shooting both is that they work together as companion pieces. Although In my experience its always been a challenge trying to do still, and video together in the same shoot without compromising one or the other. I think I found the magic sauce; with the right crew, and clients who trust you anything is possible. I can go on and on about the process, but thats perhaps a future blog post.

Many thanks to Jason Rogers my camera man on this project, and Charley Parden my assistant who somehow always finds parking among his many other skills. They made the process go smoothly, efficiently, and more importantly successful.

9th stop Rio, Brazil....never made it, but stayed in Sao Paulo

The weather has played a huge part in my recent travels unfortunately not for the better. I was stuck in Shengyang, China (a small city near North Korea, although they did have a Prada, Gucci, and Burberry boutiques just to name a few) when on my way to Singapore because of snow, getting around Chicago was a nightmare with all the snow and the cold. I almost slid my rental car into another car in Odense, Denmark. Luckily whatever I did kept me from hitting the car, but got myself stuck in a snow bank instead. A woman who was jogging passed by me, volunteered to help push my car out of the snow bank as a result of the slide. Did I mention Danes are amazing?

So why should flying from Copenhagen via Frankfurt be any different? I was supposed to fly to Sao Paulo and make a connection to Rio de Janiero.  That was not to be....My flight from Frankfurt was late by an hour then the connecting airlines computers were having issues so they couldn't get me on another flight.  I traveled by taxi to the domestic airport to try to get another flight no luck. Ugh...a rare defeat for me. I usually mange to overcome those issues somehow.  Anyway Rio was rescheduled and I stayed in Sao Paulo to work on other parts of the project. I photographed doctors, patients, battery recycling, regular people, kids, babies, and triplets...the triplets were a challenge.

I was last in Sao Paulo 10 years ago, and it was really great to be there again. Its a busy metropolis of 10,886,517 in the city and 19,616,060 in the greater metropolitan area of people with things to do.

Thanks to everyone in Sao Paulo who made my short time there interesting and special.

Observations in Sao Paulo in February: Hot!, beautiful people, clean for such a large city, bad traffic, crazy afternoon rains, great food, Brazilian Portuguese sounds beautiful, great music, friendly people, great vibe, Bohemia beer, and those Capirinas that somehow taste better there.

 

Flying into Sao Paulo. This is the edge of the city. Look how it ends so abruptly an>

The clouds are rolling in right on time 4pm.

 

Thunder storm out my window at the Sheraton Sao Paulo Brooklin. During the storm the power went out in the hotel for about an hour.

The scrum.

Ok I am not a spot news photographer, but when a client calls, and says "hey can you go to the Clinton Foundation to photograph Bill making an announcement." I say YES! I jumped at the opportunity to bask in Bill's rock star aura. He even threw in a tear jerker moment in his speech for good measure. He's good! Unfortunately I did not get a chance to talk to him or get closer than 6 feet away, but it was still was a thrill. Jeez, I sound like such a groupie

Here is a photo of a small section of everyone else crammed into the conference room. I had my own reserved spot, but still had to dive in, and crawl around the floor to get a few different angles. It was a bit crazy with everyone jockeying for position. I have a lot or respect for the spot news photogs. it's a rough biz.