Meet Carlos A. Moreno, Photojournalist:
Moreno, who specializes in editorial, documentary, corporate, fashion, product and visual journalism. His photojournalism work has been published and syndicated in The New York Times, The Rockefeller Foundation, voiceofsandiego.org, the Associated Press, the Bay Area News Group, and others. He is based out of San Diego, and lives near the U.S.-Mexican border. He travels all over California, parts of the U.S, and Baja California, Mexico for assignments, as well as for commissioned work. He is always open to new clientele. When he is not pursuing his own personal work or new freelance clientele, his day job is being a staff photographer at Designer Studio INC and teaching private digital photography classes over the weekend.
For more info: carlosmorenophoto.com
There are many images in my short career that have had an impact on how I work as a photographer. None as vivid in real time as the story of the Abdullahs that I shot three years ago. I still recall the time I had met the Abdullah family outside their home, where I eventually would visit frequently, at a Santa Clara motel where traffic passed and bystanders where few and far between. They are covered in dirt and taking a load of metal parts in their hotel room with a shopping cart. No one noticed it around them, the amount of items they had collected. So I decided to see for myself. In the beginning I was seen with suspicion by them and was allowed not much to photograph. So I decided for two months not to shoot a thing and get to know them first. As time gave way to trust in me, as I to them, the realness of their lives began to show. I was given an entry and a way to begin to explore my own dealings in long form photo documentary story telling. It would take three years to get to this point. As I documented their life, I had no idea how much they would impact mine by listening to their story and seeing first hand the tough, happy and quiet moments of their daily comings and goings. Only after, by shielding myself with my camera, did I see how close I had become to their story. How through them, I felt their vulnerabilities and noticed the intimacy of my work increasing. A goal I had wanted to achieve for the longest time as a photographer. It was and has been my objective as a photojournalist to capture intimate moments that said something about people. Moments that perhaps we overlook. Especially now with everyone always keeping their eyes glued to their mobile screens everywhere they go. From the Abdullahs story, Picking up the Pieces, five images flash before me as I remember their story vividly. All photos © Carlos A. Moreno
1. Denise, who was going through the dumpster picking up metal and computer parts. As I was shooting, all I could see was the Hawaii Warriors hoody she had on. To anyone it seemed like a regular sweater, to me the simple “warriors” name on the back said it all. Denise is a warrior in battle to survive. I truly believe that moment captured it for me. The essence of whom she is as a person and mother.
2. Another was also a picture of Denise with her son Shadeed, playing with him. It was a lighter moment and a gentle side you didn’t see of Denise frequently. Her job toughens’ her, that you rarely see it when she is out pulling out copper wiring and metals of recycled materials.
3. The picture of Denise washing the family dishes at their bathroom sink; because their room is so small, as she fights tears, it was a hard picture to take. It was an unguarded moment from her, a symbolic gift to me as a photographer. It encompassed the hardship Denise faces as a provider and mother. Never having enough time to care for her own needs.
4. The image of Mahir staring somewhat off into space as he is dissembling some wiring somehow spoke to me as I shot the image. It tells of a man lost, possibly looking for answers and dumbfounded at the situation. The irony of once being a computer engineer and now taking computers apart to recycle them. Just barely making ends meet.
5. Finally the image of Denise looking out a window, as soft light hits her face and dark shadows surrounded her, left an impression to me that the darkness was symbolic of the situation. Her calm expression in the light hitting her face, spoke of hope to me. That they would make it somehow, regardless of the odds. That they wouldn’t be homeless, that maybe they’d escape their recurring circumstances. I hope they do. This is why I felt a strong need to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund an exhibition for the work and have the capacity to fundraise to allow a chance for their story to be told. I hope once we have funding for the exhibition, I might be able to sell the exhibition prints and give most of the proceeds to the family and to a charitable organization that focuses on poverty in the Silicon Valley Area.
Recently, I have found out that the family In the story were evicted from the motel they were living at and I am unable to locate them at this point (they have no cell phone or digital footprint from what I can tell to contact them, I went to the motel myself and found no one but the manager who told me that she had evicted them), which complicates our funding process and time of exhibition. We need their permission to exhibit the photographs since they are going to be sold at the gallery for sale and for their benefit. So my team, the gallery and I decided it was in everyones best interest to postpone it until we can locate them. I feel very strongly not just about the story but for the well being of this family, so I have decided to ask for help in locating them. I have already spoken to some local charities and homeless organizations that will be posting info about them in local food banks and shelters. My assistants, and I, will be going to their old stomping grounds and figuring out if we can get any clue on their whereabouts. I ask any local investigators and/or reporters in the Silicon Valley / Bay Area who are willing to help me track them, to please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to these unforeseen events, some of the sponsors who wanted to support this project have opted out for now, to hold funds, which therefore have affected out ability to get funding to what we needed from our Kickstarter campaign. Since Kickstarter’s take all or none approach for funding is pretty clear, we will lose what we have collected to fund the exhibition, which therefore will unable us to fund for printing of the images, to sell them in order to get any proceeds to the family. I feel, again, that my priority now is to find the family and see that they are first and foremost safe. Find them, get their permission and once all this is established, get a new fundraiser going. This time our team plans on launching our own fundraising website dedicated to the project, so we can secure funds for exhibition without a middle man. I ask those who have donated, as well as sponsors, that once all of it is settled to please take the funds you have pledged to us on Kickstarter to the our new site. That way the money will get used for exhibit, whether the outcome of funding is reached on the fundraiser’s end time or our own terms.