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

Cultural lifestyle, Ethiopian Horsemen

I had been with the horsemen for a while taking their photos while they primped their horses to get them to look just right. I was starting to worry they weren't going to do anything it was taking so long. Then all of a sudden they were off, I had to scramble to the spot I thought I was going to get the shot, and I almost missed it. The scene reminded me of a painting I saw somewhere in a museum far away from Ethiopia.  That is what I wanted to capture a painting in action. Carter Center, ITI and Pfizer celebtate 100 millionth dose MalTRA week in Dongla Ethiopia.


Stories from the road, Kisumu Kenya

w_vazquez_william_kisumu-8951The sun is setting and I am at a restaurant by the beach in Kisumu, Kenya. We pretty much finished shooting for the day, I was looking forward to sitting down, not sweating profusely and a cold Tusker beer. As I sit down and notice the fisherman on the beach startheading out to fish for the evening. I was working on a malaria story for MSH an NGO in Africa, and some fisherman working shots would be a great addition to my project. I grab my gear and run off to the beach with the cameraman from Kenya broadcasting TV who was working on a similar story for KBTV. We find a capo to negotiate with on taking us out on a boat. Soon enough we are speeding along the water on a very leaky boat that needed constant bailing, and with a worrisomely sputtering engine. We pull up to some fisherman to interview and photograph. I ask them if any of them have malaria and all at once they tell me how all of them have malaria at one time or another. Dusk is when they work and its prime time for mosquitos. Getting malaria seems to be an occupational hazard for them. I try to ignore the swarms of mosquitos everywhere that are making a meal of me also. Great just what I need Kisumu malaria.....Its is starting to get dark and they need to work so we say our goodbyes, they sail off into the sunset to fish, I went back to my cold beer, with more than a few mosquito bites and somehow stayed malaria free. I guess that Malarone works, this time at least.....







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. 

"Need a Lift?" she said, documenting women's health in Kenya

W_VAZQUEZ_KENYA_GIRL_BIKE "Need a lift?" she quietly said, as we passed by her on a path among the corn rows. We were headed to visit Pheobe, an obstetric fistula survivor, and her family at a village in Mumias, Kenya. I said no, thinking how a person as small as she is ride that giant bicycle with someone on the back. One of my traveling campanions had no issues with that. He hopped on the bike and rode off with her pedaling away. We continued on and after 15 minutes I arrived to find him sitting in the shade and relaxed, while I stood there sweating and over heated. Next time don't think so much I told myself.


A moment of reflection, documenting women's health issues in Africa.

A moment of reflection before her surgery is set to start, in a room that used to be a kitchen now an operating room where doctors help women heal. Not just from physical problems, but from some emotional ones also, to live a better, and fuller life. Documenting a day in the life of the Gynocare clinic dedicated to women's health in Eldoret, Kenya. W_VAZQUEZ_KENYA_PATIENT_GIRL

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.



Photographing for Direct Relief, maternal and child health clinics in Sierra Leone, Africa

I was commisioned by Direct Relief to document their efforts in reducing maternal death for both the mother and child. Direct Relief provides midwife kits to graduates from the School of Midwifery in Makeni, Bombali District, Sierra Leone. The midwife kits provide the tools needed to safely deliver a baby. Tools that are almost impossible to find in Sierra Leone. I was commisioned to document in photography, and video different clinics in rural parts of the country as well as the graduation of the most recent class. Sierra Leone emerged from a brutally violent civil war 10 years earlier, and their infrastructure was decimated. It was one of the more challenging trips I have done with all sorts of issues ranging from lack of electricity, the extreme heat, eating well, bad roads, spotty mobile service, limited internet access, and very basic lodging at times. This is one of the countries where the term "conflict diamonds" originated from. On the up side though the people were amazingly friendly, and welcoming everywhere I went from small villages to the capital city.

These photos are more of my expericnes, and a feeling of the place. As a policy I don't publish any photos that my client can use until they have published first. So I will publish more at a later time. Many thanks to Lindsey Pollaczek the project director from Direct Relief who organized the trip and traveled with me. She organized a great trip and is a super traveler. It was a positive and deeply felt experience.


While we were having lunch under a tree, a boy carrying water and mangos passed by.


At the graduation the local photographers were pretty aggressive on getting their shots. So was I....


Crossing a bridge and just washed laundry drying the in the sun.


A typical village with land being cleared for planting.


A shot of me with way too much gear photo by Lindsey.


We did lots of driving to get to some of the more remote clinics, over 20 hours in total for the week.


A house by the road. Some of the houses are from the colonial period of Sierra Leone.


Everywhere I went I would have an entourage......many curious and cute kids


Typical road in the more rural parts.


More ground being cleared for planting. Slash and burn, not a good thing.


A typical girl selling bananas, and eating a mango.


Sometimes we had to get off the road to get to where we needed to go in Kono, Sierra Leone.


A general store in rural areas.


Everywhere we went we got smiles and waves.


Graduation ceremony complete with marching bands and procession in Makeni, Sierra Leone


Some of the midwife graduates posing for a photo on the football pitch. The graduates played a soccer game....It was great fun to watch


I photographed an expectant mother at her home and she invited us to lunch. Rice with cassava leaves, palm oil, pepper, and a warm 7up. In the photo Dr. Heidi from the Medical Research Center on the left, and Lindsey from Direct Relief on the right. Not everyone in the shot was invited to the lunch...this was our entourage who stayed to watch.


Photographing the expectant mother while being observed.


These girls were way too cute and loved having their photos taken.


It was hot, very hot!


Sometime we drove at night. We tried to avoid that.


In Freetown the weekends are a time where football is played on the beach there must be about 20 matches going on. Keeping ft is a big thing with people jogging everywhere.


Night time in Freetown....The smell and smoke of cooking fires all over the city, make the city very smokey, and its dark in places due to no power. This is the Times Square there is a big jumbo screen playing videos.


Typical roadside businness'


Typical road


Motorbikes are everywhere.


The marching band, and Abdul the trumpet player.


There was also an all girl marching band.


Each midwife team had someone to drive away the bad spirits. She was the best.


More motor bikes.


A goat tied up outside out guest house in Kono


The common area of the guest house, not bad


The bathroom in Kono. Pretty basic


My room in Kono with the requicsite mosqito net but the fan was not working. It was a long and sweaty night.