Latin American Fotografia: Roberto Guerra

By David Schonauer   Wednesday October 14, 2015

Photographer Roberto Guerra  found his most compelling project two
and a half years ago.

And it was very close to home.

Originally from San Antonio, TX, Guerra is currently based in Quito, Ecuador, where he lives with his wife, journalist Ruxandra Guidi, and their daughter Camilla. Guerra studied anthropology at the University of Notre Dame but developed an interest in photography while he was in school.

“I always loved traveling, learning about other cultures, and had done work in human rights, social and environmental issues, and I also always had a creative side to my personality, and photography just seemed like a perfect way to bring all my interests together and allow me to explore and engage with the world,” he says. “Of course, I had no idea how to go about turning what quickly became my passion into a career. In fact, I’m still figuring that out!”

It was after school, while living in Austin, TX, that his path became clear. “I had the great fortune to work for about three years as first assistant to one of the most talented and creative photographers of our time, Dan Winters,” Guerra says. “Dan was an incredible mentor who taught me not only how to see more deeply and to develop my voice as a photographer, but also to use photography to explore those things that I care about in the world around me.”

That he has done. Guerra has gone on to cover news stories for publications like the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde,, Bloomberg Businessweek, NPR and the BBC. He also collaborates with his wife, producing stories for print, radio, and the web under the name Fonografia Collective.

“And then, of course, there is my project about my daughter Camila,” he says.

Since she was born two and a half years ago, Guerra has been photographing Camila’s daily life. “This is a purely personal project, and the one closest to my heart,” Guerra says. “Though on the one hand I’m simply setting out to document Camila's life as part of our family history, I also see this project as a way for me to to show my love for her through my work, as a way for me to remain attentive to the beautiful moments of childhood and everyday life, in general, and  to learn to see better as a photographer. I basically always have my camera nearby and just grab it when something grabs my attention.”

The work earned Guerra a spot among the winners of the Latin American Fotografia 3  competition.

Guerra works on the project whenever the family is together. One of the images selected by the LAF judges, for instance, was made in an apartment in Boulder, CO, during a year that Guerra spent as a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. It features Camila looking with fascination at a light box. “One evening we put it in our dark bedroom, and she just sat down right in front of it, and I saw what I thought was a beautiful image.” says Guerra.

Another image, shot six months after she was born, shows Camila in her crib surrounded by illuminated stars projected overhead. “This was when she was still so little, and her eyesight was developing, so she would get captivated by things like this. I just walked in, saw that there was a potentially beautiful moment there, and then grabbed my camera,” says Guerra.

The project is still going on — Guerra says he photographs Camila every day. “I’m hoping to capture something universal, something that not only other parents can appreciate, but all of us who were once children can too,” he says. “Sometimes I’m simply looking for visually beautiful moments, but I’m also trying to capture the inner life of the child, moments of exploration and discovery, innocence, happiness, sadness and wonder.


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