Rochester, New York – a small city on the shore of Lake Ontario – was my hometown of 25 years before I relocated to San Diego. In October last year, after recently quitting my job to pursue a full-time career in photography, I returned there for a short trip.
To challenge myself as a street photographer, I started a new project when I arrived called “100X100.” The idea behind it was to capture 100 portraits that document the diversity of the city.
After I told her about it, my mom thought it would be a good idea to visit the public market located in the heart of Rochester. She wanted me to shoot my uncle and aunt; who had been vendors at the market for over 20 years. Seeing as I hadn’t visited or seen them in almost a decade, I agreed.
I quickly found myself submerged in a highly multicultural environment. People from the suburbs, farms, and the city were all bustling around together, proving that our country isn’t as divided as we’re led to believe.
I eventually saw my uncle, who was selling Puerto Rico merchandise underneath his tent. Prior to that week, my family lost much of their property on the island because of Hurricane Maria. Fortunately, they were able to survive and rebuild. I witnessed many people embrace my uncle, and the proud look on his face made me realise that everything was going to be okay.
After visiting him, I learned the value of family. The trip made me realise that – regardless of your race, creed or colour – we’re all in this together. In many ways, my trip to Rochester was meant to heal my wounds: both creatively and spiritually.
Street photography is a gift, allowing others to see the world as your eyes do. Each perspective is different, but unique. Rochester is the backdrop of my success. The lessons learned during my visit helped me build the confidence to display my work around the world. Rochester isn’t the city that raised me, it’s the anchor to my journey.