Blog

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

Stories from Nepal.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal that killed many, and left many more injured and homeless. I am in Nepal working on a variety of projects documenting some of the reconstruction efforts. I am excited to be working with Americares documenting some of their reconstruction efforts in Nepal. As a personal project, I am working on creating stories of Kids of Kathmandu's efforts in Nepal rebuilding schools and supporting orphans. I have worked with them in the past and I am a big fan of their work. I also admire and respect its founders Andrew and Jami who pour immense amounts of love, and tireless work to the success of the organization, and the children.  I am lucky to have teamed up with Chris Lynch a friend, a Sony Artisan, accomplished film maker, and a fellow photographer. He is helping me create content that will help them get the word out on the great work these organizations are doing.  Big thanks to Sony Artisans for their support. Stay tuned for more!

You want to donate to a cause there is none better than Kids of Kathmandu.

 This is the most amazing Samjhana. She was so patient with us, smart and quite the charmer.

This is the most amazing Samjhana. She was so patient with us, smart and quite the charmer.

 

 

Creating photographs for good

We've broken ground!!! 9 of 50 schools are now in the process of being rebuilt in Kavre, Sindupalchowk, and Ramechap. In...

Posted by Kids of Kathmandu on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

There is no better feeling than knowing the work you do is helping others. I was in Kathmandu on a commercial project and took time to photograph for my favorite NGO Kids of Kathmandu. They are doing great things for the children in Nepal before and after the earthquake in 2015. Check it out here, and if you can give please do. It definitely goes to the right place.

Cuba photo workshop and Phase One

Along with my assignment photography work I started a photo workshop company with a friend and colleague for many years. Bruce Byers and myself are starting out first workshop in Cuba along with Phase One. The new workshop website is cameravoyages.com. I am very excited to be able to share my knowledge and travel experience with people. This video is a bit of what clients will experience in my workshop. Cuba is such a visually interesting place More to come!

Sierra Leone family

Sierra Leone, family from william vazquez on Vimeo.

Right now Sierra Leone is in the grips of an Ebola epidemic which seems to get worse by the day. My travels to Sierra Leone last year showed me what a beautiful people they are. Not only in physical beauty, but beauty, as a caring, hospitable, friendly, and welcoming people trying to live life just like you and me, but under sometimes very difficult circumstances. They have survived a brutal civil war where the term "blood diamonds" comes from, and are still hopeful of their future.  Want to help? then give to organizations that are making a difference.

Many thanks to Lindsey Pollaczek from Direct Relief, the Medical Research Center in Sierra Leone, and Direct Relief. All of whom do amazing work that help save the lives of babies, and mothers. 

Africa on my mind: documenting malaria testing and obstetric fistula treatment in East Africa

As I prepare for a return trip to Africa. East Africa this time around (Kenya and Uganda) to work on malaria and obstetric fistula stories I think back to my recent trip to Sierra Leone. I put together a video of some highlights of the trip.

Sierra Leone highlight reel from william vazquez on Vimeo.

This is the video I made for Direct Relief about their Midwife support program in Sierra Leone.

Direct Relief Midwife support program; Sierra Leone, Africa from william vazquez on Vimeo.

 

 

Tornado response; traveling to Moore, Oklahoma with Direct Relief.

I have been in hurriances and seen their aftermath. I have experinced earthquakes and seen the destruction. None of those past experiences prepared me for what I saw in Moore, Oklahoma after an EF5 tornado. In some places it was a destruction so total it is a miracle that people survived. Survived they did, and right away they started to pick up the pieces of their lives. Groups of all kinds started streaming into Moore soon after the tornado, church groups, NGO's, government agencies, veterans, and just regular people who piled up supplies and equipment in their trucks and drove hundreds of miles to help. They came to clean up, cut trees, feed people, provide medical attention, bring medicine, to help in any way possible. I am glad I was able to travel with Direct Relief to document their efforts in Moore. I put together a video which shows the relationship between Direct Relief and Team Rubicon. The goal being how working together they are able to more effectively get help to the people that need it faster and more efficiently.

DR Moore-OKC rubicon v3 from william vazquez on Vimeo.

This video is about Direct Relief's response to the disaster.

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Aging out of Foster Care: Brittny's story

At 18 years old you age out of the foster care system. That means no place to live, no job, no support, and the emotional scars that have been caused by having to go through foster care.  This is Brittny's story on the challenges she has faced since she aged out of foster care.

This video was a collaboration with Salaam Garage a citizens journalism for social change NGO  and myself check them out.

