|Who he is and why he does what he does...|
Photographing Latino Life for Forty Years
For over 40 years, José Galvez has used black and white film to create a powerful and unparalleled historical record of the Latino experience in America. His compelling work, done with respect, pride and no pretense, captures the beauty of daily life. For José, photographing the lives of Latinos is not a one-time project or “current passion” but a lifelong commitment. As an artist, he photographs nothing else. His personal history, love of family, and cultural knowledge enable him to pursue his work with a reverent understanding of the stories behind the images.
When Galvez was 10, he carried his shoeshine box into the building of the Arizona Daily Star. After that night, he was a permanent fixture in the newsroom. He bought a camera at a pawn shop in high school and inspired by his mentors at the paper, went on to major in journalism at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation he became a staff photographer at the Star.
No matter what his assignments were, José always focused his lens on the barrios of Tucson - his home - and the people who lived, worked, and loved there. He had his first professional exhibition when he was just 22 years old. At about the same time, José's participation in the Chicano Movement led him to see his work as more than a passion: he had a responsibility to capture the history of his people.
The first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to Mexican-American journalists
Galvez moved on to the Los Angeles Times, becoming the first Mexican-American photographer on staff. In 1984, he was on a team of reporters and photographers that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latino life in southern California: the first Chicanos to win the Prize. He left the Times in 1992 after winning many other awards for his photographs.
The work goes on: books, exhibits, grants and studies
Galvez has never stopped photographing Latino life in the U.S., reaching into new areas and new pursuits. He served as senior photo editor for Americanos, a multi-media exhibition led by Edward James Olmos. In 2000, he published his first solo book, Vatos, a collaboration with esteemed poet Luis Alberto Urrea. Then, in Beloved Land, he and oral historian Patricia Martin explored the lives of Mexican pioneer ranchers in the American Southwest. See our book page for more info.
In the last 40 years, Galvez's photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries here and abroad, including the Smithsonian. But more often, you’ll find him toting portable exhibits to schools, libraries, fiestas, lowrider shows, and rodeos.
In 2004, José and his family moved to North Carolina to photograph Hispanic immigration in the South. In 2005, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) through the support of the Ford Foundation and JP Morgan Chase awarded him and his wife, Anne, partial funding to create the photography/oral history project “Land of Opportunity: Latino Entrepreneurs of North Carolina.” Learn more here on the exhibits page.
Today, José tours the country with his work, inspiring audiences with his life stories with "Shine", a presentation that evokes his beginnings as a shoeshine boy. Adelante!
DOWNLOAD FILES (PDF)