Cèsar Chàvez Celebration Photo Campaign

I had a great opportunity to be a part of the Cèsar Chàvez Celebration planning committee for an annual event that happens here on Miami Universities Oxford campus.  My task was to put together a mural, or some sort of visual representation of Latin@ students on Miami's campus.  Latin@ students are part of a marginalized population composing of less than 5% of students.

I decided to do a photo campaign to showcase some of those Latin@ students, faculty and staff.  Being a Latino has become one of my most salient identities and one I become more and more proud of every day, so this project was not only important to me, but to my community as well.  I was inspired by another projected created at North Park University.  I took a different twist with the lighting and used full body portraits, as well as a white background, instead of blue.

I did some reach out to gather students, faculty and staff and asked if they were interested in participating in the photo campaign.  I asked them two questions:

How has society viewed you?  How do you view yourself?

The stories were incredibly powerful, especially since these were real occurrences, with real people in their lives.  We came up with some ideas and I photographed the participants based on their stories.  The photographs speak for themselves.  The first photograph is how they felt they were perceived and the second was how they viewed themselves. 

Take a look below:

I was able to showcase these photos at an exhibit to help give Latin@s a voice and a place to be, in honor of Cèsar Chàvez Day.  Honestly, it is one of the biggest highlights of my photography experience.  Especially since some of those participants were able to share their stories with the people who came to unveiling of the exhibit.

The idea is to hang these photos in our Office of Diversity Affairs, so Latin@ students will always feel like they have some representation.  My hope is to continue to add to this exhibit in the future and hopefully capture a more full picture of the Latin@ Miami students here on campus.

Check out some of the photos from the exhibit below:

Huge shout out to Jeff Sabo, who helped me set up the lighting for these photographs and coached me on how to pose participants.  Also, huge thank you to my committee members for helping me showcase these and be supportive of them.  Huge thank you to the participants who were willing, and vulnerable enough, to share their stories and be photographed.  And of course, to the great Latin@ community, I have come to love so much more in the past two years.

As always, don't forget to check out some of my other work.  You can find me on social media pages below, don't forget to click the "Like" or "Follow" button! :)

~Ricardo