I cover news and sports stories.
My earliest memory of photography comes from when I was seven years old and my mother used to take pictures with a Rolleiflex. It was her hobby – that, and dancing.
I learnt to take pictures by studying at a photography school and participating in many workshops. Later, I started to work for the Diario El Caleno in Cali, Colombia.
My first assignment was to take photographs after a person died from being run over by a public bus. When I got to the site of the accident, I saw a relative crying while kneeling next to the victim and I started taking pictures with my Nikon F2. I’d never seen a dead body and the human tragedy caused by the loss of a loved one. This was probably the moment I realised that I wanted to continue photographing human life, its suffering and its joys.
I take pictures for people who want to know what happens in my part of the world and who are curious about the lives of others.
After seeing so many human tragedies during the 30 years that I have spent working as a photographer, I’ve learnt to appreciate life with all its ups and downs.
I was kidnapped in Colombia after an assignment in 1999 and after being released I look at my family in a different way - there is a before and an after. I try to cherish every moment with them now; life is too short and too fragile to waste.
The American Airlines crash in Colombia in December 1995 was the story that left the biggest mark on me. Seeing all those dead people, some of them still strapped to their seats, others half-buried in the soil, dead children being pulled out from the debris, was a real shock. People had been travelling to meet their families for Christmas Eve and were probably happily anticipating spending time with their loved ones, swapping gifts and enjoying good moments. Everything came to an end when the plane crashed into that mountain.
The person I respect the most is my mother. As a single parent she faced many obstacles but she overcame them all and she is the person who taught me everything – to be respectful of life and your loved ones and to work hard.
Photography is part of my life and looking back at the photographs I’ve taken over the last three decades is a wonderful and sometimes painful way to take a look into my own history and the stories of others.