On Assignment in Guatemala

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to spend two weeks in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, a rural, inland segment in the southern end of the country shooting for Photographers Without Borders. After my assignment, I also spent a few days in Antiqua, a small city surrounded by volcanoes and renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, many of them restored following a 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s 200-year reign as Guatemala’s colonial capital.
During my time, I stayed with a host Donal and his amazing family and worked on a project at a non-profit called Long Way Home. Long Way Home brings sustainable materials and designs to rural areas for school construction, where residents can then access education and employment. Working with them gave me the chance to take some memorable photographs and partake in even more important experiences.

My seven Favorite Photos From the Trip

While I took many photographs in Guatemala, my favorite photos include the following:

1. The Running Girl

This photo features a large mural map of the Americas with a girl running by at a decisive moment with both feet in the air. I love this image because it reminds me that the people of Guatemala are our neighbors, and we should think of them as family.

2. Smiling Schoolchildren

The smiling school children warm your heart every time you look at them. Good education is a rare opportunity for many kids in Guatemala, and they’re grateful to be a part of it. Their smiles say it all.

3. The Little Boy in the Wheelchair

There’s a sense of camaraderie among the Guatemalan people, and this image of two schoolboys shows it. I love the boy’s smile as he pushes his friend, just as much as I love his friend’s trust in the fact that the pushing boy is making him do a wheelie.

4. The Generational Family Photo

For many, life in Guatemala is a hard, gritty experience. This photo of several generations of family demonstrates the difference not only between the traditional, agricultural elders and the more modern children, but also the differences in the opportunity presented to them, and the different paths their lives are likely to take.

5. The Young Couple

This photo was taken right after a Guatemalan wedding, and I love the look of hope and tenderness on the couple’s faces. When we help to uplift communities like these, everyone benefits.

6. The Boy and the Bottles

I love the wonder and excitement in this young boy’s eyes. I appreciate the openness of this boy (Bryan’s) face, reflected by the vibrant color and spiral of the bottles, which is a unique construction idea created by Long Way Home.

7. The Old Man and the Hat

There’s something magical about this silhouetted photo, and I love the way it echoes Guatemala itself. The light is perfect across the man’s shoulder, face, and hat brim, and his expression is one of composure.
I am extremely thankful to have been a part of this project, and I hope the images here help you fall in love with this beautiful place, too.
Below are a few more of my favorite images:

Below is the beginning from another post I wrote about my trip:

Being selected for my first project with Photographers Without Borders and traveling to Guatemala to document the grassroots organization Long Way Home, was an incredible experience. After working as a professional photographer for the past 20 years shooting mostly weddings and portraits, this was finally an opportunity to quench my thirst for travel and photojournalism, which is why I originally got into photography in the first place. As a student at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale I was selected for an internship with The Miami Herald, which was an invaluable experience and helped mold my talents as a storyteller. After graduating from school and freelancing for a few years I relocated to New York City and started working as a wedding photographer, way before that was a “cool” thing like it is today. After many happy years capturing the most important day in a person’s life, I became complacent and unmotivated in what and how I was shooting. I made a decision last year that I would find a nonprofit organization to partner with which would allow me to travel and document cultures in other parts of the world. After a brief search online: enter Photographers Without Borders. Once I read their mission statement and a viewed a few past projects from other photographers, I knew it was a perfect match and exactly the kind of thing I was looking for!