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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.

A Little Adventure to do Some Good

"Wait you are going to be driving that thing???" My wife's reaction to my plan. Most everyone particularly Indians I spoke to on my plans would have similar reactions.

More than a year ago Greg a friend and fellow photographer came up with an idea. Lets drive the length of India in an auto rickshaw, and we can fund raise for charities that we support. (An auto rickshaw is a three wheeled under powered vehicle used in India and other countries as an inexpensive way to get around cities. Totally not meant to do what we were going to be doing to it.) So after more than a year in the planning we departed Shillong along with 70 other rickshaw teams with similar insane ideas on a 2,400 mile journey to Kochi in a vehicle that went no faster than 30 miles and hour, has no windows, and broke down on a regular basis. Along the way we faced terrible roads, monsoon, flat tires, beyond insane traffic, sweated profusely, poor food, burned out pistons, lack of sleep, the hunt for spare parts, mosquitoes, suicidal bus drivers, roadside chai, and an amazing journey through India's magnificent landscapes. The best part, meeting people all along the way. Indians who would drop whatever they were doing to say hello, ask questions, shake our hand, take selfies with us, help load our rickshaw on a truck, bring us chai, help us find a mechanic, and treat us like celebrities. All of this with a huge smile on their faces with genuine amazement and happiness to see us.

Our fundraiser is still open until 9/1/2016. Every little bit goes a long way in helping orphans in India and Nepal. The main reason I did this was to fund raise for orphans. As cool as the trip was it was about doing what I can to help on making these kids lives a little better.

Please help me help them.

https://www.crowdrise.com/the-rickshaw-run---india---august-2016/fundraiser/williamvazquez

Here are some photos of our Adventure.

A big thank you to Ian and Sam. I met them in Guwhati airport getting a taxi to Shillong. We ended up traveling together during the whole adventure. They stuck by us when our Rickshaw was sick, towed us a few times, snapped photos of us, and Ian just loved to get on the ground to take apart our engine when it needed fixing. They made the trip even more awesome. Great people.

AE71-578

Rickshaw Run: Shillong, India to Kochi, India

I am always looking for ways to combine what I do as a photographer to help others. Working for NGO's is one way I help, by bringing awareness through my photography which in turn helps the NGO's raise funds. Every few years I find a challenge to do and fundraise directly. In 2013 it was a trek to Everest Basecamp. I raised almost $7,000. This time around I am driving an Auto Rickshaw 2,100 miles from Shillong, India to Kochi, India with a friend and fellow photographer Greg Kinch. Its a bit crazy but it should be super interesting, fun, a serious challenge, and the best part I get to generate funds for a few NGOs like Families for Children, Kids of Kathmandu, and Cool Earth. My goal is to raise $5,000. Which will be split evenly by the three charities. These funds will go towards direct support of the children. Please support this endeavor!

Image backstory, India "The girl in purple"

Starting a little series of how I created certain photo with some back story.

I was in India on assignment working for Abbott creating imagery that illustrated their social responsibility efforts in India. I was photographing, clinics, people, milk collection, farmers, farming, and landscapes. I had free reign to photograph whatever I wanted, but the images had to tell the stories that the client wanted to highlight. There was no specific shot list just concepts.

  • Milk collection in rural areas
  • A local NGO's efforts on locating and helping women with gestational diabetes
  • Women's healthcare in rural India
  • A local NGO that provided access to clean water
  • Medicine distribution in rural India

Its not a very long list but its very daunting when you consider the process that the images have to go through before they are selected. The photographs have to feel serendipitous, show the best of India and its people, show that you are in India, simple uncluttered backgrounds, and be able to use the images in different ways. For example social media, in print, horizontal, vertical, on a cover, leave space for copy, and the list goes on. So its a lot to think about when you are deciding on an image to take, framing shots, and clicking that shutter. Plus there is no client going through this process with you and sharing in the struggles to create the images. Its my problem, and my problem alone.

In these series of photos. I was hanging around a clinic hoping to create some images of women at the clinic. The day I am there was a super slow day. The story of my life. I am either too early or too late. There were only two patients and the photos were not ideal. So I waited, and I waited hoping some other women would show up. Also it was getting later in the morning and once the light gets too high its really harsh. Not great light for images of people. Then these three girls appeared through the gate, one of them was coming to the clinic to meet with her mother.

They stopped in front of the wall to wait. I approached them and started a conversation through my interpreter. I asked if I can photograph them. They said yes, but they were very shy and would not look at the camera. I decided that I would need to separate them, and I figured my best chance was with the girl in purple. I said that I wanted to photograph them separately, but I started with the girl in purple. Just in case they decided to quit on me.

At first she wanted to be photographed with her friends and was calling them over, but I reassured her that it will be quick and I will photograph her friends after her.

This is where we started giving me a not so friendly face plus the light was a little hard. I wanted her to turn into the light a bit so her eyes would light up. Also her friend's shadow was in the shot so I had to move her away a bit.

After I got her friend to move, I was able to focus on my subject. She was shy in the sense that she wasn't able to look at the camera and smile at the same time. So I spoke to her friend and asked a question about the girl in purple. I think I asked if she was always this shy. She replied and this caused my subject to turn towards her and smile. She sort of smiled, she was trying her best not to smile. I shot about 30 frames of everyone including the final shot, and the whole encounter was probably 5 minutes.

Waiting for that "perfect moment" would make these projects go on for weeks and no guaranty of success. So I have to step in and control what I can by being selective, have a clear vision, and influencing what is going on in the image so I capture the best out of people in the time I have.

I think this image turned out great. She made me work for it a bit. The light was beautiful, as well as all the colors. Yes, it doesn't obviously feel like it was shot in India, but with the elements taken together it still gives that sense.

Gear

Canon 5D MarkIII, Canon 24-105 f4L lens

 

 

 

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.

On assignment: Cover your eyes and hope for the best

Vigli, being extremely shy; Punjab, India "Smile!" but look at me.

When on assignment I am sent with specific requirements on what ideas the images are supposed to convey, as well as look and feel. "Oh, and make sure there is room for type! but not sure of exactly where it will go." So as random as it feels sometimes, I get mandates like "go photograph pregnant women in India with gestational diabetes." One of the most important aspects is authenticity. Keeping the images "real" is probably the biggest challenge. Its much easier when things are planned and working with models. You can control the look and the feel of the images that way. Although that can have its pitfalls when it comes to looking authentic. Working with real people it can be hit or miss, of course being a professional it is expected that there is more hit than miss. You can tell people stand there and look this way, and that way, but how do you convey an idea you want them to express in their faces and body language? This becomes particularly problematic with cultural and language barriers. Many times I show up at a persons home in a rural area of another country that is off the grid like an alien from another planet that just got off a spaceship. Although my visit is usually pre-arranged. Most people have no clue about, why am I there, what I am doing, why am doing it, why is it important,  and what is the point of it all. Not to mention I am probably the first foreigner that they have ever seen up close let alone interacted with, and a man no less which can be an issue in very conservative countries. Also I want to take lots of photos over here, over there, doing this, doing that....I get 20 minutes tops before people start getting tired of the whole thing. Plus they have work to do!

So whats a photographer to do? Sit down and have tea, share a moment, get to know each other a bit, and do more than hope for the best.