Salsa dancing at "Lets Dance with Arthritis" in Galway, Ireland

I didn't know what to expect when I showed up one frigid morning in Galway, Ireland. What I knew is that I was photographing a dance. Its always hard to predict what going to happen when working on scant information. At least I wouldn't have the communication issues I face in places that don't speak English or Spanish or something close. Although I always muddle through with limited charm and wit. It was great fun and I also made a small video for the client and the NGO. So here is a plug for them, a good organization that helps many people.

Use it or lose it! Arthritis Ireland an, organization for arthritis sufferers in Ireland organizes dances to get people suffering from arthritis up from the couch and on to the dance floor.The goal being to get them exercising which helps keep them limber. This is one couples story on living with arthritis

 

What's the travel like?

I get many questions about what its like to work on a project like the one I just completed. A project with lots of travel, and many uncertainties. My response is...."It's the best" Which is an honest answer. Photographers dream about these kind of assignments. I am privileged to work on a project like this with clients that trust me and appreciate my work.

Now the not so glamorous details. I am going to break this up in a few parts in different posts.

Part 1 Organization and travel

I work by myself on these type projects. I travel with no assistant nor a client. I generally connect with a local person that is connected to whatever I am photographing. Sometimes they handle moving me around, sometimes I arrange for local transport in order to show up someplace like a hospital and they show me around. I spend lots of time moving around either in a plane, bus, car, train, tuk tuk, motorcycle, walking, running any and all kinds of transport. No dog sleds...yet, although I have been on one for a different project a while back. I travel as light as possible although it feels like I am still taking too much, particularly when you have to pack for different seasons.

The shoot schedule is very tight that tends to change every day in some form. In this case the design agency coordinates with the client on the schedule. Its up to me to be there on time and ready to work. Its all on a very big spreadsheet that is not too much fun to look at on an iphone.  I have to be prepared to rearrange travel on the go in order to meet the schedule. Thank God for the internet, travel agents, and the iphone! Also being prepared for the unexpected like crazy long layovers, closed airports, broken airplanes, no one who speaks any language that I understand, bad weather, no food where you are stuck, no place to get cash, showing up in the middle of the night, don't take credit cards, no cars left to rent, no taxis, the list goes on and on.

So where did I get this kind or experience navigating? When I was a photography assistant I worked with a few guys who did serious travel, and picked up a few pointers. Thanks guys!

This a slide show of the many things I saw in my travels. No actual work shots yet. My client gets first crack on publishing them.

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.

The motorbike, and its not a motorcycle.

Earlier this year I did a lot of traveling for a project. I was doing documentary photography of some NGO programs in Vietnam. Vietnam is a great place by the way. I was there to document an Avian flu prevention program run by by CARE for poultry farmers near HCMC. The farmers involvement is very important because they are the front line to preventing the spread of the disease in their flocks as well as the population at large.

One of the primary means of transport in Vietnam is the motorbike. There are millions of them, literally. It's cheap, and can go almost anywhere. Here is a short movie of an encounter I had with one in Vietnam in getting to the farms.

Please help CARE in their work. They are a worthy organization. I have seen some of the amazing things that they do.a

Chicago, Columbus, Kanosha, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Campo verde, Rome, Ludwigshafen, Hanover, Santo Domingo, Kingston, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Tri, Guangzhou, Shanghai in 1 minute 20 seconds.

In the course of 2 months I photographed doctors, children, teachers, scientists, engineers, mothers, fathers, community activists, business people, nurses, orphans, farmers, firemen, monks, and many people from all walks of life for a client in various locations around the world. The goal to get the essence of the people in how they live and work; I can't say I remember everyone I met, but I certainly feel that I shared some good moments with them. I make it a point to interact with everyone I photograph. I photographed in farms, factories, communes, schools, hospitals, schools, clinics, offices, temples, and everywhere in-between. Here is a small sampling of some of the people, and places.

Geisha the movie: Behind the scenes production video

Ok, the last piece of the project. No more geisha after this! Well unless another project pops up. The art has been installed and has gotten very positive comments. In fact I have been commissioned to make another piece for the client. Thanks to my crew who really, really helped make this happen, and continue to do so for other projects on a regular basis.

Model: Natsuko Koizumi, Photo associates: Andrea Patton, Gabriela Herman,  Wardrobe styling: allyson Vieira, hair/makeup: Nancy Sprague, videographer: David Levitsky, Retouching: Mark Beckelman